Eminem: The Rolling Stone Interview
So you have joint custody of Hailie, but she lives with you and spends most of her time with you and not with Kim.
I don’t know if I’m inclined, or allowed, to say more than what is fact. In the last year, Kim has been in and out of jail and on house arrest, cut her tether off, had been on the run from the cops for quite a while. Tryin’ to explain that to my niece and my daughter was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. You can never let a child feel like it’s her fault for what’s goin’ on. You just gotta let her know: “Mom has a problem, she’s sick, and it’s not because she doesn’t love you. She loves you, but she’s sick right now, and until she gets better, you’ve got Daddy. And I’m here.”
What are your goals and principles as a dad? I’m sure there are boundaries.
Bein’ a dad is definitely living a double life. As far back as I can remember, even before Hailies was born, I was a firm believer in freedom of speech. I never wanted to compromise that, my artistic intergrity, but once I hit them gates where I live, that’s when I’m Dad. Takin’ the kids to school, pickin’ ’em up, teachin’ ’em rules. I’m not sayin’ I’m the perfect father, but the most important thing is to be there for my kids and raise them the right way.
What are your biggest rules as a parent?
Teach them right from wrong as best I can, try not to lose my temper, try to set guidelines and rules and boundaries. Never lay a hand on them. Let them know it’s not right for a man to ever lay his hands on a female. Despite what people may think of me and what I say in my songs — you know, me and Kim have had our moments — I’m trying’ to teach them and make them learn from my mistakes. It’s almost like juggling — juggling the rap life and fatherhood.
Well, in the nexus of that juggling is Hailie, who’s in some of your songs, like “My Dad’s Gone Crazy,” from “The Eminem Show.” Does she get to hear the songs she’s in?
Most of the time I’ll make clean versions of the songs and play them in the car. When she made “My Dad’s Gone Crazy,” it’s a crazy little story. If I feel like I’m working too much, I let the kids come up to the studio. I get this little guilt trip inside, so I would have Kim just bring her up and let her hang around the studio. So me and Dre were working together, and Hailie was running around the studio and she was like [in Hailie’s high voice], “Somebody please help me! I think my dad’s gone crazy!”
Instantly that locked in with a beat we’d made the day before. I went to my house, and I had her go in the booth and say it. When she opens up, she’s just like her dad in a lot of aspects. I just told her what to say and she nailed it, the first take. It almost was scary, to where I had to slow it down. I don’t know if I wanna put her on any more songs. I don’t wanna make her any more famous. She can live a life. She didn’t choose to have her father become a rap star. Nor my niece, nor my brother. So they’re able to go outside and live a normal life, go to stores and do things normally that I can’t do. Which is why, a lot of times, certain things I can’t be there for.
What about school events?
School is different. In school, when they have plays, field trips, all that stuff, I don’t miss them, even if I gotta deal with the craziness. And the teachers are really good about telling the kids, “When Hailie’s dad comes in, he’s Hailie’s dad, Mr. Mathers.” Last year I went and read to the class. Two books. It was reading month or something. There’s a Hailie love song on this album. Yeah, a song called “Mockingbird,” to Hailie and Alaina. When Mom was on the run they didn’t understand it, and I’m not the greatest talker in the world, especially when I’m trying to explain to two little girls what’s goin’ on with someone who’s always been a part of their life and just disappeared. So that was my song to explain to them what was goin on, probably the most emotional song I ever wrote.
Michael Jackson called your mocking of him in the “Just Lose It” video “demeaning and insensitive.” Are you picking on Mike?
I didn’t do anything in the video that he hasn’t said himself he does. With the little boys jumping on the bed and all that — they’re just jumping on the bed. People can take what they wanna take, decipher it how they wanna decipher it. But it’s not actually Michael Jackson, it’s me playing Michael Jackson, studying the moves and doing the impressions. I don’t have an opinion, really, neither here nor there, against Michael Jackson. When Thriller came out, you couldn’t tell me nothing about Michael: Dude was the ultimate, dude is a legend. But the allegations that are thrown at him and the seriousness of the case — the guy’s jumping on top of his van dancing?