Read the full transcript of the interview Eminem did with KXNG Crooked on his podcast Crook’s Corner.
Marshall Mathers: When the album first came out, “Music To Be Murdered By”, sometimes I like to trip off people’s reactions and shit, and I didn’t get the Young M.A line when she was like:
You can leave this earth, bitch
I’m in rake mode.
I’m like, “What, why’s everybody tripping there?” Leave this earth, rake mode. And it just flew over my fucking head. And I was like, “Damn, I didn’t even get that shit”. And your verse on “I Will” when you said:
John Wilkes, that’s who I’m in the booth like
Ayy, bruh, I go ham for dead presidents
I got the ham from A-bra-ham, I got the A-bra, but I didn’t get “Aye, bruh”, like (nudging someone) “Aye, bruh”. You know what I’m saying? I missed that, and I was like, “Fuck, how did I miss that, God damn?!”
KXNG Crooked: Yeah, I mean that’s what happens. That Ohio scheme you did, that shit was crazy. And it took me two listens to get the Cincinnati. You know what I’m saying? I was like, “Wait a minute. “Since-an-addy, oh, shit!”
– The shortest thing for address. Yeah, I saw some people got that, I don’t know if you ever be sitting around writing some shit and you’re like, “Man, nobody’s gonna get this shit”. And then you’re like, “All right, well, let me just try it and see if anybody does”, right? But that’s kind of the beauty of wordplay, sometimes people ain’t gonna get it the first listen. They’ll get it the second, third, fourth, fifth listen.
– It’s gonna take a lot of listens for the new one that you just dropped, “Music to be Murdered By.” It’s so many lines in there, so many.
– What’s up, y’all, It’s your man, KXNG Crooked. I’m live in Dr. Dre’s lab right now. And I could spend the whole episode giving props to the man across the room from me. You know, his achievements are just incredible. What are you doing, Marshall?
– You were talking about me?
– Yeah, I’m talking about you. I got the homie in the house, one of the greatest of all times, Marshall Mathers. Thank you.
– Thank you.
– Thank you for being here, bro. I really appreciate that.
– Absolutely, absolutely.
About Hitchcock influence
– Appreciate your time, man. Let’s jump into to it, man. Let’s talk about “Music to be Murdered By.” It’s inspired by the 1958 release from Alfred Hitchcock with the same title. What made you do that?
– Well, it was actually, Dre had this sample, years ago, right, and he made a beat to it, and one day it just popped in my head. I can’t remember why, so I hit him and I was like, “Yo, whatever happened to that beat?” And he was like, “Oh, it’s still around.” But the beat was different. I just updated it a little bit with some drums and shit, right. But, it was based off that. Then I started thinking like, “Yo, that whole concept is crazy, “Music to be Murdered By.” I wonder if I can play off this whole Alfred Hitchcock thing”. And then Dre started hitting me with ideas. He was like, “Yo, you need to listen to this album that he has”. So, he sent me the link to that, and I started listening and I was like, “Yo, I could base this whole album off that.” There was actually some stuff that didn’t make it on there that I was trying to get on there, but we couldn’t really work it out with the sample claim. But I had it even more intertwined than it was, and we had to, you know, pick and choose the best pieces to put on there, just for sampling issues and shit, but…
– Fucking samples.
– Yeah, right?
– Man, I was stuck in traffic for like three hours listening to it over and over and over, and I caught something new every single time, and it’s like, “This is gonna take, you know, ’til about 2021 or some shit, before everybody really gets all of it.” And I’m talking about avid fans. You know what I’m saying? When you write on that level, you know, like you said, you say you just put it in anyway, knowing that it could slip by people’s radar.
– Yeah, I feel like there’s a certain kind of fan that will get that, and there’s a certain kind of fan that might just be the average listener who doesn’t… You know, they like hip-hop and it sounds good, something sounds good to them, right? But they might not understand exactly what we’re doing.
– How dope it is.
– But that’s what’s dope about those reaction videos, and also the people who break down the lyrics, and they show you like, “Okay, he was hitting these syllable schemes right here, every single syllable, there’s five syllables there or seven, and he was hitting these right here. Then he started a new syllable scheme, rhymed with that syllable scheme, and then came back at the end and rhymed with the first.” You know what I’m saying? And I think that that helps people really…
– To understand the genius.
– Yeah, to understand…
– Zoning off of one joint
Stopping the limo
Hop in the window
Shopping the demo at gun point.
The outer rhymes are two syllables. The inner rhymes are five syllables. That’s, in my opinion, what makes you one of the greatest of all time.
– Yeah, but that’s, to me, my opinion back to you, because when we did, – what the fuck was it, – “My House”, me and Royce joked about this shit all the time. We were like, “Fuck, Crook did me on the song. All right.” But we joked about that shit all the time cause it’s like you and him, to me, make verses that, even if you laid them first, they’re un-toppable. So, it’s like I can only hope to tie, at best. ‘Cause when you did your…
– That’s a big compliment from you, dawg.
– But, bro, when you did the,
In my house, the lights out
No utilities in the facilities
Feeling my life’s about
To wipe out
I forgot the next scheme, but utilities, like it was rhyming all that, and being able to keep it going, that’s what I think a lot of the average listeners sometimes might not understand. ‘Cause some people don’t catch the syllables. They think that we’re rhyming “my house” to “lights out,” “Utilities in the facility,” house rhymes and out rhymes, you know what I’m saying?
– Right, they’re not catching the full scheme.
– Yeah, they’re not catching the “My house, lights out,” “Life’s about to wipe out.” There’s two there, but then there’s “Utilities in the facility,” same thing. It’s like that’s the beauty to me of the craft of MCing, you know what I’m saying, it’s that.
