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Eminem Speaks His Mind


Rap superstar Eminem swung through the SF bay Area this past weekend on a promotional tour and wound up running into a few problems. The first occurred on Sunday morning during his interview at college radio station KALX 90.7 FM in Berkeley. According to Eminem he had a run in with long time dj Sista Tamu. He claims that not only had a bad attitude and was she extremely rude and disrespectful to him, but she also took his hit record 'My Name Is Slim Shady' and cracked it in half on the air. 'It was like she was on a mission to come for me', he noted in a later interview. He said that she appeared bent on trying to embarrass him on the air by telling him she did not like his rhyme style and music. 'If that was the case why did she agree to interview me?' Eminem wondered. He also noted that he himself tried to be professional by holding back and not going off the sista.

Sista Tamu offered up her side of the story. She explained that when she first met Eminem that she went over a few ground rules with him including that she tries to keep her show 'clean' of the large number of families and kids listening on Sunday morning. She went to explain that she had heard a few of his freestyles in particular one in which he rapped about killing his baby's mother. It was for that reason Tamu was not really fond of Eminem. Tamu who is a community activist, admitted that she prefers hip hop that brings a socially uplifting message. However, she felt that because Eminem was so popular that it was important to allow him access to her listeners. 'I'm not really a big fan of your style of rap, but a lot of our listeners are so welcome to the show', she told him. She also told him that if he decides to freestyle or anything like that to keep that in mind and respect the ground rules she had set. According to her, Eminem agreed.

During the interview she and Em exchanged barbs with each other. While Eminem felt she was trying to be rude. Tamu felt it was all in jest. She said that Em's whole character was to be witty and sarcastic and she was having fun with him by trying to match wits. Eminem felt she was trying to pull the 'race card' by talking about him having blonde hair and being white.

Tamu then took a number of calls including one from a woman who noted that she appreciated Em's sarcastic and somewhat sadistic wit, but cautioned him not to leave young impressionable listeners with the wrong message. Eminem admitted that his album was very different then the sanitized version they were playing on MTV and commercial radio. 'A lot of parents are going to be upset and take that album right back to the store because there's nothing nice or clean about it', he noted. The next caller challenged Eminem to do a freestyle. So [Mr Slim Shady agreed]. What set Sista Tamu off, was that after cautioning Eminem about her audience, he then flipped a verse which started off with him slapping a pregnant woman and then slapping another 'bitch'. Tamu immediately stopped him and ended the interview. 'I ain't having that disrespect on my show' she explained. At that point she bid him goodbye and as Slim Shady left the station Tamu went on the air and said because he had disrespected the ground rules and her audience by doing a rap about 'slapping bitches', he would never be invited back and at that point she cracked his record on the air. needless to say it quite eventful and left Slim Shady a bit peeved.

If that wasn't enough while visiting record stores across the Bay in San Francisco's infamous Haight Ashbury district which is known for it's hippies, punk rockers and other colorful individuals, some kid steps to Eminem and in a threatening manner asserts that 'this is his block' and Eminem better leave. At first Em thought he was joking but soon realizes the kid is serious.. This is his block and he has no intention of letting Eminem walk by. When Eminem moved to walk around him the kid reached for what everyone thought was a weapon. The next thing you know Mr Shady lit up on homeboy with a barrage to the head. I guess he let his Detroit upbringing come out as folks had to pull Eminem off the kid who was left literally sprawled out on the ground. By the time I caught up with Eminem he was bit spent..


During our interview Eminem dispelled a lot of negative perceptions I had of him. Initially I thought he was gonna be some arrogant kid who was using some sort of gimmick to get over in hip hop. We chopped it up for more then an hour and he came across as someone who's funny and his really into hip hop. As he noted that while he's enjoying his current success, he wanted to make it clear he is by no means a bubble gum rapper and that a lot of fans are gonna be quite shocked when they get his new album. 'My lyrics are sick and there's nothing nice about them' he explained. When asked why he changed the lyrics to his current single 'My Name Is Slim Shady', he explained that his record company wanted something for the radio so that caused him to tone things down. But he ran into another snafu when he attempted to clear the sample he used as his rhythm track. The owner of the song was a gentleman who now lives in Africa and his a gay activist. He took great offense to several of Shady's lyrics where he talk about raping a lesbian among a few other things. He was not going to grant a sample clearance unless certain verses were taken out of the song. Shady said he was upset but wound up complying.

I asked him about the current Detroit underground scene and if knew some the old schoolers like Kid Rock, Mystro and Kaos, Awesome Dre among others. He explained that Detroit has an up and coming scene that's real small and close knit. It isn't always supported. He never kicked it with Awesome Dre from back in the days. He like Mystro and Kaos and he looked up to Kid Rock who made himself known by getting a major record deal and dropping a cut called Yodeling In The Valley'. He also spoke about a rival emcee named Cage who had been going around dissing Slim Shady. 'Every time I've showed up to battle him he's never been around', at this point in time I don't want to give him any more attention', he explained. He concluded by talking about a partner of his named Royce who just got signed to Tommy Boy Records.

On the question of race, Eminem explained that he was tired of it. 'All my life I've been dealing with my race because of where I grew up [Detroit] and being in the rap game' he noted. 'I'm at a boiling point...Anybody who pulls the race card is getting it right back in their face' he said. He emphasized that it's all about the music and while image has a lot to do with things, he feels that people are really into what he's saying. He spoke on how a lot of journalist insist on focusing on the whole racial aspect of him being in the game.

I challenged Eminem and told him how his record reps were calling up djs and marketing him as a 'dope whiteboy' who can rap. He felt that was foul and whoever did that should be fired. He hoped that approach was limited to a few individuals who took it upon themselves to do that..and that it was not what he wants to happen.'. He didn't like the fact that people were seeing him as getting over because he was white.. 'You can't control who likes you' he explained. 'If I got Backstreet Boy fans what am I supposed to do? Turn them away?'. Eminem added. 'Whoever likes my stuff, likes my stuff but just know Slim Shady is hip hop, I grew up on hip hop, it's the music I love and it's the music I respect. I respect the culture...that's me'.

I asked him about Vanilla Ice and Eminem explained that he felt Vanilla Ice has nothing against the Ice Man but he ruined it for white emcees all over. He gave people the wrong impressions of white emcees because he lied and was fake. 'No one can help their color and no one can help where they grew up.. that's your parents doing.. If you grew up in the suburbs be proud and don't pretend you came from somewhere else'.

On battling, Eminem noted 'I'll battle anybody who calls me out and people better know that'. He explained that he doesn't take battling as serious as he once did, but it's all done in fun. He also noted that he doesn't wanna be labeled as a battle emcee because it essentially limits people's perceptions of you. Eminem sees himself as someone who is an all round emcee meaning he can write songs and flip different styles.

I asked him about his thoughts on collaborations with other artists. I asked him jokingly if he wanted to do a song with Lauryn Hill, KRS-One or Public Enemy. I was surprised how he got real serious when I mentioned Lauryn's name, 'The first word you said is a dirty word to me', when I asked if he meant Lauryn and I asked why.. 'I heard a lot of stuff about her and how she is toward white people and I heard she's racist. I can't prove it, but I heard a lot of stuff and there's a lot of controversy.. so if she's like that I don't wanna get down like that.. I don't believe in all that.. That's her business if she doesn't like white people..everybody has their preferences..'. At the time of the interview, I didn't know.. but I've since heard the stories surrounding Lauryn hating white folks were nasty rumors that had been circulating. Eminem concluded that he's not really a collaboration type emcee. He wants people to enjoy Slim Shady and he doesn't want to play himself out by having folks get sick of him.







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