First things first. Em, this is the only time you’ve ever agreed to appear in XXL. Can you explain why?
Eminem: Well, there was a little beef when I first came out. Pretty much the old staff jumped the gun on all this. Early on our publicist was trying to get XXL to do a cover story and XXL said, “No. We aren’t doing articles on no White rappers, period.” So then after I came out, they did do a story on me, but it wasn’t an interview. The story said that I was a culture-stealers and a Ku Klux Klan member…basically just popping shit. So I went on a XXL-bashing campaign, which might not have been the smartest thing at that time, ‘cause in the position that I was in, I really needed XXL. But I’m the type that if it’s “Fuck me” then it’s “Fuck you!” I am almost never the one to say “Fuck you” first.
So I would go on stage and tear up copies of the magazine and have the whole crowd chanting, “Fuck Double-X-L!” Otherwise, I wouldn’t even come on stage. But years have passed, and I’m told that XXL has a whole new staff now. I’ve grown up, and I know that there are some grudges that you hold close to your heart and others that you can let go of. Especially when there is another magazine that’s on its way out. I felt like this was the next magazine to come up, so it was time to let go.
Dre, you haven’t appeared in these pages either. Why is that?
Dr. Dre: It’s simple. I’m riding with my people. If Em’s like, “Fuck’em,” then I’m like, “Fuck’em,” too. Period.
Eminem: [Laughing] Hell jeeeaaaaah! Hell jeeah homie.
The real reason that the two of you are here right now is 50 Cent. Explain how we got the three of you sitting here together.
Eminem: Right before The Eminem Show dropped, I said to a few different people that I was in a little bit of a slump as far as hip-hop was concerned. I was just bored. It was like the same artists were doing it consistently and nobody new was coming up. Then, right at the same time, my manager started pushing me like, “You gotta hear 50’s new shit, you gotta hear 50’s new shit.” But when I’m in album mode, I can’t really listen to other people’s shit. So once I finished the record, I really sat down and listened to Guess Who’s Back? That and the first G-Unit CD. I started bumping them and they became my shit. But first I went to Dre with it. Dre heard it, thought it was crazy, so we were just like, “Let’s fly him out.”
Dre: I mean, I’d heard him a long time ago with “Your Life’s On The Line.” So Em called me up to see if I was interested and said, “Let’s at least sit down and talk about it.” We all met at this spot in Hollywood and talked for about 15 minutes and I said I was with it and that was it.
Eminem: Remember, we was in the studio and I was playing all of his new tracks? I was just like, “Imagine if we do this together…”
Dre: Which is exactly what it’s becoming.
50, tell us about having Dr. Dre and Eminem call you out of the blue with a plane ticket to Los Angeles.
50 Cent: I mean, at first I wasn’t that excited. Because, you know, I’d been through so many meetings already. But like, when I met him, Em was excited. He had already told [Power 106 radio host] Big Boy that he was feelin’ me.
Eminem: Yeah, I did that interview earlier that day.
50 Cent: So we sat down and spoke and he told me about the vision he had for his company and he was really trying to sell me on it. But during the whole conversation I’m like, “No, no, no. C’mon, man. Let me sell me.”
Eminem: I was already sold, through. His life story sold me. To have a story behind the music is so important. He’s just got the total package. He can write songs—not just freestyle. He picks good beats and writes good hooks. But there is something about 50 as an MC. And you can ask Dre, I’m a rapper’s rapper…
50 Cent: Being around these two is making me a better artist. That’s really what I got out of this deal. More than even the finances, even though they are a lot. I mean, when Dre sends you a track, it’s bumping before you even hear the muthafucka! I’m so excited to hear what it sounds like before it arrives, I might fuck around and have an anxiety attack.
You talk about the importance of a life story, but 50′s is rather sordid—from his mother’s street roots to his being stabbed and shot. Did that stuff give either of you any apprehension about signing him?
Dre: Of course. I mean, we talked about it when we first sat down. No one wants to buy a problem—neither of us need a headache. But I got the impression in just a couple of minutes that 50 had his head on straight and we about handling his business.