– That’s important to you?
– Hell yeah. Yeah, and I know it’s important to you because it’s what makes rap fun, right? So, sometimes we might be in the mood to write a song that might not have a message to it. You might not really be saying anything that’s important. But it’s more about the craft, and we’re just trying to go as hard as we can go, you know? I think that that, to me, is what makes it fun. Is being able, you know when you thought of the, “Ay, bruh, I’ll go ham for dead presidents”. You feel something, right? When you think of that you’re like, “Shit”.
– Yeah, like, shit, that’s got me ill.
– Yeah, “All right, let me figure this out, let me sit down with this scheme and figure it out”. But that to me, man, is the beauty of this culture I guess.
About Young M.A. and listening to young rappers
– When did the Young M.A collab come about, I was very surprised to hear her on there, you know, I mean, she’d been doing damage all around. How’d that come about?
– Well, when she put out “OOOUUU,” I was like, “yo, she’s dope”. And I kind of started following her a little bit, and then I started watching every video she put out. And I was more so intrigued by her persona, how she just carries herself like a star, right? She’s just like, charisma, right? But she also had the bars, and I was like, “Man, she’s really got bars”. So then I just went down the wormhole of the “Eat” freestyle she did. And then she did “Flex”, and how she was just calm, murdering it on “Flex”, but she barely even raised her voice. Like, she was just calmly killing it, and I was like, “Oh my God”, so I just reached out. I was like, “Yo, I want to put on an album, man, I want to do something with her”. And hit her up, and I said, “I got this intro to the album, and then I want you to be the first thing that people hear after that”, you know what I’m saying?
– Gave her the alley-oop, crazy.
– Yeah, and she just went in.
– And she murdered it. Is that what you do, you go down the rabbit hole with different artists when you start liking them, and you go down a wormhole, kind of?
– It’s funny because this has been this way for a while, I usually spend an entire Saturday, if I’m not at work, if I’m not at the studio, I spend an entire Saturday going through everything that’s out, you know what I’m saying? Checking out everything.
– Wow, y’all hear that? On Saturdays, so y’all better bring your best shit, you never know who’s listening, you know what I’m saying? For real, man, Black Thought, I feel like you guys finally gave us what we wanted, a collab. How the hell did that happen?
– Well, I had been wanting to do something with him, and I just never found the album or the song that I felt would be good to get him on. It was worth, you know what I’m saying, like, “This might be right up his lane”. Denaun made the beat, right, so, Royce put a verse on it, and then Q Tip had the hook. And when I heard the hook, I was like, “My era, my era”, and I was like, “Me and him are kind of from the same era”, you know what I’m saying? So, this might work. So, I just hit him up through Royce, asked Royce if he could send him the track.
– Right, and y’all made magic, y’all made magic. That was a collab that hip-hop has been waiting on for a long time.
– Yo, his fucking “Funk Flex Freestyle” was just like, “Oh my God”.
– That man went in for 10 minutes.
– Fucking crazy. But again, it’s what we love about this music, right, especially as a competitive rapper, right, we’re competitive rappers. We’re in there, we do this, this is what we do. And it’s inspiring to hear that shit, but it also kind of gets you, like gives you anxiety, right? But at the same time, you kind of get pumped up about it, and be like, “Oh, shit”. Every time something new comes out like that, my mindset is like, “Yo, I gotta try to top that lyric”, you know what I’m saying?
– Right, and then you go do it.
First of all, congratulations, man. 10 Number Ones on “Billboard 200”, that’s incredible.
– Thank you.
– You know what I’m saying? I gotta put that out there, man, how does that feel, though? Did you ever imagine that you’d have 10 Number Ones?
– Ever, never in the history of my life. I could never imagine. For me, what’s crazier about it, to me is being able to meet my childhood idols. Being able to sit down with LL Cool J, right? One of my favourite rappers of all time, ever. When I made the “Relapse” album, he sat in the car, in the truck, and we drove around, and he listened to the whole album. And I was sitting there thinking to myself, “I don’t even know what to say, ‘cause I don’t want to play myself”. But before we got out of the truck, I was like, “Yo, man, I just want to say what you mean to me, man”, and I was trying to not make it come off sappy, but I was like, “Yo, man, I’m a stan of you”, you know what I’m saying? But just to sit there and be like, “All right, 15, 16-year-old Marshall, thinking that that could actually happen one day? That I’m gonna be sitting in the car, LL’s gonna be sitting around in the car with me, and he’s listening to my album”. Fuck out of here, that to me like meeting Dre, was just like, “Holy shit”.
– Is that what kind of keeps you grounded? Your love for the culture? I mean, after a huge amount of success it would be easy for you to be a different type of person. What keeps you grounded?
– I just think I am so in love with this art form and I’m so passionate about it, because it’s really the only thing that I ever was good at. Aside from basketball, I’m amazing at that. But that’s a whole other…
– You getting buckets?
About pushing the pen
– But no, you know, I just love it, I love to watch, like, you know, the YBN Cordaes comes up and you’re like, “Oh shit, he’s gonna be the next!” It’s the same shit why, when I listen to one of your songs, I don’t really want to, because I get anxiety, but I have to, I mean, not that I don’t want to, but… It’s fucking nerve-wracking, every time with you and Royce, and I think because of that we’re also in this circle together, kind of, but it’s like, y’all are the rappers, you and he are the rappers that I get anxiety being on a song with. Because I’m like, “Man, I gotta push the pen”. Rappers like TechN9ne, right? He’s so fucking proficient. I don’t know another word to say it, you know what I’m saying? Man, he crafts out every syllable. Every single one. Every fucking rhyme scheme, it’s just like you’re hearing 20 different things that rhyme with each other in succession. Yeah, and I’m sure you hate this, too, to be like, “Well, yo, you don’t understand what we’re doing”, but sometimes, some people really don’t understand what we’re doing.
