Eminem Reflects on Career and Battling Drug Addiction: ‘I Don't Know How the F*ck I'm Still Here’

·4 min read
Image via Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Image via Cooper Neill/Getty Images

In an extensive piece for XXL Magazine, Eminem has offered a look back on his place in hip-hop and opened up about his struggles with drug addiction.

Written by Em himself, he reflected on how he went from a broke 24-year-old with a baby to an overnight success thanks to The Slim Shady LP. “That was a fun album to make, but it’s also where everything suddenly changed,” said Em, who noted that drugs became “a part of the way I was living my life once I got signed.”

Early in his career, he said him and some friends frequently went to Tijuana, Mexico to purchase drugs such as Vicodin. "I don't know how many times we did it, but it was so easy to go back and forth to do it," he said. The last time he went to Tijuana to pick up, they witnessed the vehicle in front of them getting pulled over and searched. "We were scared shitless, but we got through," he continued. "And when I say we had the motherlode. Our pants were frickin' stuffed with pills. I don't know how many we had."

By the time the money started coming in, he started to indulge more but he reiterated that his addiction didn’t start until he “got famous.” When he and Dr. Dre signed 50 Cent in 2002, however, is when his addiction started to get particularly bad. "I'm coming off The Marshall Mathers LP and going into Encore when my addiction started to get bad," he recalled. "I was taking Vicodin, Valium and alcohol. I kinda fell off the map a little bit and didn't explain why I went away. I remember things started getting really, really bad when me, 50 and G-Unit did BET's 106 & Park. ... That's when the wheels started coming off. One of the hosts was talking to me and I could not understand a word she was saying. 50 had to cover for me and answer every question.”

The “heaviest” period of drug addiction spanned five years of his life, and he hit a rough patch after his D12 bandmate Proof died. "I had fuckin' 10 drug dealers at one time that I'm getting my shit from. Seventy-five to 80 Valiums a night, which is a lot," he added. "I don't know how the fuck I'm still here. I was numbing myself."

While working on Encore, he found himself in a “goofy mood” because of the heavy drug usage, which led to “silly songs” such as, he said, “Ass Like That.” When the record dropped, Em said that the reaction was “definitely a wake-up call, a slap in the face, a sobering moment.” While he was proud of songs such as “Like Toy Soldiers,” he ultimately knew it wasn’t on the same level of quality as The Eminem Show.

Shifting his attention to where he sees himself in the world of hip-hop these days, he said he simply strives to “always try to be the best rapper.” “I can't do that until I listen to what the fuck J. Cole just put out. What the fuck did Kendrick just put out," he said. "I’ll hear some shit by them, and I’ll be like, Yo, I ain’t the best rapper right now. I need to fuckin’ get up, get back on my shit."

He stressed that it’s important for rappers to study what’s going on in hip-hop, and that it would foolish for him to ignore what some of the best rappers out are doing.

“I couldn't sit up here, say, ‘Man, I want to be the best rapper that ever was and ever will be, but I don't listen to anybody else's shit and I think that I'm untouchable.’ No, because the minute you sleep, someone's coming to take your head off,” he said. “That's what I've always loved about rap. It's always evolving, and to succeed you need to be constantly aware of that and keep up with it.”

The article comes not long after Em shared his experience of a near-fatal drug overdose 15 years ago in an interview with Paul Rosenberg. "“It took a long time for my brain to start working again,” Em said of his accidental overdose on methadone.

Read the full feature written by Em here.

Related Articles

More Complex

Sign up for the Complex Newsletter for breaking news, events, and unique stories.

Follow Complex on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok