In his latest ‘At Home With’ conversation on Apple Music, Zane Lowe is joined by Eminem who runs through a selection of the music featured on his playlist. He tells Apple Music about the golden age of Hip-Hop and artists that influenced him like Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and 3rd Bass. He also talks about his favorite rappers, Pete Davidson’s SNL parody of ‘Stan’, his passion for collecting cassette tapes, and more.
Video | Eminem tells Apple Music about the golden age of Hip-Hop, LL Cool J, Nas, his cassette collection, favourite rappers and more
Eminem tells Apple Music about collecting rap cassettes
Well, I just started again. It took me about three years to get what I got right now, because some tapes are just harder to find than others, depending upon how many… I never even thought this as a kid, but when you think about a release, especially back in the day, you don’t really know how many units they pressed up even. So, like a Sweet Tee, that tape, I still can’t find it. I still can’t find it new, because what I do is I take… I collect the unopened one, and then if they have another one that’s either open, or… if I get two unopened ones, I open the one and I keep the other ones fo …
Because when I was a kid, I didn’t have money to buy every tape I ever wanted. You know what I’m saying? So usually what we had to do was go to this place called Record Time, and I would take the tape that came out a couple of weeks ago, trade it in for the new tape, whatever else was out. Me and my friends would take turns buying the tape and be like, “It’s your turn to buy this tape and I get to dub it and then it’ll be my turn to buy the next tape.”But it also was like you would dub some sh-t it’d be like… the air would be like… And you’d hear the air more than the tape. You’d have to turn it all the way up, and then all you hear is the base from it and that sh-t. Yeah, that sh-t sucked. But I said to myself, “If I ever make it one day as a rapper, I’m going to get every tape that I always wanted.”And there’s something nostalgic about being able to hold the tape. You know what I’m saying?
Also, a record is not going to give you the the feel of having the tape, and it’s not going to give you the information. It’s not going to give you all that, you know what I’m saying? So for me, I always collected tapes. I know a lot of my friends collected vinyl and… back in the day, but me, I’ve been… I’m a tape person.
Eminem tells Apple Music about Run DMC
I was listening in the gym yesterday to Tougher Than Leather. The way that Run-DMC. Man, the way their voices meshed, I don’t… you will never hear that again. Wait, I’ll give you another one. Beastie Boys. Beastie Boys was like the white Run-DMC. Their voices, all of their voices mesh together so f-king well. But Run-DMC broke. The way they would interchange and just say one line, I’ve never heard a group … Yeah, man. I remember, I was… I’ll never forget where I was when I saw the “King of Rock” video. I was at my Aunt Edna’s house, and I would sleep in the living room sometimes with the TV on. I remember I was about to go to sleep and I don’t even know what channel I was watching, and that came on when they were walking up to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “Oh, sh-t that’s Run-DMC?” I had never seen the video. I knew who Run-D.M.C. was, but I had never seen an actual video from them. I was probably, I don’t know, 11 or 12 maybe, somewhere around there. But yeah, man. And it was just so… like, come on, man. Who the f-k was cooler than Run-DMC? Who was cooler? Nobody.
Eminem tells Apple Music about the evolution of Hip Hop
Hip-Hop, I feel like in its infancy stages, as much as it’s evolved and it’s went through all these transitions and sh-t, I feel like a lot of these kids won’t understand the experience of Hip-Hop in its infancy stages. And everyone… the younger kids are going to… everyone’s going to think their era is the best era, but this really was to me… the golden era of Hip Hop was the best era to me just because it was so new. You’d never heard it before. I know that I saw and heard a lot of people say that it wasn’t going to be anything. You know what I’m saying? Like it wasn’t going to last or whatever. Here we are what, 40, 50 years later? It’s crazy. And it’s the biggest music. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the biggest genre.
Eminem tells Apple Music about Rakim
Rakim was the first, I don’t know if he was the first to do multi-syllable rhymes, but one of the greatest things about Rakim to me was he would use words that you’ve heard this word rhyme before, but it’d almost be like, I’m just going to use an example, I know he didn’t say this, but if it was girl and world, and then all of a sudden Rakim, you’d expect them to rhyme that, and he’s rhyming plural and rural. You know what I’m saying? So it was like, okay, these words haven’t really been rhymed yet. If he was the first, “I take seven MCs, put them in a line, and add seven more brothers who think they can rhyme, but it’ll take seven more before I go from mine, and that’s 21 MCs ate up at the same time. Easy does it, do it easy, that’s what I’m doing. No fessing, no messing around.” Yo, the inside rhyme schemes, all that sh-t. Yeah, man, that’s the God MC right there. Yeah, all the multi-syllable, and Rakim just kept getting more complicated with the sh-t every time he came out.
Eminem tells Apple Music why there will never be a best rapper of all time
Yeah, man, when people compare, when they try to compare eras, Hip-Hop’s went through too many different transitions for anyone really to be the best rapper of all time, because Rap has went through transitions. It’s evolved. Now people are doing things with flows that I never could have seen happening. But at the same time, rappers from that era meant so much more to that era, just because there were so many innovators and there were so many rappers.
Eminem tells Apple Music about feeling no more influential than those who influenced him
I know I’ve been around for a minute, but I don’t feel like honestly, in my heart of hearts, I don’t feel like anything I did, anything I’ve done up to this point is more influential than they were to their era. You know what I’m saying? To me, I will never mean more than they meant to their era. And that, man, a lot of times people, when they ask me what my top favorite rappers are, I don’t even know how to answer that, because there’s so many rappers that have been so great and still are great. And by the way, I think Rakim probably is still great. I haven’t heard anything he’s working on lately, but I guarantee you he ain’t lost that sh-t, because that kind of sh-t don’t go away. It just doesn’t.
