Eminem‘s manager was so worried about his star client’s health after a near-fatal overdose in 2007 that he feared Slim Shady might never be the same again. “It took a long time for my brain to start working again,” Em said to longtime exec Paul Rosenberg on this week’s episode of the Paul Pod podcast on SiriusXM’s Shade45.
“You literally were coming off of an overdose, and they had to sort of stabilize you with a few medications. And some of them took you a minute to adjust to — let’s just leave it at that,” recalled Rosenberg. “So, you’re learning how to rap again almost literally, right? Because it’s the first time, probably, you were creating without having substances in your body in… however many years, right?”
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It was so bad, Mathers said, that he remembers Rosenberg asking the medical team a very important question. “Didn’t you ask the doctors when I first started rapping again and sent it to you, didn’t you say, ‘I just wanna make sure he doesn’t have brain damage’?” Shady asked. Rosenberg said he was definitely concerned at the time about Em’s ability to rap again.
And then, when the “Detroit Basketball” song leaked out, Rosenberg said his fears came to light because, well, “it wasn’t good.” Em said he thinks that was literally the first song he wrote sober. “And it was f–king weird, because my brain was turning back on… I started going over lines, like, ‘Wait, that’s not good.'”
The good news is that Rosenberg said it didn’t take long until his star client was back on the groove. “It was quick. It was certainly concerning, but we’re only talking about over the course of five or six months total,” he said. The first session back was in Florida, where Shady recalled, his “skin was itching,” which he didn’t realize at the time was a sign of the drugs coming out of his system as he was still actively in withdrawal.
“I was taking 75-80 Valium a night,” Eminem said, with both men marveling that he survived such a potentially lethal nightly dose. The sessions with Dr. Dre in Florida took a while to click, but once he laid down the blackout murder anthem “3 A.M.” things started to come together. “I had just started watching a bunch of f–king serial killer documentaries,” Marshall said of his desire to sound like a “demented” serial killer on the song.
The partners in rhyme agreed that the best song Em made was the Curtain Call: The Hits bonus track “Fack,” though Rosenberg admitted at the time he thought it was not that great. Rosenberg also recalled that Marshall went away after releasing that album to deal with his recovery and came back with “an album with a bunch of f–king accents on it,” as the rapper described 2009’s Relapse.
As for the infamous parade of funny voices on that collection, Eminem said they just “built” up and kept getting “thicker and thicker,” and to this day he can’t even figure out what they even were. “I didn’t really notice it and was just so excited that you were making music and having a good time with it,” Rosenberg said. “At the end I went to play some music for some people and they were like, ‘yeah, he’s rapping really well again but what’s up with the accents?'”
“I remember when it first got sober and all the s–t was out of my system I remember being really happy. Everything was like f–king new to me again,” Em said of that period. “It [Relapse] was the first album and the first time that I had had fun recording in a long time.” During this good time, the MC said, he actually had to re-learn how to rap and Rosenberg revealed that enough songs were recorded that it could have been a double album, which instead became Relapse: Refill and a series of leaks.
But contrary to popular belief, there are not still enough songs left over that haven’t been heard to make a second Relapse album, Rosenberg assured fans. Em disagreed, saying there might be enough, but they are “terrible songs” that will not see the light of day.
“It was sick, and I was so happy that you weren’t brain damaged… permanently disabled from rapping again,” Rosenberg said of the chills he gets listening to Relapse song’s such as “Underground” these days. At some point after recording Relapse, though, Eminem went back to listen to an older album and realized his new work, “it don’t feel like anything right now.” Looking back now, he doesn’t have a problem with the rhymes or verses lyrically, but “it’s just that the accents… I felt that I sounded so demented in that s–t, that I got cemented in that s–t, and then I bent it back b–ch and then I went to scratch itch,” he said, freestyling his feelings.
That’s why during the first session for 2010’s Recovery with Dre in Hawaii, Em was in search of that feeling form the early Slim Shady LP days. “It was literally like a f–king awakening and it happened in like f–king five minutes, 10 minutes listening to some of my older s–t and going, ‘I need it to feel like this again,'” said Marshall about his lightbulb moment regarding the avalanche of silly voices on the previous album.
Listen to some of the interview below.