Eminem rose to fame in the late ’90s and early ’00s with songs like “My Name Is” and the Oscar-winning No. 1 hit “Lose Yourself.” The Detroit-bred rapper eventually began writing more songs that took on a more comical tone, such as “A** Like That” and “Big Weenie.” When Eminem looked back on those songs decades later, he realized that they came from a dark time in his life.
Eminem fell into drug addiction after his early success
Eminem reflected on the early days of his career in a 2022 interview with XXL.
“When I look back at my catalog, the first three albums [1996’s Infinite, 1999’s The Slim Shady LP, and 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP], I’m definitely proud of them. Sometimes I go back, and I listen to them if I’m in a spot where I need some inspiration. Sometimes it helps me to go back to those songs. But then I think, ‘Man, I could’ve done those vocals so much better. I could’ve connected this word with this word,'” he said. “I always do that kind of s***.”
Soon, his addiction to prescription drugs began to take greater control of his life.
“I was able to downplay my addiction and hide it for a while until it got really bad,” he said. “I’m coming off The Marshall Mathers LP and going into Encore when my addiction started to get bad. I was taking Vicodin, Valium, and alcohol. I kinda fell off the map a little bit and didn’t explain why I went away.”
Eminem’s ‘silly’ songs came about when his drug addiction was getting worse
Eminem went on to reflect on his 2004 album Encore and the difficult time in his life that the album was made.
“Encore took a whole f***in’ different trajectory because Encore was during my addiction,” he said honestly. “I was realizing I’m getting addicted to these f***in’ pills. I was just coming off [2002’s] The Eminem Show and the 8 Mile soundtrack and I started recording and had about seven or eight songs that were very much in the vein of what I do. But we ended up putting them out as a f***in’ bonus disc because the songs leaked. If those hadn’t leaked, Encore would’ve been a much different album.”
“‘We as Americans,’ ‘Love You More,’ a lot of songs ended up on the bonus disc because they leaked and that disappointed me. So, I had to start over, which felt like a mountain I had to climb. You climb half the mountain, and then all of a sudden, you get knocked back down,” he said.
While continuing to work on Encore, Eminem’s addiction became more serious, which began to influence the songs he was writing. “The problem was, in the recording process as I was getting more addicted to drugs, I was in more of a goofy mood. So now, I go make ‘A** Like That,’ ‘Big Weenie,’ ‘Rain Man,’ all those silly songs, which I’m writing in f***in’ seconds at that point in time. I was just writing high and feeling good about what I’m doing because I got f***in’ 20 Vicodin in me and this is fun to do, and I’m having fun, so f*** it.”
Eminem is sober today
Encore was released in November 2004, and some critics felt that Eminem was beginning to lose his touch. “The album comes out and it was definitely a wake-up call, a slap in the face, a sobering moment, because I was on a roll and then somehow, I got off this roll,” he admitted. “I didn’t know where to f***in’ pick things back up and I was angry at a lot of things, including the songs leaking because it changed the entire landscape of that album… I knew in my heart of hearts, this is not the same quality as The Eminem Show.”
Encore would be Eminem’s last project for five years. In 2007, he suffered a near-fatal overdose that led him to turn his life around. He went to rehab and has been sober since April 2008.