As many know, Eminem signing to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath records did wonders for his career. Thanks to the music mogul giving Eminem a large platform to showcase his skills, he was able to shoot up to megastardom. But before Dr. Dre took notice, another rapper had the opportunity to sign the rapper.
Dr. Dre almost gave up on signing Eminem
Dr. Dre originally signed Eminem to his Aftermath label back in the late-90s. This was due to Eminem’s Slim Shady EP ending up in Dr. Dre’s hands.
“Dean Geistlinger walks up to me, he’s like ‘Yo man you got one of those CDs?’ and I was like, ‘ya’ and I kinda just tossed it to him. And didn’t think nothing of it. I didn’t know that Dean worked with Jimmy Iovine. So he gave it to Jimmy, Jimmy gave it to Dre, and I get the call and I’m like ‘oh s***,’” the artist revealed on Mike Tyson’s Hotboxin With Mike Tyson podcast.
But Dr. Dre revealed that it wasn’t easy signing the future mega-star despite his talents. To many, Eminem’s skin color presented a problem.
“I didn’t know how many racists I had around,” Dr. Dre said on Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money Radio (via Hip Hop 24/7). “My general manager had these eight by ten pictures of him, and he’s like, ‘Dre, this boy got blue eyes! What are we doin’?”
Still, Dre stuck to his guns. And not only did Eminem turn out to fit his label, but Eminem might have stopped Aftermath from going under.
“I just felt like, the music I was doing at that time, it wasn’t completely up to par, it was something we were working on and experimenting with it,” Dre said. “I think the album that we did at that time, the Aftermath record, the first record, it went platinum, but it wasn’t my best foot forward. It didn’t smash. Jimmy Iovine introduced me to Eminem. And that’s when everything took off.”
Fat Joe regretted not signing Eminem when he had the chance
Apart from Dr. Dre, Eminem’s music managed to get attention from other musical artists as well. In an interview with Big Boy TV, the Bronx rapper revealed that Eminem himself reminded Joe how he initially passed on him.
“I was just immature, I was crazy, I keep tryna tell y’all,” he said. “I was wild for the night, and for the day. So I was just in these places, Revolt summit, people would just give me their demos. So I was just tryna get myself in the game and Eminem apparently gave me his demo,” Joe recalled. “So years later, we had dinner, me, Em and B-Real from Cypress Hill. Em was like, ‘Yo Joe Imma tell you something,’ I was like what, he was like I gave you my demo like six times. I was like nooooo… Jesus Christ.”
Although Joe acknowledged what Dre did for the 8 Mile star, he also asserted that Eminem would’ve been successful if he signed him.
“I mean we make great music, of course not you know that the legendary Dr. Dre, NWA all that, they gave him the whole different thing. Dre beats were crazy but he would’ve been hot with us too,” Joe said. “We made Big Pun, we made Remy Ma, we made DJ Khaled, the list just goes on. We could’ve made him a big star, it probably would’ve been a different kind of star.”
Eminem almost signed with Master P
Eminem was also close to signing with No Limit Records, which at one time was one of Hip Hop’s most successful labels. But as rapper Silkk the Shocker told Hip Hop DX, they ran into the same problems Dr. Dre did. But whereas Dre decided to sign Eminem despite his skin color, No Limits went the opposite direction. They thought Eminem was talented.
“We just didn’t know how to make that transition with a white rapper,” The Shocker said. “But hey, we messed up on that one.”