– They don’t understand it, I mean, and I get it, sometimes if I listen to something that you made, I’ll be like, “Damn”, either, “Why didn’t I think of that”, or, you know, “Damn, I said something kind of like that, but I didn’t say it like that” and then it’s like, “Okay, I can’t say that now because he already just said it”. You know what I’m saying? That’s always crazy, man. It’s a new era, man. I always wanted to know, what’s your perspective on people with longevity, such as yourself, adjusting to the new era of hip-hop?
– Yeah, you know, that’s another one of the things that make it fun, too, is being able to watch Cole and Kendrick come up, and seeing how great they were right off the bat. And I mean, aside from them, I pay attention to everything that’s going on, all the new shit I try to stay up on, you know, who’s doing what, flow patterns, that kind of shit, because it’s always interesting to me. like DaBaby, I never know where his rhymes are gonna end, you know what I’m saying? And that shit is so interesting to me because he does it so well. It’s the same thing with you and Royce. It’s like, I don’t really know where this is gonna go, and when I get on a song with you or him, I know what I’m gonna get in the sense of the bar it’s gonna be, but I don’t know what I’m gonna get. What style, you know what I’m saying? I don’t know, I can’t predict our flow pattern, I can’t never predict anything, it’s the same thing getting on a track with Kendrick. I can never tell what the fuck he’s gonna do. Cause he is such a chameleon of styles, and he can fucking do pretty much anything, right, and he’s so proficient at it, he’s so good at it, and you don’t know what you’re gonna get. That, to me, is like a top-tier lyricist, because it’s like, you can get your ass kicked any day. Certain rappers get on a certain song, and it just depends on…
– Yeah, just like you, I mean, you’ve probably inspired countless stupid bars, when people knew, “Okay, I gotta get on a song with him”. I’m very surprised, every time I listen to a song that you’ve done with another artist, it’s always one of their best verses. You see what I’m saying? It’s like you inspired them and pushed their pen like that. And that’s got to be something, to walk in the room and just change the energy.
– Absolutely, absolutely, I mean, but it’s a craft that I don’t know if I’ve mastered it yet, but I’m still trying to figure shit out. As long as I’ve been in the game, I’m always trying to figure out new flow patterns, new cadences and shit, and still trying to always get it right, you know? Cause it’s like making an album, I don’t always get it right, I don’t always get every song right, I don’t always get every delivery right, you know, so it’s one of the things I’m just always trying to improve.
– Are you your toughest critic?
– Absolutely. I mean, you’re probably yours, right? Because you know that you can’t sit down with a pen and just rhyme the last word of every line.
– Like you said, that’s not fun. And it’s like, “All right, cool”, you know what I mean?
About hip-hop history, guests and kings
And your love for hip-hop is just evident, you know what I’m saying? Even the T-shirts you choose to wear sometimes, I sit back and I see a picture of you, I think you had, like, Lakim Shabazz on your T-shirt. And a lot of people don’t even know, they call themselves hip-hop heads, might not even know who that is on your shirt, is that something you do on purpose?
– It is something I do because I love it, cause it’s fun for me, like it makes me feel like a kid again, it’s like, “Oh shit, I got this album cover on!” When I think of iconic album covers, NWA’s first album cover, Audio Two’s first album cover, the colour scheme of that… How they was wearing the airbrushed shirts and shit. Having that on a shirt, it’s dope to me, but it’s also like, “Maybe if I’m doing a show, and some of the younger fans don’t know who this is, they’ll go back and look at…
– Go back and say, “Who is that on that shirt?” And get educated.
– And go back and be like, “Oh, shit”, ‘cause Lakim Shabazz was fucking nice.
– I’m raw and rare,
I walk in the square of pure righteousness
Man, and being that much of a, you know, a part of the culture, history books are gonna definitely put you as one of the greatest of all time. How do you feel about the concept of white rappers being a guest in the house of hip-hop?
– Well, I mean, that’s the funny thing, I don’t know if I’ve got a chance to say this yet, but the funny shit is, with the whole beef of a certain person, I never said I wasn’t a guest. I’m absolutely a guest. I never said I wasn’t! And I never said I was king of anything, right? I had a song called “Kings Never Die”, but it wasn’t me saying. That was one of the beats that Khalil sent me with the hook on it, that was the concept of the song, and I’m like, “I can’t say I’m the King of Hip-Hop”. So I threw Rondee MC in there, and Jam Master J, you know what I’m saying? I don’t want to be the “King of Hip-Hop”, who the fuck is the “King of Hip-Hop”? Is there a “King of Hip-Hop”? People would say, just because you sell the most records doesn’t mean you’re the best. Just because you can rap 40 million syllables doesn’t mean you’re the best. I care more about rhyming the syllables. I care more about the craft than any of the other shit.
– And that shows, you know what I’m saying? And it goes back to those who know it, you know what I mean? If you know, you know, and I don’t get it sometimes, you know what I mean, I watch these rap media so-called critics and some music journalists and so many of your bars and your messages goes over their heads, like, even with the content conversation, I mean, you’ve been having content since day one, you got songs that prove it, you know what I mean?
– Sometimes I’m like, “What is content? What are you talking about? What do you want me to talk about?” Think about the first time you hear Rakim, right? So when people make these lists, and he’s always on the list, but he’s also always on my list, because to me, greatness is not only how well you do something, but if you were the first to do it. Rakim was the first person that I heard that started using inside rhyme schemes, and coming back at the end and hitting it, you know what I’m saying? So, he did something that hadn’t even been thought of yet. He single-handedly pushed the genre forward to be more complex, lyrically. And then birthed fucking Kane and G-Rap, right? And, man, those two will always be on my list, too, because Kane is doing
Confused, and lose, abused and bruised,
The crews who choose to use my name wrong will pay dues
Man, come on, nobody was doing that! That was every single fucking word he said rhymed, and he just made a sentence with it. Every person who’s a fan of hip-hop might feel like hip-hop is about something different, right? “It ain’t about lyrics, it’s about how good your flow, and your cadence”, right? Or it’s just about, “The beat is dope” and just having a message over it. That could be your opinion of what hip-hop was about. My opinion is hip-hop is about lyricism and the greats who we put up on the pedestal. That’s what they were about, and that was the beauty of us being able to learn how to do it, and learn from them, right?
– Yeah, do you ever agree with any of the top 50 lists that circulate on the internet, have you seen one that you was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s accurate”.
– I’ve seen a couple of them where I feel like, “Okay, that’s kind of accurate”. I’ll never want to come off as preachy, or be like, you, know, “people don’t understand what we do, we’re so much smarter than you”, no, it’s not about that, but we do the craft, and we do rap at a certain level, like, “Game recognises game”, right? You can appreciate Jordan, because Jordan was like a spectacle to see, right? It was just like, “Holy shit”. But, I don’t even know half the shit he was doing.
– Just like, if I hire somebody to fix my car, I’m not gonna hire a painter, I’m gonna hire a mechanic. A mechanic knows what he’s doing under the hood. You know what I’m saying? And I can’t explain what he’s doing.
– And you can’t be like, “Yo, that’s the best mechanic I’ve ever seen”. I saw, what is it called, “My Expert Opinion” with Math Hoffa, right? And it was the episode where they were talking about the verse that I did on the Fat Joe thing. And I was like, “These are the guys who, if I was coming up as a rapper or just a fan of rap or whatever, I would want to hear from them, because they do this, too”. You know what I’m saying? So, it’s like, “Game recognises game”. Like, I don’t know if this guy’s the best mechanic in the fucking world, I don’t, you know what I’m saying? It’s not my thing, but someone who is a mechanic might be like, “Yo, this guy, he’s the fucking GOAT of changing your muffler”, you know what I’m saying?
– And then we come and argue with that guy, you know, “He’s not the GOAT”, and I’m not a fucking mechanic.
– But then again, it’s like, you don’t wanna sound too preachy and be like, “We’re so much smarter than you, you don’t understand what we’re doing”. It’s not about that, but at some point, it’s just like, I can’t take your list seriously if they don’t have you on it, if they don’t have Royce on it, I can’t take it serious. I can’t take it serious, because it’s like, you don’t really know what you’re talking about. So I can’t even get mad at you, I can’t get mad at you. I think that a lot of times, when people make these lists, they’re mistaking the greatest rappers for their favourite rappers. So what they mean to say is, “These are my favourite rappers, these are my personal favourites”. Jay, Nas, they’re always gonna be on that list, right?
– Right, you’re always gonna be on there.
– On some people’s, but…
– Dawg, I’ve never seen a list without you on it. You might not be where you deserve to be. You know what I’m saying?
– That’s, in my opinion, that’s how I feel when people don’t put you and Royce there, because the longevity, how good you guys have consistently been, to be able to keep it up to this level, you know what I’m saying? We’re not young ones in this game. So it’s like, we’ve put our time in, but still, even to this day, when I hear a new song by you or a new rhyme scheme, I feel like, “He’s still figuring this out”. In other words, you’re trying to figure out a way to make this verse better than anything you just did prior to it. That’s how I feel when I listen to you, I’m like, “Oh, he’s still fucking with different flow patterns. And cares about it”. And the pockets!.. I don’t ever know where your rhyme’s gonna fall at. And I don’t know how many syllables you’re gonna fucking hit, but that’s the other thing, is when people are like, “Well, I don’t care about the syllables and all that shit”, yo, you need to, because that’s the craft of doing it. I think that people are just sometimes mistaking best emcees for their favourite rappers.
– Speaking of favourite rappers, Treach.
– Treach? Treach, I don’t see on a lot of lists, either. And that shit is infuriating to me, because I think that, again, when you’re talking about, like, Rakim had did something that’d never been done, and Kane did something, then G Rap did something that’d never been done. I think what happened with Treach, and this is just in my circle of friends that we talk about shit, one of the common things said is, “Well, he did ‘O.P.P.’ and he did ‘Hip Hop Hooray’”. But he was still rhyming his ass off on those songs, but he also did something to me, in my opinion. There was a time period, probably between ’91 and about ’95 where damn near every rapper in the game was following him and trying to do what he was doing. Dressing like him, you know what I’m saying? The whole shit, moving like him. And he was getting on fucking songs and smoking everybody, and it was like, “Yo!” When I heard “Yoke the Joke”, and my fucking heart sank. My heart sank, because I was like, “I’m never gonna be this good. I might as well quit”, I didn’t write a rhyme for the entire summer, I said this on the Ice T documentary. But this is real shit, I didn’t write for an entire summer, and Proof was like, “Yo, man, he’s good, but you gotta keep”. And I was just like, “But I’ll never be that good”. By the time it got to “Wickedest Man Alive” I was like, “I quit. I don’t want to do this anymore”.
– You got a favourite Treach verse?
