Below is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in RS 962 from November 25, 2004. This issue and the rest of the Rolling Stone archives are available via Rolling Stone Plus, Rolling Stone's premium subscription plan. If you are already a subscriber, you can click here to see the full story. Not a member? Click here to learn more about Rolling Stone Plus.
Eminem has become a family man. During two long conversation over two days in Detroit in October, he constantly mentions the kids he's raising, as any proud father would: His daughter, Hailie Jade, will soon be nine, his niece Alaina is eight, and his half brother, Nate, is eighteen. In October, Marshall Mathers turned thirty-two. He grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and Detroit without a father figure, but he has grown into a committed parent who goes to school plays and everything. He schedules most of his recording in Detroit and has put his movie career on hold so he can be home with the kids at night.
He has slowed down his drinking and his durg use since two 2000 gun charges that he feared would take him away from Hailie, but his ex, Kim Mathers, has slogged through her own legal morass. In June 2003 she was arrested for possession of cocaine, then failed to show up in court and for a short while hid from the police. Eminem says that explaning the situation to Hailie and Alaina "was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through." At the time of our first interview, Kim was in jail. At the time of our last interview, she had been released. "She's out right now," he said. "We're hoping that stays kosher."
Encore is Eminem's fifth solo album, and he remains one of the most skilled, compelling, audacious, obnoxious and imporant MCs in hip-hop. He thanks his mother for the troubled childhood that still fuels his anger in "Never Enough"; he tells Kim that he hates her in "Puke" and that he still loves her in "Crazy in Love"; and he declares his devotion to Hailie on "Mockingbird," which he calls his most emotional song ever. He also attacks President Bush for the Iraq War in "Mosh" and says, "Strap him with an AK...Let him impress Daddy that way."
On Encore, Eminem referes to himself as "Rain Man" because, he says, he doesn't know how to do anything besides hip-hop. He doesn't consider himself "a good talker" because his conversation is rarely as direct as his rhymes, but for two days when he sat for the Rolling Stone Interview he was open and introspective. We started out in a dank little room at a photo studio and continued in the recording studio where he does most of his work. The first day he lounged on a small black couch, wearing Nike gear and Jordans and picking at white-chocolate-covered nuts. Ever the fifteen-year-old, he said, "What's up?" and then asked, "Would you like to eat my white nuts?" He laughed. "C'mon, put my white nuts in your mouth."