Eminem’s ‘The Slim Shady LP’ breakout album is marking its 20th anniversary. Here’s the inside story from those who were there.
Few introductions in music history have been more blunt.
“Hi! My name is!”
With that opening line, Slim Shady sent himself hurtling into notoriety, bringing Eminem and Marshall Mathers along for the ride.
“The Slim Shady LP,” released 20 years ago this week, was a raw, colorful, parental-advisory-plastered shock wave of a major-label debut.
Speaking mostly through his alter ago, the character he dubbed Slim Shady, Detroit rapper Eminem dished up knife-edged wit, pop-culture savvy and deep dives into his own turbulent psyche and domestic life. In its blurring of fantasy and reality, the album provoked accusations of homophobia and glorification of drugs and violence. Produced by proven hip-hop heavyweight Dr. Dre and Detroit’s aspiring Bass Brothers, it was a pop crossover smash and a glimpse of rap brilliance.
Watch rare and never-released footage of Eminem behind the scenes of ‘The Slim Shady LP’
Candid video from 1999 chronicles Eminem as “The Slim Shady LP” is released and becomes the Detroit rapper’s first massive hit.
Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press
While it sold 5.5 million copies in the U.S. and garnered solid reviews, “The Slim Shady LP” wasn’t the crowning achievement of Marshall Mathers’ career. In 1999, Eminem’s creative energy was just kicking into overdrive, and the real peaks were still to come. In a rare confluence of art and business, the artistic triumphs would also be his biggest commercial successes — “The Marshall Mathers LP,” the “8 Mile” movie, “The Eminem Show.”
But it was “The Slim Shady LP” that started it all, propelling him into pop culture, stamping his identity, and clinching the confidence that led to his best work. Still residing part-time in a trailer when the album was released, the introspective 26-year-old was suddenly navigating an ascent — or plunge — into fame, a topic he would tap for lyrical inspiration in the years ahead.
Eminem, a white kid from the majority-black Motor City, was about to become the most prominent, most discussed, most dissected music figure on the globe. He would finish the next decade as the era’s top-selling artist, and he was regularly classed among hip-hop’s all-time best.
“The Slim Shady LP” was cut in Los Angeles, but it was thoroughly Detroit. Eminem was soon the city’s most identifiable musical product alongside Motown and Aretha Franklin.
In 1997, east-side resident Eminem — financially strapped and raising a toddler daughter — was sustained by just a handful of believers, including a crew of rapper friends from the city’s small, ever-hustling, ever-struggling hip-hop circle.
There was also Paul Rosenberg, a trusted ally from his early days and now a rookie attorney in New York. Hometown producers Mark and Jeff Bass were firmly aboard, while then-manager Marc Kempf, who ran a Detroit rap magazine, was working to stir interest in the Midwest and beyond.
Eminem’s obscure indie release “Infinite” in 1995 came and went. That meager momentum had stalled. Now the 24-year-old was flipping the creative script: He hatched his new alter ego, as the mythology famously goes, while sitting on a toilet.
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EMINEM (Detroit Free Press interview, 1999): We tried to do some s— back in the day, but I was too young. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was rhyming. I knew I could put words together, but I just didn’t have the whole formula yet.
MARC KEMPF, former Eminem manager: He was starting to consider, “Should I just give this up and keep flipping burgers?” I pushed him not to, because I saw the talent.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): The lack of love (in Detroit) was bulls—. Nobody was trying to hear me when I was coming up. I was trying so hard. I was giving tapes out — like, “Here, take it.”
It’s like crabs in a bucket, and everybody’s trying to fight to get their way to the top and pulling the next one down. I had any excuse in the book thrown at me — from being white to I can’t rhyme or I’m biting someone else’s style.
KEMPF: He switched up a lot from the “Infinite” sound, which had been influenced by a lot of positive rappers — street but positive — like Nas and AZ. A very New York sound.
To a very small extent, he noticed the Insane Clown Posse and Esham thing (in Detroit) — how this negativity was selling out venues and record stores.
So Slim Shady, the alter ego, was created.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): (People were saying,) “You shouldn’t rap. You should go into rock ‘n’ roll. Why don’t you try alternative? Blah blah blah.” A lot of that s— was pissing me off, and I started releasing that anger in songs.
That’s when I found myself.
PAUL ROSENBERG, Eminem’s manager (Detroit Free Press interview, 2003): DJ Head called me one day (in 1997) and said, “You have to check out Eminem’s new stuff. It’s incredible.”
(Eminem) sent me a cassette, the bare bones of what would become the “Slim Shady EP.” I was blown away.
He started being himself, not trying to sound like anybody else, not rapping about what every rapper in New York did. He was being this crazy character with this great sense of humor.
The eight-track “Slim Shady EP,” funded by Mark Bass and Rosenberg, came together with the Bass Brothers at their 8 Mile Road studio, including work by Eminem friends DJ Head and Denaun Porter.
The Basses had signed the rapper to their fledgling production company, FBT, and the EP was released in late 1997.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): Until I started bringing more of my personality, how I was in real life, I didn’t really feel whole. I didn’t feel like I was honest with myself.
KEMPF: “Infinite” really showed off his mastery of the technical side of (rapping). So I don’t think there was a tremendous growth from “Infinite” to “Slim Shady” in terms of technicality. But with the imagination and characters, he grew amazingly. “Infinite” had seemed very derivative of New York. “Slim Shady” felt very unique, very Marshall.
EMINEM (FBT interview, 2002): Marky put his house up for a second mortgage to press the CDs and cassettes and vinyl, and just went full-throttle.
MARK BASS: I asked my brother-in-law to borrow $1,500, and he didn’t think it was a good investment.
So we got an advance on the mortgage.
DJ HEAD: You could see this natural progression. … He was getting even slicker with the rhymes.
As “Slim Shady” took shape in ’97, Eminem was performing wherever he could, from warehouse raves in Detroit to any out-of-town showcase or rap battle he and his cadre could nail down. Crowds were usually small, but the attendees were devoted hip-hop heads, and word-of-mouth began to simmer.
EMINEM (“The Defiant Ones,” 2017): I would just take different trips to anywhere I could, just trying to make any kind of name, just passing out cassettes.
MARK BASS: It was a little underground hip-hop subculture at that time. If you had something hot in Detroit, once it spread to New York, everybody was talking about it.
SHEVY SHOVLIN, Motormouth Magazine: His imagery was intense. There’d be fliers of him shooting up. It had a real edge to it. There was nothing else like it going on. It was almost like: This was so shocking, this guy wasn’t trying to shoot for the mainstream at all.
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): I was in New York making good connections. The EP is what we used to shop him around on a national level.
KEMPF: One of my early steps was going to Chicago, getting it in the hands of people, including radio DJs. It lit some fire in Chicago that ended up being really beneficial to us later.
MARK BASS: I was on AOL in little rap chat rooms in each city we were going to. I would just hit “Eminem Eminem Eminem.” People in the chat rooms would be, “What the hell is that?!”
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): Nobody wanted to bet their money on a white rapper. It was a big obstacle. I was walking around New York handing out the record personally to DJs. I’d bring him out (to New York), when I could afford it, to do open mics or Stretch and Bobbito’s radio show. It was working. It was getting people’s attention.
Going to California
October 1997: Underground buzz was building on Eminem, boosted by appearances at events such as the Cincinnati Scribble Jam festival. But for Marshall Mathers, real life was pressing hard: His daughter was nearly 2, money was tight, and the hardscrabble world he’d grown up in wasn’t letting up on its daily dramas.
Joined by Rosenberg and Kempf — who handled the airfare — Eminem flew to Inglewood, California, for the Rap Olympics, a battle competition.
Eminem’s second-place finish turned out to be the day’s least important development. Looking on was Evan Bogart, a young Interscope Records employee. A die-hard rap fan, he’d just been promoted from the company mail room to help coordinate a posthumous Tupac Shakur album.
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EVAN BOGART, former Interscope staffer: My friend Cassidy Hoban was DJ’ing the Rap Olympics. He called me: “Dude, you’ve got to get down here! There’s this white kid and he’s destroying everybody.” So I played hooky and went. I walked in mid-Rap Olympics and was just floored, jaw to the ground.
One of the first lines I heard Eminem say was: “Don’t make my facial tissue a racial issue.”
I went backstage. Em was fuming that he’d lost, pacing back and forth. I went up to him: “I’m Evan Bogart. I work at Interscope.” He said, “Come meet my manager.” It was Marc Kempf.
KEMPF: We met, exchanged business cards, and I made sure he got the music.
BOGART: Marc gave me the “Slim Shady EP” sampler cassette and we went our separate ways. We got in the car and I put it in. I’d never heard anything like it in my life. I knew I was listening to genius.
KEMPF: So Em twisted everybody’s ears in L.A. Then we came home. We were like: Things are going well, but there’s no money. There was frustration.
BOGART: The next day (after the Rap Olympics), I took it into Interscope. I played it for some of the guys working for (president) Tom Whalley. All I heard was, “I don’t get it, I don’t get it.”
For the next five months I was on a crusade to get everyone at Interscope and their mother to pay attention. When Eminem made the “Unsigned Hype” column in the Source (magazine), I copied it and put it on all the A&R’s doors.
One after another, I got excuses on why there was no room for a white rapper. They didn’t understand the commercial sensibility of it. They thought it would stay underground.
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): I kept in touch with (Interscope staffers). I got the material to people at Loud, at Def Jam, every label you can think of that was selling rap music. Everybody liked it but was scared to make a move on it.
MARK BASS: None of us had any money. We were all broke. We were borrowing from people or selling cassettes — a black-and-white copy of the (“Slim Shady EP”) sampler. Two bucks, four bucks. Whatever money we had, we put it together.
February 1998 brought a final roll of the dice: After loading boxes of the “Slim Shady EP” into the car, Eminem and Mark Bass headed to California, first swinging through Las Vegas for an independent rap convention. Radio appearances were lined up for Em at a pair of L.A. hip-hop stations.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): We had the “Slim Shady EP” with us, making one last shot. I said, “If this doesn’t work, I’m done.”
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): The guys at FBT and Em were getting restless — six months, a lot of buzz, no contract on the table. So they said: “We’re going west one more time to put the stuff in the stores personally. We want you to set up meetings for us.”
MARK BASS: We had a car full of product. There was somebody with us who worked for Best Western, so we were able to get a room in L.A. for $25. One room for four of us.
BOGART: Paul called me: “Em is coming into town. Can you get him a meeting at Interscope?” I finally took a chance and went over to (chairman) Jimmy Iovine’s office. I knew Jimmy took a tape bag home every weekend. Dean Dysinger was temping as Jimmy’s assistant, and we slipped a cassette into Jimmy’s tape bag — some songs from “Infinite,” some from the “Slim Shady EP.”
The next morning, I was in class and got a page from Dean.
He was like: “Jimmy just called! Dre and him heard the Eminem tape and they want to meet with him!” I said, “Well, he’s in town!”
Twenty-four hours later, the meeting was set up at Interscope that changed his life.
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): Dr. Dre had gone over to (Jimmy Iovine’s) house.
DR. DRE (“The Defiant Ones”): He pops this (cassette) in, and I was like: “What the f—, and who the f— is that? Rewind that!”
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): Dre had heard (Eminem) freestyling on Power 106 and put two and two together. He told Jimmy the next week: I want to sign him.
WENDY ADLER BASS, ex-wife of Mark Bass: The tale of Dr. Dre finding the tape in his garage — it’s always been like, “Why did they have to come up with that story?”
MARK BASS: We had been running around one afternoon putting the EP in all the L.A. stores on consignment, trying to collect $10 apiece. And the next day we got the call from Dre.
EMINEM (FBT March ’99): It was like a dream. I remember when (they) told me that Dre wanted to (work) with me, I was like, “Don’t f— with me, man. This s— is not funny.”
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): We set up a meeting on Friday. And by Monday there was a contract on the table.
MARK BASS: We were sitting there with Jimmy in the Interscope office, the door opens up, and there’s Dr. Dre. It seemed like he was about 10 feet tall. He had this nice, crisp white sweat suit on.
It was a lot for us, especially for Marshall.
DR. DRE (“The Defiant Ones”): Eminem comes in in this bright yellow sweat suit. Hoodie, pants, everything yellow.
JIMMY IOVINE (“The Defiant Ones”): I think Dre saw himself as different. When Eminem came in, and he heard that same angst and that same attitude, he said — “Oh, that’s what I do.”
WENDY ADLER BASS: It was very quick. The next day they were in an Oakwood residential hotel rented by Interscope.
MARK BASS: There was no time to even blink. It was weird.
The first day there, we talked about working together. The second day, they gave us a couple of dollars, an apartment and a car. We started working.
