Eminem recently sat down with The New York Times for their “50 Rappers, 50 Stories” piece, during which he discussed the origins of his career as a battle rapper. He says that the experience was the "greatest thing" to happen to him.
“Tuesday night I would go to the Ebony Showcase on Seven Mile. Wednesday night would be Alvin’s. Friday night would be Saint Andrew’s. And then Saturday would be the Hip Hop Shop,” he told the publication. “Proof was hosting open mics at the Hip Hop Shop, and they started having battles."
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“The first one that I got in — it was actually the first battle there — I won," he continued. "And then the second battle, I won it again. I realized maybe I should try to go out of state. So I would hop in the car with friends and drive down to Cincinnati for the Scribble Jam.”
Eminem added: “Coming up in the battle scene was the greatest thing to happen to me because I knew what lines were going to get a reaction from the crowd. That’s what I would focus on. So when I got signed with Dre, I was trying to translate that to record, to get that reaction. I would picture the listener sitting there and what lines they might react to. I just used that as a formula. Like, ‘How you gonna breastfeed, Mom?/ You ain’t got no tits.’”
Elsewhere in the interview, Eminem discussed Nas‘ classic album, Illmatic. While explaining that he knows the project "front to back," he revealed that it had a major impact on his own craft. The interview comes after the release of Nas' latest album, Magic 2, which dropped last Friday. Check out Eminem's full comments on Nas' Illmatic below.