Eminem: And I mean, I was a headache for Dre too.
Dre: Yeah, that’s true.
Eminem: We did buy a problem, but not a problem for us.
Dre: A problem for a lot of other muthafuckas!
50 Cent: And anyone that has a problem with that, I’m inviting you. If you feel you have a problem with any of the people that I’m riding with, I’m inviting you.
But more than just bad publicity. This gentleman has people that want him dead badly enough to put nine bullets in him. That doesn’t concern you?
Eminem: I mean, there’s a probably people that want to shoot me. When you’re at the top of the ladder, I mean, what the fuck?
50 Cent: That’s real, more people hate Eminem than hate 50 Cent.
Eminem: So we just traveling in large packs.
Speaking of wanting Eminem dead, that’s what Benzino has been calling for recently. Tell me about your relationship with him and The Source.
Eminem: Growing up, that was the magazine. That was the Bible of hip-hop. Every month me and my people would go to the store to get it. The first thing that we’d always look for was the [Hip-Hop] Quotable and then the Unsigned Hype, and then we’d look at the mics. If somebody got four mics, or four-and-a-half mics, then we bought your shit. Me and Proof and the people that we down with, we didn’t have much money, so if a record got a three-and-a-half or a three, we’d take turns buying tapes to check it out and see if it had anything on it. But if The Source gave it a four, or a four-and-a-half or a five? We went out and bought it, no question. Their word was golden. But now the game is fucked up. It’s tainted. So now, as far as me personally and The Source, I’m done.
What led to that?
Eminem: Well, a lot of things. I’ve been short changed in that magazine since I came out. And Dre has been shortchanged too. Dave Mays actually once flew to LA to kiss his ass and try and make it up to him. He was like, “We’ll give the Chronics a Five.” I don’t know how many years it took for that article to come out. [In their March ’02 issue, The Source ran corrections of their original reviews of both Dr. Dre’s albums—upping the mic ratings from four-and-a-half to five.]
Dr. Dre: Yeah, it’d been about ten years since the first one dropped.
Eminem: But even when we felt shortchanged, we were big enough not to make an issue out of it. We weren’t sitting back like mad rappers like, “Fuck this. It’s not fair.” Who are we to say what we deserve? We would take it. Whatever. We let the fans decide. People were still buying the records, so we just figured that I was doing something right.
Dre: That’s all I give a fuck about. Honestly, I had stopped reading The Source a long time ago.
Eminem: At this point, the mics don’t mean anything anymore. They’re just a reflection of whether the rapper that owns half of that magazine likes a certain artist, or wants them to guest on his record…“I’m the five-mic giver!” He actually said that on the record! I can’t buy that magazine no more. You can look at that magazine, I don’t care what issue and no matter what, there are gonna be at least four pages of Benizo in there. He gives himself Quotables!! I mean, c’mon, dude put himself on the cover! They quoted him in the greatest quotes from hip-hop lyrics of all time! They gave me on for “Without Me,” and they gave him one right beneath mine. He gave himself “greatest all-time quote” for the line, “Fuck a magazine, I am The Source.” OK, he is. But times change, and now it’s “Double-X-L! Double-X-L!” [Em mimics the tone from his song “Marshall Mathers.”]
50 Cent: Funniest thing to me was that when Benzino made his record, I hit Em like, “Yo, what happened?” Did you bump into dude? What?” And he was just like, “No, I’ve never even met this guy.”
Eminem: Like I said, as far as The Source goes, I’m done. And my label is done. You won’t see us in those pages.
Dr. Dre: Never. Eminem: The only way you’re gonna see us in that magazine is they draw a cartoon of us on their back page. And you know they’ll be putting us in little dresses or some dumb shit. That’ll be their only way to get back at us. That is, until they go bankrupt. And that’s some real shit. Next year, 50 is gonna be the biggest rapper and they aren’t gonna be able to get even the smallest piece of him. And all those kids that want to see 50 Cent are gonna have to go somewhere else. And what kids gonna want to buy a rap magazine that doesn’t have the biggest rapper out?
50 Cent: They’ll be using fanzine pictures of me!