Over 25 years into his career, Eminem still wants the crown.
The “Rap God” covers the 25th anniversary issue of XXL, where he opened up about his place in hip-hop today and what fuels him to be the best rapper.
“My role in today’s hip-hop is to always try to be the best rapper. That’s it,” said the 49-year-old icon. “That’s how I want to feel inside. That’s what I want to feel.”
He credits rappers like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole for inspiring his hunger. “And I can’t do that until I listen to what the f**k J. Cole just put out. What the f**k did Kendrick just put out?” he said. “And I’m thinking, Oh, these dudes ain’t playing. I don’t want to get swept away in that shuffle. I still want to let everybody know who the f**k I am. Like I said, ‘They rap to be the best rappers.’ I’ll hear some shit by them, and I’ll be like, Yo, I ain’t the best rapper right now. I need to fu**in’ get up, get back on my shit.”
— Shady Records, Inc. (@ShadyRecords) September 14, 2022
Even though he remains the best-selling rapper of all time, he’s less concerned with the charts these days and more focused on competing with the likes of Kendrick, Cole, Joyner Lucas, and Big Sean.
“At this point, a lot of the big achievements that could come in your career have happened for me already, so I don’t hyper-focus on numbers and being on charts,” said Em. “What I hyper-focus on is people like Kendrick Lamar, Joyner Lucas, J. Cole and Big Sean, and watching them and how the f**k they’re doing their shit. Because they’re also focused on being the best rappers.”
Em admits that he is constantly looking at today’s MCs to make sure he remains at the top of his game. “I look for the younger generation to push me,” he added. “I have fun watching the rappers I just mentioned, and being like, OK, let me see if I can do something that inside I think I can top that. And every time the best rappers drop an album, it changes the landscape of the fu**in’ game. At least it does for me, and I’m like, I need to be able to rap like that. Because if I don’t do that, someone’s going to come behind me, probably in the next couple of years, and wash me.”
Elsewhere, a now-sober Slim Shady opens up about his battle with drug addiction and recalls a time when things got so bad that 50 Cent had to cover for him.
“I was taking Vicodin, Valium and alcohol. I kinda fell off the map a little bit and didn’t explain why I went away,” he said. “I remember things started getting really, really bad when me, 50 and G-Unit did BET’s ‘106 & Park.’ We performed ‘You Don’t Know’ on the show and then we did an interview afterward. 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.”