Eminem on some of his favourite rappers (Wayne, Cole, Kendrick, Tupac, Rakim, etc)
I rap to be the best rapper, but I’m not the only rapper who raps to be the best rapper. Wayne, Cole, Kendrick, Joyner Lucas. They rap to be the best rapper, and I feel like when you push yourself like that, that’s what I feel like inspires greatness. But the list, man, sometimes you almost have to go by era. Tupac, I feel like rappers like Rakim, G Rap, Kane, Treach, Phero Munch, Gwin, KRS-One would drive some new sh-t, it just outdid whatever was before that. And then along comes Rakim, and he out does that. And then along comes G Rap and he starts out doing everyone else. Redman, Redman was, to me, one of the most consistent artists. Still rapping to this day, is one of the most consistently dope rappers.
Eminem tells Apple Music what makes Nas great
I mean, there’s too many moments that he had for me to even be able to count. And one of the reasons that I picked Halftime though is because there’s some rhyme schemes on there that most rappers to this day probably can’t do. And that’s one of the things that has made Nas so great over his career. Like when he, “Because when I blast the herb, that’s my word, I’ll be slaying them fast, doing this, that, and the third. But chill, pass the Andre, and let’s slay. I bag b-tches up at John Jay and hit a matinee.” He was rhyming entire sentences. And I’m like, “What the f-k is this?” You know what I’m saying? Yo, Illmatic, I can’t even. Everybody knows that is a classic, essential album. I don’t know where you place that in Hip Hop, but it’s got to be at the top. It’s got to be up at the top. I’ve been inspired by so many rappers that that’s probably where I get… It taught me different flow patterns, different schemes you can do, and then when you start finding your own that you feel like haven’t been done yet, that’s when it becomes fun. Yeah, man, there’s too many great MCs from that era that it’s really hard to pick somebody, because it was like the newest person to drop an album out of the MCs, and I’m probably forgetting a couple of MCs, but they were the best until a new G Rap album came out.
Eminem tells Apple Music why Heavy D was underrated
The reason I picked Heavy D too, on a couple of these songs, is because sometimes I got to go back to and remember how great some rappers were, right? Heavy D. RIP to Heavy D, man. I have nothing but the utmost respect for that dude. And he was one of the most underrated rappers to me because he was like a chameleon because he could get on a song with Treach and keep up. You know what I’m saying? He had commercial hits and then he could go, like, ready for them, but they’re not ready for me. That man, like… Yeah, Heavy D was a chameleon. Yeah. Like I even… Heavy D had the kind of… Heavy D was like Biggie to me. He had the kind of commercial hits that no matter how much you heard him you never really got tired of him.
Eminem on SNL and Pete Davidson’s cover of ‘Stan’
I remember they sent me the lyrics to it and I was reading them on paper and I was like, “Oh, I don’t know if this is going to be that good.” And then the weight, when he said it, I was like, “Holy sh-t.” He said it so good that he sold every single thing. You can’t… First of all, everybody’s raps look terrible on paper, right? Because you don’t necessarily know unless you’re a rapper yourself. You don’t necessarily know where… Even if you are, you don’t know where they’re going to hit the beat at, what pocket they’re going to choose. Yeah. And he was in a ill pocket. He was like, he was kind of going and he’d go a little faster and then he kind of slowed down so you could catch what he just said the first time you hear it. Yeah. His delivery was for sure really on point because it was not what I expected when I saw it. I was like, “Man, this is actually really good.” The whole thing was great.
Eminem tells Apple Music why Large Professor is underrated
Yeah, man, Large Professor, that’s one of the most underrated MCs of all time to me. Because man, that first album, that’s a classic. To me, that’s right there with the Brand New, with the Illmatic – Yeah, man. That’s one of those albums that… A classic album to me is a album that you can play straight through. I think that’s probably would be my definition, one of the things that would factor in. But yeah, man, that was a play straight through album. Every song was dope. You got the beginning of Nas right there. Live at the Barbecue. He said, “When I was 12, I went to hell for snuffing Jesus.”
Eminem tells Apple Music why Ice Cube was cutting edge
Ice Cube. I don’t talk about Ice Cube enough, man. Like I said, it’s just hard to remember because there’s so many great records. Bro. Cutting edge, cutting edge. When I heard “Gangsta Gangsta”, I was like, “What the” That was like f-k… Like I said, I didn’t even know you could… I don’t know you were allowed to swear that much. He also had one of the best deliveries.
Eminem tells Apple Music about MC Serch and 3rd Bass
I saw an interview with MC Serch recently where he was saying… somebody asked him, I can’t even remember where I saw it. Somebody asked him about if he thinks he influenced me and he was like, “Nah, f-k no, whatever, that’s bullsh-t”, and that is bull because he did influence me, very heavy. But, 3rd Bass, I was very inspired by 3rd Bass. It wasn’t even just the fact that it was two white MCs, the music and the way they rapped for that time period was f-king cutting edge. When Serch was like, “The light goes, my mic blows up. The silence is now sound.” He was doing those in-between, “You ain’t my nucka. Sucker, I’m snuffing”, that kind of… I paid attention to it. Those two albums taught me a lot, man. They taught me a lot and then I hated the fact that they broke up. Yeah, man. MC Serch, like I said, I saw the interview and I was like, “Oh, come on, Serch. You got to know you inspired me.” You know what I’m saying? Because, Serch and Pete Nice, man. I wished that they would’ve stayed together, I wish they would’ve made more albums. I wish there wasn’t the tension between the two of them and it wasn’t like that, but I’m not the one to… ain’t my call, so…