Speaks His Mind
EMINEM HAS A ROUGH TIME HERE IN THE BAY AREA
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 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
Eminem SPEAKS HIS MIND
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.