– I got a lot of favourite Treach verses. When I heard “Yoke the Joker”, when he was like,
All fuzzy, dirty, dizzy, does he
Get the things he needs? Remember how blistery?
You ain’t ready for the Freddy of rap
You can’t kill me, I step into your dreams, you feel me
Slicing your life away, just like my mic today
I eat you the psycho way, I’m rippin’ shit right away…
Man, he was kicking, yo! There are some in this genre that have not even caught up to that. All this time has passed, and those verses are so timeless to me.
You got beef with what we do? Talk to the bunny, sonny,
He’s the man, Bugs the thug with the money, funny
That you should mention. Ask my family, they’re covered
Goes out to my cousins and my sisters and my Warner Brothers
Birds of a feather flock a fella be together
No matter what your whatever endeavor, find us better
You, me, he, she, them, him, those, or others
Let’s get two ducks in one pluck, initiate the trouble.
For those who disagree, or maybe feel the need to front it
Show me your whole entire crew, two shoes and I’m gonna run it
Do you want it maybe…
Yo, I was just like, “God damn!” No one had did that yet. What he did was, he did wordplay, he did compound syllables, multi-syllable rhyming, and he did it in different styles. Go back and listen to that first album, he never did the same style twice. I loved his image, I loved what he was about. He looked cool and you believed him. He looked the part, he acted the part, he was the part, right? So that’s why I think a lot of rappers just kind of started going, and I did. Like with my writing and shit, by the time the second album came out, I sounded just like him. I sounded just like Treach. I sounded like Cool G Rap, there are so many eras that I sounded like other rappers, you know what I’m saying? But it’s what we do when we’re kids, right?
– What do you think about Royce as a producer? Is it weird?
– It’s really fucking weird. I told him years ago, years ago when we first met, I said, yo, you should… ‘Cause the way he was picking his beats and his ear for them!.. I was like, “Yo, why don’t you just make beats?” ‘Cause I first started making beats and learned how to do it, you can control what you make. So it’s like. Making the song, “Lose Yourself” and sitting there from the beginning down to the end of the completed song, make this trajectory go wherever you want it to go… Right? Both of us were still focused on rap but I think he would rather have pushed his time into the pen. But kept telling him even years later, like, “Yo, man, I’m telling you, you’d be good at it”. And he started doing the shit and then I didn’t hear from him for a couple of months, and then he started hitting me off with beats and I was like, “yo, this shit is crazy!” “You Gon’ Learn” one?
– Yeah, this shit was hard.
– Man, I was like, “What the fuck? Like, man, how did you get this good this quick?”
– Yeah, same with me, man. I went over there, he like, “I’m making beats now, Crook”. I said: “For real?”. He started making a beat, I was like, “Man, this shit kinda dope”. I went outside to smoke a cigar and I started thinking a 16 bar rap, and I said: “I’m thinking of a rap to a Royce beat”. And I went back and I’m like, “Yo, I’m doing a new album with my little brothers Family Business, do you wanna produce the whole thing?” And he was like, “You think I’m ready for something like that?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I think you’re ready, let’s get it”. That’s when we came over and played you the stuff over there.
Man, you just said, “Lose yourself”… I went down a wormhole myself, looking at your producer credits. And I talk to hip-hop fans every single day on Twitter. You know, that’s one of the things I do, I engage with them, I ask them questions, rap questions. Do you feel like, cause I don’t, so, do you feel like your name is mentioned enough in the producers’ conversation?
– I don’t know. No, I don’t. No, I’m kidding, I mean, I don’t know, I love to make beats, right, and over the years, I had learned how to produce. And probably made some of my biggest songs. And was just doing what felt right, you know what I’m saying? It’s fun for me to make beats, but it’s not as fun as rap is, you know what I’m saying? But yeah, I don’t know.
– I mean because people are like, “Yo, rappers who make beats, top five”. And I’m like, “Yo, you gotta put in Eminem”, you know what I’m saying? And then some of them don’t even realize how many songs that you have produced, you know what I mean, and that they know and love the song, they just didn’t know that you produced it. That’s crazy to me, you know what I’m saying? I don’t even understand how that even happens, you know what I mean, I think you rap so well that it kind of just sucks all the oxygen out of the conversation.
– It’s interesting, like the first album, you know, I would sit in there with the Bass Brothers, and Jeff Bass played instruments, right? He played the guitar, he played the bass, he played the keyboards and all that shit. I knew this music better than they did, as far as what it should sound like, you know what I’m saying? So, I would just sit in there on the drum machine and I had to have somebody show me how to work it, you know, keep the metronome going and shit, and what started coming out of those sessions, and sometimes I’ll be like, “Yo, okay, what was that chord? Okay, what if you tried that, now go up with it”, right? And then I’d hum because I don’t know how to play instruments. So I would just hum a lot of shit, you know? And that’s how I started making
the beats, and Dre was like, “Yo, you’re producing, that’s producing”. And I was like, “It is?? Okay, cool”. Yeah, it’s funny, like, I was thinking the other
day, “Cleanin’ out my closet”, that beat was actually a beat I was making for Bizarre. Yeah, and then I don’t remember what happened, but I ended up taking the beat, cause sometimes, if someone’s there as I’m making the beat, and they start wanting to write to it, I usually give it to them, and I don’t remember what happened with that, but…
– And it just became the stadium mover. That’s one of my favourite songs to watch you perform.
