Eminem, “Hard To Kill” (Originally Published June 2009)

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Where have you been? It seems like a whole generation of hip-hop has gone in the time that you’ve been away.
Yeah, well, there were a few things that played into that factor. First of all, I went for seven years straight and never took a break. It got to the point where I felt like I needed to pull back. After the last tour, the Anger Management 3, as everybody knows, I went into rehab for a drug problem that, honestly, didn’t get better when I went into rehab. I wasn’t ready to go into rehab. I felt that, at the time, everyone else was ready for me to go. And I wasn’t ready.

You weren’t ready mentally?
I wasn’t ready mentally. I wasn’t ready to give up the drugs. I didn’t really think I had a problem. Basically, I went in, and I came out. I relapsed, and I spent the next three years struggling with it. Also, at that time, I felt like I wanted to pull back, because my drug problem had got so bad. I felt like, Maybe if I take a break, maybe this will help.
I started to get into the producer role more… I can still be out there with my music, like with the Re-Up album, but I don’t have to be in the spotlight the whole time.

What types of drugs were you were taking?
Ever since the beginning of my career I dabbled in Vicodin, Valium, Ambien. It was kind of like a recreational thing that, for some reason, when it first started out, like ecstasy and shit like that, I was able to do it and step away from it. Drinking, I was able to do it and step away from it. But slowly it started progressing. For a while, there were, like, four to six months where I struggled with ecstasy. I had found myself taking it before every show.

So you would go out, rock these shows…
Yeah, like, on the Warped Tour, me and Proof would split a hit, like half a hit or whatever, and on top of it, I was drinking or whatever. Then I would come home and be like, Aight, I’m not gonna do it around the kids. So those would be the times I’d clean myself out. I’d be home for a week, two weeks or whatever and be like, I’m done with this. Then I’d get back out on the road and then… It started becoming that I’d be doing it all the time if people had it. I wouldn’t carry the shit on me. I wouldn’t have it myself. If we were around that kind of party atmosphere and somebody had it, which my music at that time always attracted that crowd, like the raver kids and shit like that, we’d end up hanging out with some kids somehow, and people would be around us and be like, “Hey, I got some mushrooms, I got this, I got that.” Slowly, after a period of time, it became where we were buying it on the road. So we would kinda say, “Who’s got the E?” It became where I wasn’t doing it anymore because people had it, I was doing it and actually purchasing the shit, just because. Then it got to a point where I felt like I needed it to be onstage.

My biggest thing was sleeping. I would take NyQuil and shit like that. I’d be like, Okay, well, this worked last night. But I got to take extra tonight, ’cause it ain’t gonna work. Now I got to get a prescription for something. I got to see my doctor.

Because you couldn’t sleep?
It’s between the schedule and all the shit when it starts to get crazy. When you’re in album cycle and touring and shit like that, the schedule… You got to be somewhere at certain times. You only got this little window to sleep. And if you don’t sleep, you are kind of fucked for the next day. So it was all the mental things that I went through. I struggled with ecstasy, kinda struggled with drinking. But I was able to cut it off, which is what I never understood about pills. But that’s obviously what you learn in rehab. It’s what becomes your drug of choice. Certain addicts may not struggle with… I may not have a problem with liquor. But if I drink liquor and I get to where I get a hangover the next day, I’m screaming for a Vicodin. “Oh, I wish I had a Vicodin!” So, basically, I struggled off and on with prescription pills, like, the next three years. Then, everybody knows, I went through a divorce. I was trying to put my family back together. That ended up not working out. Then losing my best friend. It was kinda like going through those struggles. None of that shit was easy. My addiction got worse and worse and worse. I had to come to the realization, I mean, I’ve been clean for a year now, but I had to come to the realization that I want to do this. This ain’t something that anybody can just tell me, know what I mean? This isn’t something that everyone can want for me.

When did you know that it was time for you to go to rehab?
There were a bunch of moments where I felt like, I want to do it, I want to do it. Ah, maybe now is not the time. Maybe I’ll just do this for a little longer. I started realizing, like,
I took a break from the spotlight, and I felt like I wanted to be with my family and spend more time with my kids and stuff like that. But the whole time, I’m walking around the house high most of the time. So I’m missing out on the best parts of their lives. There were several moments. And it got to the point where the guilt that I started feeling inside for doing the shit… I wasn’t fooling anybody but myself. I had to come to that realization. At the time, I’m 35 years old, how long am I going to keep doing this? I felt like I needed to grow up, and if I didn’t grow up, it was like, now or never.

Without Proof here, is there someone else that can help you with the emotional weight you’ve been dealing with?
I’ve always had a real tight circle. All the guys from D12, everybody in the circle, management and other members of our crew, have just always been there from day one. Everyone felt his loss, from his kids, to his wife, to everyone. But, for some reason, in hindsight, the way I felt was almost like it happened to just me… Maybe at that time I was a little bit selfish with it. I think it kind of hit me so hard. It just blindsided me. I just went into such a dark place that, with everything, the drugs, my thoughts, everything. And the more drugs I consumed, and it was all depressants I was taking, the more depressed I became, the more self-loathing I became… By the way, I’m just now at the point where I’m better talking about it. It took me so long to get out of that place where I couldn’t even speak about it without crying or wanting to cry… Proof was the anchor. He was everything to D12. And not just the group—for me, personally, he was everything.

When I say I went into a dark place, it feels like I literally crawled into a hole. There were days I’d just sit around all day and take pills and try to numb myself. It was almost an excuse for me to take more pills, like, I just lost Proof, so it’s okay for me to take a couple of pills.

I started spiraling out of control with my thoughts, with the drugs, with everything. When I would go to the studio, I kept trying to write songs about him. I think I might have wrote and recorded at least five or six songs about him. None of them came out the way I wanted them to, and all of them made me depressed. All of them made me go deeper into that hole… Nothing I wrote was good enough for him. Everything was, like, self-loathing.

Did you ever take any personal responsibility for what happened to him?

Yeah, I went through that kind of thing as well. I felt like, Well, maybe if I would have been with him at the club that night… He knows I was trying to get him to chill out and stop going to the club so much.

How did you react to all the conflicting information that came out immediately following the incident?
I got a bunch of conflicting stories, a bunch of conflicting things, and none of them ever made sense to me. There were things that I’d heard that they were saying, that Proof shot the dude first. It’s so not in his character to do that. There were other stories that matched what I knew Proof would have did. I had to go through the process in my head of, like, regardless of what happened, it happened. It’s not gonna bring him back. I don’t know if I’ve accepted it is the right word, but I’m dealing with it. Life for me will never be the same.

  • Slim Joe

    one of the G.O.A.Ts