We had just dropped all these CDs at the stores. I asked Jimmy: “What do we do with all those records?” He said, “Well, go pick ’em back up.”
DJ HEAD: I remember when I got the phone call that he’d signed with Dre. It was like, damn, OK, this is actually gonna happen. In Detroit (hip-hop), you were used to the uphill battle. We weren’t sitting in New York, L.A. or Atlanta, where it was always right around the corner.
JOEL MARTIN, FBT manager: We were going to sign either directly with Interscope or through Dr. Dre’s label, Aftermath. It was the same difference, because when you sign with Aftermath, you’re really signed with Interscope. But Aftermath was a no-brainer.
Politically, it was the best thing to do. It’s not that he was riding on Dr. Dre’s coattails. But it definitely got him respect and an entrée into the legitimate rap world.
Look at the backlash (to white rappers) at that point because of Vanilla Ice. It was imperative, especially from the record company’s standpoint, that Dr. Dre endorse this, because Dr. Dre was legitimate. If Dr. Dre is presenting him, maybe it will be taken a little bit more seriously.
Dr. Dre actually loved Marshall, though. It made it that much easier.
KEMPF: If overnight success is a two-year period, then he was an overnight success. That was a serious grind by me, Em, Marky and Jeff. It was a lot of work.
Hitting the studio
Eminem and the Basses immediately got to work, even while the record deal was still being hammered out. Operating with a $350,000 budget, according to Mark Bass, the plan was in motion: a full-length album to be titled “The Slim Shady LP.” Dre would produce three tracks. The remainder would be handled by the Bass Brothers, including material reworked from the “Slim Shady EP.”
The Basses rented space at the Mix Room studio in Burbank, recently opened by an old Detroit friend, Ben Grosse.
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BEN GROSSE, Mix Room owner: Eminem was just sort of our rapper-in-residence. It wasn’t a big project at the time. He was an unknown. Mark and Jeff were friends of mine from back (in Detroit), and I set them up with this room.
JEFF BASS: He had two main rooms: One was his big mix studio, which we obviously couldn’t afford. And the B studio, we couldn’t afford that either. So we said, “There’s a small closet right here. We can probably fit our gear.” I think it was $1,200 a month. We brought the little bit of equipment that we owned, and that’s where we stayed for 20 hours a day creating the album. Literally working around this little mixing console.
MARTIN: It was the size of a coat-check room.
MARK BASS: The room was so small that we had to build toward the ceiling. All of our equipment was in racks going up, up, up, like a little city. And it became the party room.
JEFF BASS: The (Interscope) contracts weren’t even done. There was a short form deal they’d given us. So at least we knew we were in and could begin to work.
Money hadn’t started yet. Dr. Dre was kind — he’d send us over some cash so we could eat or whatever. It was a struggle at the beginning, but it didn’t feel like it, because we were engrossed in making this album.
GROSSE: Sometimes they’d do vocals right in the control room — they just sat there and put headphones on him and did it.
JEFF BASS: We were busting out these songs left and right. Boom-boom-boom. And there were probably up to a dozen songs that were never released.
WENDY ADLER BASS: It smelled like an ashtray. It was a lot of tired people eating really bad food.
GROSSE: There were a lot of shenanigans going on. I’d come here in the morning and those guys would be conked out on the console.
MARK BASS: I remember one night Henry Rollins coming over to our little room and asking us, “Hi, excuse me, excuse me — can you guys just turn it down just a little bit while I’m cutting my vocal?” Here’s this crazy motherf—–, Henry Rollins, approaching us really nice and polite. So we turned it down.
KEITH ARMSTRONG, audio engineer (FBT ’99): They bring a whole other mood to the Mix Room. It’s like another planet on that side of the building.
WENDY ADLER BASS: Marshall went to L.A. as a typical brown-headed kid. Then one day he came into the studio with red hair. I thought he looked like Annie Lennox. He was trying to get a look. And then Karen Pinegar walked in.
KAREN PINEGAR, former Mix Room office manager: I said, “Em, you need to cut your hair really short and dye it white platinum blond.” He said, “Really?” I must have seen it on a couple of rock stars at the time — they’d had long hair and cut it short, and it looked really cool.
So one day he comes in, and lo and behold, there it was. When I first met him, he was heavier, with this salt-and-pepper hair. Now his face was chiseling out — he was a good-looking guy. And I just thought that hairstyle would make him pop.
EMINEM (“The Way I Am”): I was high on (Ecstasy), walking the streets with (Detroit rapper Royce da 5’9″). We went into a drugstore and bought a bottle of peroxide. I had taken two hits of Ecstasy — I was out of my mind. The next day I looked in the mirror and forgotten I’d did it.
In a quirk of timing that spring, the Mix Room simultaneously hosted Eminem and Kid Rock, old acquaintances from Detroit. While Em and the Basses cut their tracks, Rock and his team were down the hall rounding out mixes for his Atlantic Records debut, “Devil Without a Cause.”
GROSSE: They’d both just gotten their deals. They were unknowns, which is that purgatory.
BOGART: It was like a family at the Mix Room. The whole place was Detroit. Kid Rock was in one room making his album that was gonna blow up. Eminem was in another making his album that was gonna blow up.
JEFF BASS: You had Ben Grosse, Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker, Eminem, me, my brother — we were all just Detroit homies in L.A. It was like the perfect movie.
GROSSE: I was working with Third Eye Blind, and the singer Stephan (Jenkins) said it would be great if we got some rappers on this song. I went, “Hey, we’ve got some rappers in the building.” So I had both Bob and Marshall rapping on one of his songs. They were thrilled — it was Third Eye Blind. But it was funny, because Stephan was trying to tell them how to rap. And they were kind of like, “Uh, OK.”
I turned it in to (Third Eye Blind’s) label. It was an experiment he’d wanted to try for a remix, but nobody knew who (Eminem and Kid Rock) were, so nobody gave a s— about it.
STEVE HUTTON, former Kid Rock manager: We were staying at the Oakwood and so was Eminem. It was fine — you were twentysomething, you were there for work, you didn’t have an L.A. apartment yet, so this is where you stayed. It wasn’t great; it wasn’t bad. It felt like a camp for adults.
We’d get to the studio at 10 or 11 in the morning, and there’d be bagels and coffee — that would be our breakfast.
JEFF BASS: The main thing that came out of all that was Em doing a song on Kid Rock’s album (“F— Off”) and Kid Rock scratching for Em on “’97 Bonnie and Clyde.”
