Eminem broke down what makes up his hip-hop foundation in a new interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe on Wednesday (Dec. 30).
Resembling bricks building a wall, the rap cassettes of yesteryear stacked up behind Slim Shady as he took Lowe back in time to when he was collecting tapes as a kid with his friends.
“It took me about three years to get what I got right now, because some tapes are just harder to find than others. Because when I was a kid, I didn’t have money to buy every tape I ever wanted,” he said during their video chat. “So usually what we had to do was go to this place called Record Time, and I would take the tape that came out a couple of weeks ago, trade it in for the new tape, whatever else was out. Me and my friends would take turns buying the tape and be like, ‘It’s your turn to buy this tape and I get to dub it, and then it’ll be my turn to buy the next tape.’ … But I said to myself, ‘If I ever make it one day as a rapper, I’m going to get every tape that I always wanted.’ And there’s something nostalgic about being able to hold the tape.”
The Detroit MC continually gauges the rap genre’s newcomers and bridges the gap between them and its legends, especially on his Billboard 200 No. 1 album Music to Be Murdered By, which he released this year. After unexpectedly dropping Side B two weeks ago, Eminem unites the likes of Dr. Dre with Don Toliver and the late Juice WRLD as his featured artists. But if he had to pinpoint the best era of hip-hop, he’d bet on the golden age of hip-hop from the ’80s to ’90s and its pioneers LL Cool J, Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and Eric B. & Rakim.
“I feel like a lot of these kids won’t understand the experience of hip-hop in its infancy stages. … Everyone’s going to think their era is the best era, but this really was to me. … The golden era of hip-hop was the best era to me just because it was so new,” Eminem said. “You’d never heard it before. I know that I saw and heard a lot of people say that it wasn’t going to be anything. Like it wasn’t going to last or whatever. Here we are, what, 40, 50 years later? It’s crazy. And it’s the biggest music, if I’m not mistaken, it’s the biggest genre.”
Even though Slim Shady underlined that he raps “to be the best rapper,” he named Lil Wayne, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Joyner Lucas as his personal favorite MCs in the same game (when he’s not distinguishing a certain era). “I feel like when you push yourself like that, that’s what I feel like inspires greatness,” he explained.
Watch Eminem’s interview with Apple Music below.