– That’s the other thing, too, I’m not a singer, so I remember some of my early, early shit was really rough, like, was really rough. But it was like, a lot of times, from coming up in Detroit, Proof had the connects, right? So Proof used to know J Dilla, Proof used to know everybody who was anybody, right? So, and I don’t know if you remember when rap was going through a phase, well, I mean, it still does it, but there was kind of a phase in the mid, late nineties where if you could get a chick to sing on your song, you know what I’m saying? An actual singer chick, and Proof would come over with new music and man, Dilla’s making the beats, and he’s got chicks all over his hooks and shit, and I’m like, “What the fuck, man?” So, I would start thinking of hooks like that, you know what I’m saying, and being like, “Well, someone else could sing this, and I’ll just lay it for right now”.
– And then it ended up becoming a thing where I was just like, “Fuck it, I’ll just leave it”, you know.
About “Godzilla” and Juice WRLD
– “Godzilla”, man, I got to tell you. That’s one of my favourites right now, you know what I’m saying? My favourites always change when I listen to albums. Right now, I’m fucking with “Godzilla” heavy, every day, all day, you know what I’m saying? That shit is crazy, I mean, the cadences and all that, absolute murder. The beat, who did that beat?
– That shit is crazy, man, RIP to Juice WRLD, that kid was amazing, you know, on that joint. Favourites change.
– Yeah, shout out to Juice, too, man. That kid was so talented, man. His freestyle he did on Westwood where he rapped for an hour, what the fuck. And I mean, he might have been mixing a little bit of written in there, but the way he was free, that’s the shit that we used to try to do at the Hip-Hop Shop, was try to work on our freestyles, right, but to be able to slip in and out of written when you need to. If you’ve got a certain punchline you want to get to to take out this dude, right? So, to be so young, he mastered that so fucking quickly. It’s really sad, man, his potential was so off the charts.
– Very, I tweeted one time, you know, “I like this Juice WRLD kid”, and you know, I got some real hardcore boom-back type hip-hop lyricist fans that follow me, too, and they’re like, “Juice WRLD, he uses autotune”, I’m like, “Yo”. I dropped the link to that Westwood freestyle, like, “Yo, don’t even talk to me, just watch this”. He definitely had it, man. It’s crazy that some of these kids out here, I think they’re inspired by Jay, you know what I’m saying? And they want to really get their pen moving.
About “Darkness” and gun control
– Yeah, I was gonna ask you, do you have a favourite? You have any favourites on the new joint?
– On my album?
– Yeah, with your joint.
– Every single one. No, I mean, you know, it’s funny when you’re making an album and sometimes you got ideas already, sometimes you like “I don’t feel like having a message in this one”, you know what I’m saying? I just want to go as hard, lyrically, as I can, you know, and then sometimes, you know, I’ll get in a certain mood and be like, “Okay”, if there’s something that I’m passionate about, like, this is making me either angry or excited or whatever it is, I might get the idea to do a song about it. Like the “Darkness” song, when I want to say something, when I feel like I really have something to say, I’m gonna do it.
– The “Darkness” joint, did you ever feel like you might get some kind of backlash from all this gun politics, you know, the right side saying, “They want to take your guns”, the left side saying, “We need more gun control”, did you feel like you would get any backlash from creating that type of song?
– I mean, I figured I would get some, but, it’s kind of like, I more so care about what I believe in. And whoever else gets fucking pissed off, I don’t give a fuck, this is my view on it, and this is my take, it might not be your take, so what about the person who is stockpiling his house with 150 fucking guns, right? Whatever war they’re waiting for, I don’t know what war you’re waiting for that you need that kind of arsenal. I think there’s also something to be said, I know there’s avid gun collectors and shit like that, but there’s something to be said about somebody who’s buying that many fucking guns. I just don’t have a record of it, for, you know, I’m not on record as having a, you know. Where I’m able to get flagged. So it’s like the whole message of that song was saying what about the person that hasn’t, you know what I’m saying? There’s a first time for everything.
– This is gonna be the first time they flip out and they have an arsenal to do it with. What about that guy? There’s no stopping that guy.
– Right, and that’s when it’s like, “Okay, when you start calling for background checks and shit like that instead of the actual problem, you know, we gotta do something with the gun laws. People start to get like, “No, you can’t take our guns, you can’t take our guns”. I’m not saying that.
About understanding rap
– So when you talk about things like that, I would say that that’s content.
– I probably would say that.
– But your critics will say that you just rap about rapping.
– I just put words together that just rhyme. That’s what I do. I competitive rap. And sometimes, I just want to have fun with it, sometimes I just want to make a song that might not be about shit, but for those who can respect how hard I pushed the pen, right? You know, you get people, “So what, you can say that many words that fast, you’re not saying anything”, what do you want me to say?
– Yeah, it takes a skill level to do that. And I feel like they’re not respecting that part of the game, you know what I’m saying? It takes a phenomenal skill level to rap at the speeds that you rap at, syllables within those, you know what I’m saying, it’s not like you’re like, “Then I’m over here then I’m over there, then I’m over here then I’m over there”, you know, some people fool people, you know what I mean? You actually are putting fucking syllables, punchlines, metaphors within that cadence. I just think, a lot of times, when a rapper says, “He’s just rapping about rapping” or “He’s too rappity-rap”, it usually comes from a rapper who can’t rap that well.
– A lot of people diss what they can’t do. So it’s like if I can’t do that, I’m gonna just…
– I’m gonna shit on it.
– Yeah, I’m gonna shit on it, and make it like it ain’t that good anyways. And then…
– And then people buy that narrative.
– Yeah, yep, and then, you know, maybe it makes the person feel good with whatever is going on inside them. I saw some dude, I don’t remember where I even seen this, what show it was on, what site it was on or whatever, some dude was trying to trash J Cole about “Middle Child” and was saying, “It just fell off at the end”, and I’m like, “What the fuck are you talking about?” I can’t take you serious, you critique that? And then it’s like, sometimes you’ll be like, “Yo, but you listen to that and then you say this is trash?” I can’t respect your opinion, I can’t.