The truly decisive game-changing moment came early in the process: Eminem’s first musical interaction with Dr. Dre, in a session at the iconic producer’s home recording facility.
JEFF BASS: It was our first meeting at Dre’s studio. Mel-Man, who was Dre’s DJ and producer, pretty much already had the track together.
DR. DRE (“The Defiant Ones”): I hit the drum machine, and maybe two or three seconds went by, and (Eminem) just went: “Hi, my name is! Hi, my name is! Hi, my name is Slim Shady!”
That’s what happened the first day, in the first few minutes, of us being in the studio.
EMINEM (MTV News, 2000): The point where I actually knew I made it was the first day that I went to Dre’s house, and we recorded three songs in less than six hours. It was like everything he’d made a track to, every beat that he made, I had a rhyme to either go with it, or sat down and wrote one right there. And (I) went in the studio and just spit as best as I could.
I was really out to impress him, to show him what I could do. And when I saw Dre nodding his head and laughing at some of the things that I was saying and whatnot, I was like, “I’m in. I made it.”
ROSENBERG (FBT March ’99): To step in the studio with somebody and write a song like that, have it done on the first day, and have it be such a huge success is just amazing — something that was meant to be.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): I didn’t really need a direction, necessarily. Dre produced the songs he produced on the album, and then kind of just sat back. I did my own s— in the studio and submitted it to him, like, “Look — this is what I’m doing.” And he agreed with everything. He saw where I was taking it, so he didn’t really have to tell me too much. Dre is more hipping me to the business aspect than anything, giving me guidance. I know pretty much where I want to go with my music.
BOGART: Em was so excited coming into the Mix Room and playing us these Dre songs, the first versions of “My Name Is” and “Role Model.” It was so special.
Eminem was the maestro directing all these talented people around him.
JEFF BASS: Em loved to help create the rhythm tracks. Occasionally, he would hum a bass line in his little quirky way, and I’d try to interpret what he was humming.
This is how we would produce every day: We’d go in the studio and it would start off with a “dum-dum-duh-dum” — OK, is this what you’re hearing? “Yeah.” I’d create it from there. That album, especially, was a total collaboration.
WENDY ADLER BASS: It was a lot of listening and listening and listening — you’d have to take the (latest) recording into everybody’s car. They were very critical of their work, all of them. Which I think made it that much better in the long run.
Lyrical growth and taking chances
During the “Slim Shady” sessions, Eminem’s complex rhyme patterns and wordplay came with an increasingly bold lyrical voice. Still wisecracking with a defiant chip on his shoulder, he was also turning the poison pen on himself — revealing a vulnerability not often seen in the hip-hop of the time.
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GROSSE: He’d have this legal pad full of stuff. It would be one verse and he’d just slam through that whole page in speed raps.
JEFF BASS: He was writing on the fly.
PINEGAR: I remember always finding notes around — little papers with his writing and ideas. I’d never throw them away. I always put them in a pile in their studio.
WENDY ADLER BASS: He wrote his lyrics in circles on paper. He had tons of notebooks. Hundreds. And he liked having us around as a walking thesaurus. There was a kitchen in the Mix Room. He’d come in: “Wendy, I need a word for this!” We weren’t writing it for him; we were just throwing out words.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): Motherf—–s need to learn not to take (things) so seriously. A lot of my lines, a lot of my rhymes, are just to get chuckles out of people. Anybody with half a brain is gonna be able to tell when I’m joking and when I’m serious.
WENDY ADLER BASS: He was pretty shy. Angry but subtly so. He was never outwardly angry, walking around mad. I could just sense insecurity, like he was questioning everything that was going on, because he was an intelligent guy. He was being pulled in a lot of different directions and didn’t know who to trust. But he was very, very, very humorous.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): Even a lot of my comical lines, there’s truth to them. There’s a part of me that’s venting over my childhood. I revert back to a lot of that stuff on the album, stuff that happened to me. I make jokes about myself, the way I was raised, things I did.
BUSHMAN: He wrote from his experiences, and people could relate to that. You could be white, black, Hispanic, Chinese.
The way he put his words together was so phenomenal. People really respected him for that. They looked at how complex he was in putting words together — yo, this kid is dope.
KUNIVA: (In the wake of Vanilla Ice), he had an authentic backstory as a white artist.
He was worried that people would see him as a fluke, a flash in the pan. He wanted people to know he had lyrical ability and songs that people could actually relate to. He was speaking for the person who’s not a gangsta, but who loves lyricism and loves to hear wild, crazy stuff. He wanted to be embraced by the hip-hop community.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): A lot of people are going to be like, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe you said that!” But until you’ve been in my shoes, don’t judge me. My mother doesn’t like the fact that I talk about her doing drugs. Even though I say it in a joking kind of way, I think it hits home with her. And she knows. She knows. My mother knows.
BOGART: His internal rhyme schemes were so intricate. He’d rhyme two words, go off on a tangent and rhyme three or four, then come back to the original rhyme. It was intricate but felt effortless. The pop culture references, the way he’d break people down, felt so conversational. He had this perfect dose of tongue-in-cheek but machete.
RICHARD PATRICK, Filter singer (recording at the Mix Room, ’99): They come from a place in juvenile crazy-dom, but they’re intelligent enough that there’s more (to the lyrics). There’s a lot of substance.
BUSHMAN: Lyrically, he painted a picture for you. It was theatrical.
The raw rudeness of Eminem’s lyrics would eventually spur outcries from both conservative and liberal camps. But at the turn of the millennium, when the phrase “political correctness” was just penetrating the mainstream, the culture had enough free-speech wiggle room to keep from derailing his momentum.
As self-described “poor white trash,” he played off his background with humor, anger and self-jabs, weaving songs that blurred reality and fiction: There was “Brain Damage,” calling out the name of Marshall Mathers’ real-life childhood bully. There was “’97 Bonnie & Clyde,” a graphic yarn that had Slim Shady dumping the body of his murdered girlfriend as his young daughter cooed in the background.
And there was “My Fault” — his over-the-top tale of a night gone bad because of a party date overloaded with drugs. While it was the work of Eminem’s imagination, the song was apparently inspired in part by a real-life friend back in Michigan. (The Free Press is not naming her.)
Female friend (filmed by FBT film crew in 1999): I’d been talking to him a lot. I think (the song) is me and a bunch of other people, and he pulled all these things he’s seen into one song. I know I told him this one story, when I was tripping and fell into a cactus. We were laughing our asses off, and he goes: “Do you mind I write a song about that, about you?” I said, “I don’t care.”
He was just being creative and added some truth here and there.
JEFF BASS: She was friends with a couple of dudes that would come in. She was just a party animal every time she came into the studio. That enticed him to write this thing.
WENDY ADLER BASS: I’m sensitive to prejudice and bashing people. But his personality wasn’t about being mean. I could see it was all done in jest. Even Elton John ended up seeing that. But all those controversies brought good attention.
They weren’t worried or cautious. You’ve heard the skits — those were raw, dirty, hilarious. And taking a big challenge. Marshall didn’t care one bit (about backlash).
Tijuana, just south of the Mexican border, turned out to loom large for at least part of the Eminem camp during the “Slim Shady” sessions.
JEFF BASS: We learned something really quick about Tijuana: You could go to the pharmacies there and get whatever you want. And the problem was, how are you going to get it back into California? So we’d put it in our suitcases. We’d go and pick up a thousand Valium, a thousand Vicodin, a thousand Quaaludes, you name it. Next thing you know, we’re feeding everybody these pills. That’s how stupid we were. It was rock ‘n’ roll. We were so stupid.
We’d send Eminem and another kid down there to pick up some more. They’d wrap the pills around them, get in the car, and drive back.
We were young and dumb. Me, my brother, Marshall — we all became addicted to drugs. What was so easy then became a big, big problem. It took me until I was 49 years old to go to rehab and clean up.
MARK BASS: We were nuts. It was the new rock ‘n’ roll. I can imagine all the new rappers, Tekashi 6ix9ine and Skinnyfromthe9, living the same life we were. We were having fun. But at the same time, s— was getting done. We did Marshall’s record in three weeks.
HUTTON: One morning the Bass Brothers were telling us: “Marshall was supposed to be here at 11. He’s never late.” So at 1 o’clock they went to the Oakwood. He wouldn’t answer. They knocked and knocked. Still no answer. So they broke down the door. They couldn’t wake him up. They thought he was dead. It turns out he’d taken too many sleeping pills or Valium the night before. He was too f—ed up to wake up.
EMINEM (“The Way I Am”): The funny thing is, I didn’t really start doing drugs until I rapped about them.
Though they visited L.A. periodically, Eminem’s girlfriend, Kim, and their daughter, Hailie, stayed put in their home just outside Detroit. Distance didn’t make Kim and Marshall’s famously tumultuous relationship any smoother, according to those on the scene.
Securing cash to wire home for 3-year-old Hailie — to whom he eventually dedicated the album — was an ongoing concern for the rapper.
Said one source who worked closely with Eminem at the time: “He seemed fearless. He told me that when he’d go to Dre’s house they would have these massive joints. Blunts everywhere. The weed would be flowing, the girls would be over there. And he wasn’t into any of it. Weed was never really his thing. And the girls — he was like, ‘I’m not getting in trouble with Kim.’ But he knew how to hang. Because he could hang, he wasn’t intimidated. And it’s easier to respect somebody who’s not starstruck.”
WENDY ADLER BASS: He missed Kim. He did a have a deep love for her at that time. I think he was lonely in L.A.
PINEGAR: We were close. He was in my office every day, talking and chatting. Hailie was his No. 1 priority. It was all about the baby. That’s what he cared about and talked about.
JEFF BASS: He had a rough way with (Kim). It wasn’t easy then. But it wasn’t easy during the “Infinite” album back on 8 Mile Road either. It was a pretty crazy relationship — love-hate. The only time he’d really go home from L.A. was for Hailie.
Voices, noises, skits and a new take on hip-hop
Dr. Dre’s three “Slim Shady” tracks — “My Name Is,” “Guilty Conscience,” “Role Model” — were created in classic hip-hop style: using sampled records.
The Basses opted for another approach, avoiding samples in favor of live instruments and software that added a vintage feel. Jeff Bass, the main instrumentalist of the pair, dubbed it their “clap” technique — classical music and rap — and deployed it on songs like “Just Don’t Give a F—.”
The “Slim Shady EP,” cut in Detroit, had been sample-heavy. Three of its tracks were repurposed for the upcoming LP — but with the samples now stripped out and replaced by live production.
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JEFF BASS: I knew that when you took a sample of someone else’s work, you had to get a clearance for it. And a lot of times that was very difficult to do. We didn’t have that kind of money to pay licensing fees. So, at an early stage in the production, we decided we might as well play it live and make it sound like a sample — like it came from an old record.
MARK BASS (FBT March ’99): We can play a bass line and a drum that comes out of any box, load it into ProTools with this vinyl program, and bam — it sounds like it came off a record anyway. So they feel the pops, hisses, pips and pops, the off-time shift that makes a hip-hop record.
(Sampling) is the art of hip-hop. But there’s a finer art in it by being able to create a hip-hop album that sounds like samples — that feels like a hip-hop album, but is sample-free and clear. And you know what? We may make a couple of dollars.
JEFF BASS: A lot of the old vocals (from the “Slim Shady EP”) were used. We just replaced the music. At our studio back on 8 Mile Road, there was a certain sound we achieved because the vocal room was all wooden. You could hear this natural reverb.
MARTIN: There’d been a litany of lawsuits in hip-hop because of samples. I knew about most of them because they originated out of Detroit with George Clinton and Motown. The record companies couldn’t give a s—. They’d walk in and say, “Mmm, you didn’t clear the sample.” But they don’t pay the bill. The artist does. The artist gets sued and has to fight it. If the artist loses, they’re responsible for everything.
MARK BASS, ’99: We finished the cutting the album with no samples in three weeks. And it took nine months to clear one sample for a song Dre did.
MARTIN: Out of the 14 songs on the album, there were three lawsuits. They were all on Dr. Dre’s songs — and none for anything that (FBT) did, because we had no samples.
I think it was the start of an awareness (in hip-hop) that you could create a record and make it feel like it was legitimate, as opposed to using actual samples.
EMINEM (“The Way I Am”): I don’t make a penny off of (the) writing on “My Name Is.”
The freewheeling mood in the studio was obvious on the finished record. In the fashion of the times, the album was loaded with between-song “skits,” introducing fans to characters from Eminem’s world, both real (Interscope exec Steve Berman) and invented (Ken Kaniff).
Em and company were also playful with the music, layering tracks with all manner of sound effects and extra voices.
MARK BASS: That’s Marshall’s craziness and talent all wrapped into one. It was like a modern-day Beatles, recording-wise. All live instruments, doing backwards things, speeding stuff up, slowing down. And Marshall loves to play with vocals, so a lot of times he’d want to go in and do something. And I’d be thinking, “Ugh, what is he gonna do?” And he would blow us away.
Any singing was me, my brother and Marshall. The little background noises, always Marshall.
JEFF BASS: We just had fun. We’d laugh all the time — “I can’t believe someone’s paying for us to do this.”
Like the “Soap” skit with me and Royce — “Skylar Montgomery” — yelling at each other with organ in the background. And the skit before “Bad Meets Evil.” I went in there and I was talking like an old sheriff down south. We were just cracking each other up.
BOGART: The skits on the album are all real. (Rapper) Aristotle prank-called Eminem from another room in the studio. It became the Ken Kaniff thing. It wasn’t scripted at all.
Justin Trugman had done production on “As the World Turns.” I knew his pager code, and we’d listen to his messages for fun. We broke into his pager and there was a message from Zoe Winkler — the Fonz’s daughter. So we recorded it.
Every day was like a party in the studio. You didn’t know what would happen next.
JEFF BASS: With “My Fault,” we were making fun of some pop record at the time. We did the track, and then I started singing: (Croons) “I never meant to give you mushrooms, girl.” We said wait — let’s do a skit. We went into the studio with a guitar and a bunch of dudes, and just started singing it. And that was the “Lounge” skit that came before “My Fault.” It’s hilarious because when I listen back 20 years later, you (realize) there’s no girls in there. It’s like you’re in a club with all guys. It’s ironic, because Eminem and the whole homophobia thing happened.
Sitting on the launch pad
Marc Kempf, Em’s onetime manager back in Detroit, had been left behind after a falling-out in early ’98. Eminem turned to old friend and attorney Rosenberg, who until then had been doing much of his work pro bono. Just as the album was about to hit, he was hired as manager.
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ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): Since I was there from an early point and believed in him, that obviously developed a lot of trust. I also think my actions and way I handled things, I was always on the up-and-up. When I said I’d do something, I did it. When something didn’t happen, I told the truth. I honestly looked out for his best interests.
JIMMY IOVINE (Detroit Free Press interview, 2003): (Paul) can see the big picture. And what he doesn’t know, he can learn in 4 seconds. Not everybody in the record business can see that. A lot of people lose their heads.
JEFF BASS: Dr. Dre set up a listening party at the Beverly Hilton. There were probably 30 people there. I remember sitting with my brother and Dre, talking about how amazing, from beginning to end, the album felt. We knew we had something.
Dr. Dre’s mixes blew away any other mix on there. That was OK. That’s what it was meant to be. It felt raw. It seemed like it was exactly how it should happen.
We knew we had something good. It was just a matter of getting it out and — hopefully — he’d have a fan base that could appreciate it.
KUNIVA: (Eminem) was nervous — really, really nervous and excited at the same time. He would come home from California every now and then while he was working on album. Denaun (Porter) and him and me would be riding, and he’d be talking about how excited he was. He was the hometown hero to us. Nobody else rooted for him like we did, so it was kind of happening to all of us. We were living vicariously through him.
MARK BASS: Me and Marshall were in the office with Jimmy, saying something about we couldn’t wait to see Marshall up on a billboard. The next day Jimmy told me to drive up (La Brea Avenue). He had a huge billboard for “Slim Shady.” It was like, OK, now something could be happening here.
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): We knew were going to have success. We didn’t know what level it was going to be. Nobody did.
The zeitgeist had lined up perfectly for Eminem: The Internet was starting to blossom. MTV still had sway. Hip-hop was restless and evolving. Alternative music was primed for a fresh breath. In the pre-9/11 moment of Bill Clinton and dotcom exuberance, a rascally confidence was afoot, and the hungry Detroit rapper embodied it.
So the volcano was primed to erupt when “My Name Is” hit MTV on Jan. 21, 1999. All of the “Slim Shady” videos were memorable — the “Matrix”-style slow-mo of “Guilty Conscience,” the burnt sepia tones of “Role Model,” the gritty feel of “Just Don’t Give a F—.”
But it was the “My Name Is” clip, directed by Philip Atwell, that sealed the deal out of the gate.
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ERIC ZIMMERMAN, video editor on “My Name Is”: It was a time of experimentation, and they were into pushing the envelope. It was very irreverent. It was shot on film, so there wasn’t a ton of footage. It had to be more focused and compact.
It was kind of shot in an R&B style, the way they would do those videos back in the day with the film and little vignettes. Dr. Dre was a big creative force on that video. He would sit with me at the console and we’d get into it, shoulder to shoulder. He was very hands-on.
We created all those elements with the “Shady Bunch” and different looks in the studio. It was funny, because people in the room were saying, “Do you think Jimmy Iovine will like the video?” Dr. Dre was like, “He’s gonna like the video.” It was edgy at the time, but people responded to it.
BOGART: I remember walking onto the set when the “My Name Is” video was being shot and saying: “Hey, where’s Em?” They said, “He’s right next to you!” I turned to my right and he was in Marilyn Manson makeup.
At that moment, it was like: Here we go. Here’s where the rest of the world realizes what we already know. This dude is going to be a superstar.
MARK BASS: Jimmy called me at like 2 a.m. and said, “In an hour, the video is gonna come up on MTV.” We knew the record was a smash. But when the visual came with it, it was like, oh my God.
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): Eminem was sleeping on the couch in my apartment. It was 2 or 3 in morning the first time we saw the video for “My Name Is” on MTV. It was (promoted as) “Buzzworthy.” We realized, “Whoa, this might be something. We might sell some records here.”
EMINEM (MTV News, 2000): I didn’t even know what a buzz clip was. … I sat down on the couch and I was like, “Wow, I’m actually doing it.”
KUNIVA: I had just got off work. I was in my basement on East 7 Mile (in Detroit). Denaun was staying with me back then. He would sleep on the couch in the living room with the TV on. He said he remembered: “I’m hearing Eminem’s voice. I’m hearing Eminem’s voice.” He turned over and looked at the TV — and there it was.
ZIMMERMAN: It’s a credit to Dr. Dre and Eminem and (director) Philip (Atwell) together. They brainstormed this and it came out as they’d visualized.
KUNIVA: We stood in my living room watching, mouths both open — “Wow, this is it. He’s here.” We were jumping up and down. It was a like a huge victory. It was one thing, hearing it was gong to happen. It was another thing seeing it come to fruition.
GROSSE: (At the recording studio), Marshall was just kind of the funny kid. We were all laughing with him. Then we heard “My Name Is,” and it was like, “OK, wow, that’s pretty good.”
And then, with the video, you knew it was over at that point. The whole paradigm shifted. Now it was: “I get it.”
JEFF BASS: We were so deep into the creation of this kid’s image and sound and the topics he was talking about, we didn’t really pay attention to what was going on outside as far as, “Are people talking about him or not?”
But when that video came out, that was it. Everybody fell in love with that artist.
ZIMMERMAN: The video was a commentary on pop culture and the media. It starts out with a family at home watching TV, and suddenly they start to see things you wouldn’t expect. It becomes this pop-culture satire.
By turning it inside out as a commentary on the music-video medium itself, they were poking fun at the whole idea of it. It has that postmodern element. It hit a vein because people had been saturated by music videos at that point. It was very clever, and that’s what people responded to.
WENDY ADLER BASS: The record-release party at the House of Blues in L.A. was an amazing night. Dustin Hoffman performed. There was just a lot of talent in that house. The D12 guys were there. It showed me he was on a roll and about to take off in a big way. You felt it in your bones.
MARTIN: We were sitting on top of this thing that was blowing up.
By the time “The Slim Shady LP” dropped on Feb. 23, 1999, the Eminem phenomenon was its own monster, beyond the the control of the rapper, his close-knit circle or his record label.
BUSHMAN: The album dropped and BOOM. He skyrocketed to stardom real quick.
SHOVLIN: You kind of knew he’d be the white rapper the black community would respect. But you didn’t have any idea at the time he was going to become the biggest rock star in the world. I was playing the music for all my rock friends, and everybody was just blown away by it.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): I gotta f—ing wake up at 8, 9 o’clock after I’ve been out ’til like 5. I don’t get no sleep.
JOE GREENWALD, former Interscope staffer: We had set up a bunch of promo. Obviously, at that point, we didn’t know how big it was going to get, but we knew something magical was happening.
There was an MTV crew that flew in to follow him around (in Detroit). We were going to start that morning at the Harmonie Park studio downtown, where a radio station was going to have 20 winners and some staff. We would bring Em up, he’d do a meet-and-greet, then do a quick freestyle. Well, we got there, and there were probably 100 to 150 people. He freaked out and did not handle it well.
When I picked him up, he’d already had a bottle of vodka — drinking at 7 a.m. He was freaked out: “I’m not gonna do this! You told me 30 people!” I managed to talk him into doing it, and we got through it.
EMINEM (“The Way I Am”): I had never really been a full-throttle drinker, but once we got on tour it was just so crazy.
Sometimes we’d do two or three shows a day. We’d work, drink, pass out, wake up and move on to the next show.
DJ HEAD, longtime Eminem DJ: (His circle of friends) was the same people who had been there when there was nothing. Which is how you’d want it to be.
GROSSE: Even after he blew up, I went to a few parties with him, and he was always that same guy. He was the opposite, personality-wise, of Kid Rock.
GREENWALD: I don’t know that it was shyness. I think it was more of a reticence to be in the public eye. (Kid Rock) soaked it up. He needed it. It was his lifeblood. But Eminem — it turned him off. He didn’t need it. I think he just wanted to make music and hang out with his friends.
JEFF BASS: Nothing ever went to his head, as far as “I’m the big star.” I think he was uncomfortable with that.
EMINEM (FBT ’99): I haven’t changed a bit. I lost a few pounds, probably from the stress of all of this s—, but I have fun onstage. It’s not all work.
PINEGAR: It made him grow up rather quickly. He never became a jerk, but he was more aware of what was going on him around him, putting his guard up.
BUSHMAN: You look at anybody else from Detroit during that time who made it — they left. But he stayed here. And that was just as powerful as the music.
EMINEM (“The Way I Am”): I’m just a regular dude from Detroit. … I’ve maintained that relationship with my hometown for many years because I’m a loyal dude.
PINEGAR: At the Mix Room, he was just another artist doing a record. And within less than a year, he’d transformed into a superstar. I’d never seen anything like it.
GREENWALD: He was just this crazy dude who was fun. The biggest takeaway for me was the dichotomy between the perception of who he was, and who he really was. The perception was that he was this really troubled guy — and sure, he was. He had drug and alcohol issues. We all know that. But he wasn’t some mean-spirited guy.
Just because you rap about something, it doesn’t mean that’s truly who you are. It’s a story. It can be fiction. A lot of people took what he said about his wife and his mother so literally.
He wasn’t my best friend, but I knew him pretty well. He was nice and kind and hardworking — all the things you want out of an artist. Messed-up, for sure. But none of that violence or misogyny that people put on him. I never saw one iota of that.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): My father? I never knew him. I’ve never even seen a picture of him. I don’t even know what he looks like. … He lives out here in California. He’s tried to get in contact with me, now that I’m on TV. Now that I’m doing all these things here and there — now he’s trying to get in touch with me.
MATT LARSEN (FBT interview, March ’99): It’s been an amazing last few weeks. I’ve never seen a project fit so many formats of radio. I look at all the stations here in Detroit — you’ve got urban stations, alternative stations, Top 40 crossover. This has caught fire so quickly with the help of MTV.
KEMPF: I’ll be honest: I saw success coming. I saw gold records. But I didn’t see quadruple-platinum.
The co-signature of Dr. Dre meant so much for his acceptance into mainstream hip-hop. There was certainly some luck involved in meeting Evan Bogart, then Jimmy Iovine putting his ear to it, and him passing it to Dr. Dre, who understood what was going on. So there was luck.
WENDY ADLER BASS: The CD came out, and you saw Mark and Jeff produced 17 songs — and then all the press started saying Dr. Dre was the (lone) executive producer. So there was some talking people off the ledge. It was a good thing to have Dr. Dre’s name backing it. But these guys had worked so hard.
EMINEM (FBT ’99): (The review in) Rolling Stone said “Bonnie & Clyde” was wack, and “My Fault” sounded like it belongs on a “sorry-ass Bloodhound Gang record.” I don’t even sweat it, though. I’ve got the cover next month.
MARK BASS: There was a Rolling Stone cover, XXL, the Source, all in the same week. He didn’t think he’d ever get on that stuff. The floodgates just opened.
GREENWALD: A lot of rock radio stations played it. When something is that big, you just can’t ignore it. Especially in the Detroit region.
Interscope is a smart, aggressive label. But I think, realistically, they were pretty surprised too. You can’t plan for rocket fuel. They were really wise in letting it follow its own path. Obviously you go to urban (radio), you go to hip-hop, you probably go to pop. But for it to become a rock and alternative thing, they just let the song lead, they let the energy lead. And when they saw there was potential at those outlets, (the company) pushed us hard.
Sometimes when a rocket ship takes off, you just kind of hang on. And we were doing a lot of that.
EMINEM (FBT ’99): It’s f—ing bananas. It’s hard work. I get up in the morning, get ready, get on a plane, get somewhere, go to two or three radio stations, do an in-store, then do a show. Every night.
I always thought, like, you rap, you wear a gold chain, you get the bitches, and that’s it. And cars. And you’ve got a fat crib. That’s all I thought. I didn’t realize all of the work, the effort, that goes into it. It’s 24/7.
At least when people work regular jobs, they get days off. My vacation time is spent writing, or with Hailie running around the house while I’m writing.
Forward into the future
By early April, “The Slim Shady LP” had been certified gold; by month’s end it was double platinum for 2 million copies distributed. The album was still flying high when Dr. Dre dropped “The Chronic 2001” in November, featuring memorable spots by Eminem.
And by year’s end, Eminem had formed Shady Records — a label that helped put his longtime Detroit comrades D12, including best friend Proof, on the global map.
* * *
Detroit Free Press, Feb. 28, 1999: “Over the next 10 months, he’ll likely emerge as the biggest Detroit artist of the decade, bringing long-awaited respect for a local hip-hop scene that has often seemed stuck in third gear.”
KUNIVA: Our whole thing was: Whoever gets a record deal first, you come back and get the rest of the group. Once he blew up, he actually came back and did it. So we weren’t surprised. He could have stayed out in California and lived the life, but he kept his word.
EMINEM (DFP ’99): Dre’s definitely got my back, and I’ve got his too. I feel like we’ve got a blood marriage, so to speak. Dre saved my life in a way.
PATRICK (FBT ’99): The problem with most hip-hop artists is they have no staying power. And I think that’s scary for any of these guys. … But if you can continue to reinvent yourself and do things, you’ll be fine.
KEMPF: When Em started succeeding, Detroit had something to brag about for the first time, from the (hip-hop) MC standpoint. All the hundreds of aspiring, hungry Detroit talents saw that and were energized by it. They saw there was a pathway. And to some extent, the industry turned its head and finally said, “What’s going on in Detroit?”
BUSHMAN: There was a time where (labels) were scared of Detroit — they always had this idea that Detroit was so dangerous. I don’t think people wanted to mess with Detroit like that. That album came out and it opened doors for people, to see Detroit wasn’t what they thought it was.
ROSENBERG (FBT ’99): As an artist, I think Em is gonna get a little more personal with his music. I mean, he jokes about it personally. He’s already working on stuff for his next album, where the titles of the songs are “Mom,” “Kim,” “Our House” — sort of a biography. I think the music is really dramatic and moves along with that. I think that’s the direction Em is headed in.
EMINEM (FBT ’99): When I get tired of rapping —, or if I’m too old to rap or don’t feel like it anymore — I’ll probably get into some producing, probably some acting.
ROSENBERG (DFP ’03): Every time I say I don’t see how it’s going to get any bigger, somehow it does. Every time we say, “Wow, we’ve reached our peak,” something else comes along that brings it to the next step.
KUNIVA: I’m really nostalgic listening to (“The Slim Shady LP”), because it puts you back in that late ‘90s era. It was the ultimate introduction, with that caliber of music and lyricism. Eminem was so detailed with his storytelling, so precise, and it was just a setup for what was to come.
It was the best that it could be at the time. I think he ended up topping it by a million times. It was the beginning of a very, very prominent career.
It was just a drop in the bucket. But it was a heavy-ass drop.
Contact Detroit Free Press music writer Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cast of characters
Jeff Bass: The Detroit musician was the older half of Detroit’s Bass Brothers production team.
Mark Bass: The younger half of the Bass Brothers began working with Eminem in the early ‘90s.
Wendy Adler Bass: The metro Detroit resident was married to Mark Bass and was a preschool teacher during Eminem’s rise.
Bushman: The longtime Detroit radio personality is a hip-hop disc jockey at WJLB-FM.
Evan Bogart: Was a low-level Interscope Records employee in 1997. He’s gone on to become a songwriter with credits including Beyoncé’s “Halo” and Rihanna’s “SOS.”
Dr. Dre: The L.A. rapper-producer was with N.W.A. and went on to start the Interscope affiliate Aftermath Records.
DJ Head: The Detroit hip-hop veteran was Eminem’s longtime stage DJ.
Joe Greenwald: Formerly Interscope’s Midwest artist development rep. Today he’s the head of promotion at C3 Management.
Ben Grosse: The metro Detroit native is a producer-mixer who opened the Mix Room studio in Los Angeles in 1997.
Eminem: Detroit rapper.
Steve Hutton: Music industry veteran who once managed Kid Rock and has gone on to represent a host of rock artists.
Jimmy Iovine: Veteran record producer who founded Interscope Records in 1990.
Marc Kempf: Was Eminem’s manager and publisher of Detroit’s Underground Soundz in the mid-‘90s. Today he runs Reel to Reel Design and Duplication, as well as Long Range Distribution.
Kuniva: The Detroit rapper born Von Carlisle is a longtime Eminem friend and a member of the group D12.
Joel Martin: Longtime Detroit studio operator and manager of the Bass Brothers’ FBT Productions.
Richard Patrick: The singer’s band Filter was recording at the Mix Room during the making of Eminem’s album.
Karen Pinegar: Was the studio manager of the Mix Room in Los Angeles in the late ‘90s; today is self employed.
Paul Rosenberg: The University of Detroit law-school grad was and is Eminem’s manager. He was named head of Def Jam Recordings in 2017.
Shevy Shovlin: Founder and publisher of Detroit’s Motormouth Magazine. Today he’s a new-media producer in Los Angeles.
Eric Zimmerman: Editor of the Eminem videos “My Name Is” and “Role Model.” Most recently he directed the sci-fi film “Caller ID: Entity” and is completing the documentary “The Benders Circuit.”