This is my third cover story for Billboard and since Eminem is one of the biggest stars in the world, it's my biggest cover story to date so it's definitely exciting especially because I've been following him for so long. I was really excited to have the chance to capture where he is at this point in his career right now.
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It was my first time interviewing Em but it was not in-person though. It was actually over the phone because he had just gotten back from that promo trip he did out in Europe in early May and he was back in Detroit and wasn't gonna be in New York until the week of release so it had to be over the phone. But it was good, I got a good amount of time with him and he's the kind of artist that's an open book. Whether it's in his music or through interviews, he's known for being very open about where he's at in his life. The most challenging part was trying to get him to say something that he "hadn't" said before. Even though he is very open, I was still caught off-guard because I've talked to so many different artists and he's by far the most open I've ever spoken to.
It's definitely a challenge to put it all together and that's one of the things that makes a Billboard feature or cover story stand out from other types of profiles is that we really try to explore where the artist is at in his career from a business perspective, career perspective to where he's at in the game and how does he fit into the context of the music industry right now and he's a great person to examine in the context of where the music industry is at right now. He's one of those artists that's sold millions and millions of albums and so the question is can he still do that. And if anyone can do it at this point in time, he's one of the few. So I wanted to get the story from that angle and had to talk to people around him that are responsible for making that happen. So speaking with everybody from [Hot 97 Host and DJ] Peter Rosenberg to help examine his place in hip-hop but then also his manager Paul Rosenberg and then Jimmy Iovine and people at his label and the people he reached out to this time around to help him go in a different direction on his album, so all the producers.
I listened to his album non-stop and watched every interview he did over in Europe and tried to figure out what did he say in those interviews that I can pile up on and get him to say something more about and then I wanted to kind of come at him with the approach that he recognizes I've listened to the album and I wasn't just asking casual questions. I read what people on Twitter were saying because I interviewed him a day after the album had leaked so he kinda knew it was out there and that people were talking about it but I read what people were saying about "You're Never Over," the song about Proof and he said, "I feel like I finally got it right" and he was referring to writing a song about Proof and the struggle that he had with doing that. From the story, I hope people caught on that he's very much music first. So I approached him from that level.
I asked him something that didn't make it into the story. I sort of asked him how he was so connected with Detroit and how it was a part of his identity and with things not going so well over there with the economy, would he ever consider leaving, but when he started talking about what Detroit meant to him it was pretty clear that he would never leave. He said, "You know at this point, I don't think there's anything that could take me away from my hometown." And so it was something that I couldn't really fit into the story because it didn't tie-in. He talked about how Detroit makes him feel regular and he lives pretty close to where he grew up. He still has all of his friends over there.
One of the other things is when he was talking about Jay-Z, which was a shorter quote, but when I asked him about how they came up with the idea of doing the stadium shows, he was just talking about how much respect he has for Jay and anything that involved him he was totally down for. Another thing that didn't fit into the story was that he had reached out to Lil Wayne in jail. He wrote him a letter but he had just sent it a few days before I talked to him. He said he was still in touch with people who were going through the low points in their career like he was years ago and so he reached out to Wayne to sort of let him know he was supporting him.
People have definitely been supportive of my story and I have a lot of friends who are writers as well and editors and everybody was excited about an Eminem album in general from every outlet. It was just an exciting moment that he was doing an interview like this. It's his first Billboard cover story so that was pretty cool and I think everybody was excited about that and that made me more excited about it as well. To finally see it out is exciting because the process can be very challenging at times but once you see the final product, it's very gratifying.
Monica Herrera is an associate editor for Billboard.com and her latest Eminem Billboard cover story is currently in stores nationwide.
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