– Yeah, they’re probably the ones responsible for these top 50 lists that go around, people like that.
– Yeah, I mean, and I know it’s your opinion, but your opinion’s wrong.
– For sure, 100. Speaking of top lists, dawg, is your top nine that you named on “Till I Collapse” still the same?
– Yes and no. Yes, because, well, what’s happened since then is like 20 years of rapping. So it’s like, as rap evolves, you gotta put Cole and Kendrick on that list, man, and Joiner, because those are guys who really care about the craft, and if you want to know why that sounds so good to you, and you’re not really sure, then we’re telling you that these people are so good at what they do. When we’re telling you that, it’s coming from somewhere where we know what it takes to put that into the print.
– Absolutely. It’s coming from a place of experience, we know what it takes, basically, like you just said.
– The “why didn’t I think of that?” Every time, you know what I’m saying? The rapper that makes you go, “Fuck!”
– Yeah, and it was right there. Sometimes it could be an easy line, and you’re like, “That line, it seems easy to think of, but it wasn’t”.And it was like, “Why the fuck, this is what I do for a living, how come I missed that fucking line?” I hear that shit a lot.
– Yo, you know what I wanna mention, too, I just thought about this. When I got shit, this is funny, pun intended, when I got shit for the “your booty is heavy duty like diarrhoea”? I got a lot of shit for that line. Pun intended. But it’s like, “Man, that shit’s trash, it’s trash”. I’m just being stupid, like sometimes, you ever think of a punchline that’s like, it’s just supposed to be stupid. It’s not supposed to be hard and all that. It’s not supposed to make you go, “SHIT, YOUR BOOTY IS HEAVY DUTY!!!” It’s a fucking stupid line, and sometimes I throw those in there just to get a reaction out of people, to get a laugh. It ain’t that serious. But it’s like, “Man, he sucks, cause he said…”
– Yeah, they pick out one thing, and that just lets you know how good you are because they’ll go through, okay, you just said fucking a hundred dope ass fucking lines, and then they’ll pick one and say, “But hey, he said this right here”, and you just know that that person is a hater.
– I never was like, play a couple of lines and be like, “I don’t like that, I don’t like what they said right there”, and then next line would go by, “I like that, though, that’s dope”. I never hated a song because of one bar, you know what I’m saying?
– Never, because now, if I go back and listen to all the classic music that I loved growing up, I’m sure I could find that bar, you know what I’m saying? But that wasn’t the point. It’s just crazy now that we have the internet and all that shit, everybody has an opinion.
– Well, everybody’s an expert, that’s the thing that it’s like, you know.
About fans and answering their questions
– Yeah, that’s why we listen to the fans, man, the fans get you. Your fans, listen, dawg. I engage with your fans every single day. You know what I’m saying, they hit me every day.
– Sorry about that.
– No, it’s all good, man, some of them leave me paragraphs in the DM, like, “Hey man, if you see Marshall, can you tell him…”, you know, so I’m just like, you know, “Hey man”, whatever. And they’re really passionate about supporting you. I think any artist would want to have fans like you have.
– I’m very grateful for that, absolutely.
– Do you ever read any of their comments online that they leave?
– Well, I went through a phase of that, for sure.
– You did?
– Yeah, and then I had to kind of stop and put it all in perspective and be like, “Listen, man”. You know, just reading comments, period. It just makes it like, “Okay, you realize you’re not gonna please everybody”. You just can’t.
– Right, can’t do it.
– You know what I’m saying, you do this over here, and someone doesn’t like it and they want you to do the opposite, then you do the opposite and you please that person, or you don’t, then this person hates it.
– It’s very tough, but no, I agree with that. It’s kind of like, you know, quarterbacks reading the Sports column after games.
– Monday morning quarterback?
– Yeah, exactly, so. But like I said, man, these fans that you have that hit me every single day, they asked me if I could ask you a couple questions. What’s your favourite food? Taco Bandino?
– Beets? So you got good-ass blood pressure. Oh, you were talking about this kind of beats? I’m like “Damn, your blood pressure is excellent around this motherfucker”. Beats, no.
– I don’t know, I don’t know what my favourite food is, I don’t really have a favourite food.
– Okay, let’s see, favourite TV series? Right now, currently.
– Yeah, you like it?
– Yeah, I watch “Power”, “Power” is ill.
– You put me up on “Walking Dead”. I was watching “Boardwalk Empire” all the time,
and we were at the Lamb one time, and you were like, “Yo, you gotta check out ‘Walking Dead'” and you said it was some zombie shit. I was like, “I don’t know if I could do the zombie shit”,
and you was like, “No, you gotta watch it”, then I got fucking hooked on that shit. That shit was a great fucking series right there.
– “The Wire”, I mean, I’ve said that many times, but man, that’s like, cream of the crop. Like those shows that like, I don’t know, there’ll never be another one of those. Like those kind, like “Breaking Bad”, incredible.
– Yeah man, “Breaking Bad” was the shit.
– “Power” is my shit, though, now, for sure.
– Shout out to Fifty!
– Yeah, man.
– Do you have any pets, they want to know that.
– Nope, I do not.
– No pets. Are you happy, that’s the most, number one asked question that I got on Twitter is, “Can you please ask him if he’s happy?”
– I’m never happy.
– Never? Are you happy when you’re angry? You said something like that.
– I’m happy when I’m angry, that’s for sure.
– So, when he gets angry, he’ll be happy, so you guys get that.
– That’s why I bitch so much. I try to stay happy.
About ranking rappers and Redman
Now, we was talking about, like, I want to mention this, too, man, cause I’m sitting here like, we was talking about the list, and has it changed. I feel like all the rappers that I said on that list will never change. I don’t know about the order, I don’t even know if I should have put it in the order like that, you know what I’m saying? But sometimes you do things, and it fits in the rhyme scheme. Like we was talking about people who push the boundaries. Like Redman to me. You know when it seems like it was a time in hip-hop where, and this was, to me, was like the late eighties to early nineties where every time a rapper came out with a new album, they were the best rapper for a minute. Like Boogie Down Productions, when, by all means necessary, love “Criminal Minded”. But, by all means necessary, it was like the pinnacle of rap at that point in time was like, “What the fuck?” And Redman came out, so good, right? And then, when Nas dropped, right? Nomadic, it was like, “This is as good as it gets. You can’t get any better”. That was incredible, and then Biggie, and then, to me, Redman. When he made “Muddy Waters”, I was like, “Yo”. That was when he, in my opinion, just pulled ahead of everybody. He just shot ahead. Like, man, the way he was fucking…
– Yeah, he absolutely smashed that. Even when I first heard him on, when I first heard him do The Headbangers verse, I was like, “This dude right here is fucking fire, who is this guy?”
– Yeah, “Whut? Thee Album” is so classic to me. So classic to me. Because not only was he rapping so good, but it was like his beats and everything, he was making good songs, right? Like that first album, he just came out the gate making great songs, and again, the image, everything, it was cool to be Redman, to want to be Redman. It was like, Redman is just fucking cool.
– Yeah, Redman was the shit.
– And still is, still is, he can still go.
– And that’s what I like, I love it when guys from that era still just fucking, they just never lose it.
– Yeah, cause you can tell he loves it.
– And that’s what it takes, the love.
About Kobe Bryant and work ethic
– Yo, let me ask you, man, were you ever a fan of Kobe?
– Absolutely, I mean, who wasn’t? I don’t know how you could not be. I can’t even, it makes me sick, man. It makes me really sick to my stomach to even try to grasp what happened.
– Yeah, me too, man.
– Nine people, man.
– Nine people, nine people, that really shook the world, you know what I’m saying, and I ask you that, too, because I feel like great people have a lot in common. I feel like you have, you know, what he had, that killer instinct, when you go in the booth. That work ethic. If he’s showing up two hours before everybody else, working on his shot, I’ve seen you in the studio, you know, working on a hook, and you know, getting it down to the fucking last fucking molecule in that bitch. Just making sure that that shit is right, man, your work ethic is incredible. Is that something that you’ve developed over the years, or is that something, like hanging around, working with Dr. Dre, when did you develop this work ethic that’s just, like, robotic almost?
– I mean, that was before I even got signed, me and Denaun knew, me and him were so close, got really close really quick. Just because of the things that we had in common and everything, so we kind of just felt like, “We don’t have nothing”. It was a do or die situation because there was nothing else I knew how to do, so it was like, we used to go to this place called “Mo Masters,” we’d just go to “Mo Masters Studio”, and it would be like ten dollars an hour, something like that, and so we’d have an hour. Basically, we made sure we had the beat, I had the lyrics written, and I already knew the song by heart, go in there. Once I got a chance to, once Dre gave me that shot, I was like, “I can’t, there’s no turning back, I can’t”. All I needed was that, and yeah, man. And plus I watched Dre do it. That dude, still to this day, lives in the studio. Because he loves it. That’s why we do it, cause we love it.
– I’d like to, before I close, I’d like you to give some sort of jam, get the guest to give some sort of jam to, like, an up and coming artist that’s trying to make it. You just described a picture of you having to memorise your raps before you go to the studio, looking at the clock on the wall and shit, “I only have so much time in there, I gotta get it all out”. I mean, it’s a real grind, and I think sometimes, the up and coming artists look at people’s results, and they don’t understand that…
– The work that it took to get there.
– Yeah, what would you say, man, to inspire some young artist? What do they need to do in your opinion?
– Well, I mean, times are different, right? You can make a fucking studio quality album on your laptop, basically. So based off that, what I would say to the up and coming, any new up and coming rapper, I would say that it is hard to get it, and it’s even harder to maintain. As hard as I worked back then, you know, when you’ve made thousands of songs, and you’re like, “What the fuck am I gonna rap about that I haven’t already?” When you start out with a blank canvas, and then you’ve painted everywhere on that bitch. So, it’s one of the things that, I do it because I love it, so I put in the overtime, it doesn’t bother me. It’s fun for me to do that. So I would say that, if this is something you’re passionate about, just give it everything, give it everything. You have nothing else. If this is what you want, it’s gotta be what you want more than anything else in this world. Whatever it is.
– I’d like to thank you, man, for giving me some of your time, a lot of your time, actually, man.
– Absolutely, but yo, I watch “Crook’s Corner”, I watch it all the time, it’s fucking dope to me because a rapper of your calibre, to do something like this, it’s such a good concept, because you’re an expert in this field.
– I appreciate that, man.
– And I think that everyone needs to know that who doesn’t already.
– I appreciate that bro, I appreciate it really.
– And as hard are you go with the pen, man, like, fuck, I’m telling you, this is top notch. Top tier lyricist, you, Royce, man, I feel like it’s great that I know you guys. Because it’s kept me, over the years, to push my pen and to keep going.
– Likewise, my brother. “Music to Be Murdered By” out now, everybody go get it, three or four times, stream the fuck out that bitch, you know what I mean? And I’m on track 19. Get you a rap media host that can do both. Marshall Mathers in this motherfucker. Thank you, man.
Watch the full interview below: