He said it himself, he’s a Rap God. Eminem isn’t human. He’s not "real."
We all know his story, he didn't spare any of the painful details, but it sounds like a hero’s journey; Beowulf with bars. One day Eminem was virtually unknown and then the next he was the biggest, most controversial artist on the planet. There was no gradual public come up, no early mixtapes. A select few might have stumbled across a copy of Infinite in the early days, but like I pointed out several years ago, 99.9% of the world believe Em was an overnight sensation.
He's been so high for so long, it’s almost hard to imagine there was a time Eminem wasn't famous. But in writing the article about his failed first single, it showed me there was once a time Eminem wasn't so different than most of us.
When I pen any piece about the past, I research. I dig and dig and dig some more to find unearthed digital artifacts hiding in blog posts, forums or picture galleries. It’s my process. It’s fascinating to get a glimpse into what people were thinking before everyone documented every thought in 140 characters or less. Occasionally, you even find the footprints of an artist from when they walked the earth among mortals. Those are my favorite moments, and it happened yesterday.
While perusing one of these ancient hip-hop forums (also featured in this article), I came across a post from February of 1998. At first, I thought it was written by a fan. I quickly realized it was so much more.
* Source Magazine Unsigned Hype (Mase/LOX on the cover)
* Underground Soundz Magazine (Fugees on Cover @ local Barnes & Noble)
* Next issue of Stress Magazine
* Next issue of Urb Magazine
* Live jan.27 w/Diamond D, Fat Joe & Big Pun - NYC
* Live on Strech & Bobbitto Show 1/29/98
* Live jan.31st w/ ras kass -Alvins-
* Live w/Company Flow - date to come
* Live w/ Esham -date to come
* Live March 14th - Holbrook Theater, Hamtramck, MI for Metro Times
* Shows in Las Vegas, Cleveland, LA, NY, Detroit, Toledo, Ann Arbor, Mt. Clemens coming soon.
* Rap Files Video Show Comcast Cable Channel 54 interview coming to Detroit soon..
* Eminem was selected as the 1997 Sway and Tech Wake Up Show "freestyle of the year" (meaning he beat out the likes of Craig G, Most Def, The Dogg Pound's Kurupt and many others).
* Featured on the new Sway and Tech Wake Up Show HOME VIDEO.
* The S L I M S H A D Y E P is in stores now!!!!!!!! (on CD, Cass, 12" + T-Shirts)
1x12" = $7 (ppd)
2x12" = $12 (ppd)
EP on CD = $12 (ppd)
EP on Tape = $8 (ppd)
*international orders add $10
Checks made to Mark Bass. - Money Orders are preferred.
Marc Kempf & Associates Mgmt
Attn: Web Ent.
Tec, MI 49286
PS: Please forward this to hip hop hedz.
JUST A FEW QUOTES:
Creme de la Creme MC...redefines the term ill...impressive showing in events like Rap Olympics... pointblank this ain't your average cat. This motorcity kid is a one of a kind talent and he's about to blow past the competition, leaving many melted microphones in the dust. —Rigo “Riggs” Morales (Source Magazine, NY)
I’m Really Feelin’ This Kid, Eminem! — Brian Lassiter (Promoter, Atlanta, GA)
He’s Killin’ It! —King Tech (DJ, WakeUp Show-92.3 The Beat, LA)
I haven’t heard shit that dope since “Follow The Leader”... hip hop needs Eminem. — Mixxula (Mixx-N-Company Record Pool, Sacramento, CA)
"They're lovin' you... you got the Juice." — Phil Blak (DJ, 88.1FM, Highland Park, MI)
Daaaaaammmnnnn!!!! — Marly Marl (Producer/DJ — Hot 97, NY)
BIO: YOUR EVERYDAY RAPPER.
Well, at least I listen to his music everyday. Although I’m writing this as a publicist, ever since I heard his first album, Infinite, I’ve listened to Eminem as a fan. Now as his second project, the Slim Shady EP spreads like wild fire across the nation, I couldn’t pass up working with him. First off let me tell you that as a rap music journalist, I’ve read literally thousands of artist bios and rarely does an artist live up to their publicist’s kind words. I’ll try to spare the hype and give you just the facts.
22 year old, Eminem (Marshall Mathers/pronounced M&M), has been rhyming words with prolific intensity since age 14. He is currently signed to a production company, Web Ent., that is shopping him to other labels and/or shopping his music for distribution. Unlike many of today’s rappers, Em doesn’t come with just tight beats and lyrics. His creative song writing and tendency to actually say something on record results in full songs– melodies, chorus hooks, lyrics that take the listener down elaborate twisting routes, always working off of his complimentary music.
As a confessed hip hop junkie, I’ve heard just about every rap group that has ever made any type of name for themselves, and I can honestly say that it is rare to see a new talent come along that warrants the kind of attention that Eminem does. What’s the key to his success? What makes him stand apart? Well, on top of the phat production... on top of the on-point delivery and infectious voice, and on top of the over the top personality that he unveils, Eminem possesses an advanced ability to connect words. The magic is in the syllables. Where most MCs rhyme the last 1 or 2, Eminem will rhyme the last 5 or 6. It sounds good on paper, but it really must be heard. Sample lines like Smell the Folgers’ Crystals / this is lyrical combat, gentlemen hold your pistols or Too many mental problems got me back on dope and smokin’ weed again / I’m going up over the curb, driving on the median / finally made it home but I don’t got the key to get in. You can feel the imaginative and calculated effort that goes into an Eminem rhyme.
Recently Eminem was inducted as a member of New Jersey’s infamous MC collective, The Outsidaz, who were heard on The Fugees’ multi-platinum The Score (included in the group are Young Zee [Perspective/Polygram], Rah Digga [Flipmode/Elektra/WEA] and Pace 1 [Ruff House/Columbia]). Eminem is well respected by his peers and known for his energetic concert performances (headlining, as well as, opening for Wu-Tang, Smif-N-Wessun, Big Pun, Ras Kass, Hiero, etc.), and for being a worthy opponent in MC battles. Besides winning several rap contests in Detroit, he displayed his freestyle battle prowess at the ‘97 Skribble Jam performing in front of several hundred MCs, DJs, graffiti writers, B-Boys and music industry professionals from NY to LA. He placed second against 70+ opponents, going four tie-breaker rounds with the winner, Chicago’s undefeated Juice. He’s been covered by The Source, Billboard, Stress, Underground Soundz, Urb, SJS Urban, The Detroit Free Press, Metro Times as well as other publications. In late ’97 he was selected on to a team of five MCs to participate in Rap Sheet’s Rap Olympics originally scheduled to face off against Ras Kass, Korrupt, Maddskillz and others. Ultimately Eminem’s team faced off against Project Blowed’s team and was cut short due to overbooking. All was not lost though as Eminem made his presence felt in the MC battle, defeating many– to come in second (out of 50+ MCs) and became the talk of the evening. 92.3 The Beat’s Sway & Tech had him perform the following evening on their worldwide show (9 million listeners) next to industry vets like Kool G Rap & Craig G. He was recently honored with the “1997 Freestyle of the Year" award from Wake Up Show for that nights rhyme showing. He will also be featured on their upcoming commercially released video. Representing at industry conferences like How Can I Be Down, Mecca, and VIBE, he has allied with and impressed many peers and industry insiders (and Outsidaz). Thus the buzz outside of Detroit has begun.
Eminem is currently seeking a deal with a major or well-poised independent label that can take him to the masses, where his penchant for intense rhyme structure and entertaining personality can be fully felt. Your everyday rapper- not to be confused with your average rapper.
Was this a press release written by an early Eminem publicist? Was it real? It seemed unlikely that someone would impersonate the publicist of a virtually unknown rapper, but even still I was skeptical (because the internet), so I did some more digging. Eventually, I came across the exact same press release on another website and realized this wasn’t just a random publicist's intern, it was written by Marc Kempf, who was Eminem’s first manager.
Even then I wasn’t totally convinced, so I went back to the original post. I found something interesting. In the beginning, he lists the merch and albums they have available for sale and there’s a part that says “Marc Kempf & Associates” and “make check payable to Mark Bass.” Mark Bass, of course, is part of the Bass Brothers production duo along with his brother Jeff Bass, who together helped to nurture Eminem through the early stages of his career. Who would create a fake release that also listed all of Eminem's actual associates? That was all the proof I needed that this release was, in fact, penned by Em’s first manager. Once I realized this was an authentic artifact, my mind started to race.
Eminem with Mark Bass
Undeniably, this press release is a fascinating look into the fledgling stages of Em’s career. It's hard not to snicker while reading the part that says "pronounced M&M." The “Just A Few Quotes” section had me laughing out loud, too; shout out to ATL’s own Brian Lassiter. Laughs aside, there was a ton of knowledge that was seeped into that digital press release that provided some great insight into Eminem's career well before I saw him on MTV.
For example, I did some research and found that Web Entertainment is a production company ran by—guess who?—the Bass Brothers. Once Dre signed Em, Aftermath became his production company, but Eminem never forgot about Mark and Jeff. Web Entertainment is credited on Relapse and Jeff Bass both has a songwriting credit and a production credit on “Beautiful.” While Eminem and the Bass Brothers remained connected, I realized, the same can't be said for Kempf.
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Imagine being there from the early stages, imagine putting in all the work to get someone signed, then in a sense being kicked out of the room. Eminem replaced Kempf with his current and longtime manager Paul Rosenberg, who co-founded Shady Records with Eminem in 1999. Artists replace management all the time, but it must have been brutal for Kempf to get over exiting the career of a future star right before he broke. That has to still sting.
Or how about The Outsidaz? I'm kind of ashamed to admit I didn’t really know much about them or their relationship with Eminem, but there are traces of their relationship all over the Slim Shady LP. On the end of “Just Don’t Give A Fuck” you can hear Eminem shout them out. He does the same on “Cum On Everybody.” It's safe to assume he met them after he made the switch to Rosenberg since he was living in New Jersey right before he blew up, and that’s where the Outsidaz hail from. I knew the Outsidaz and I’m a fan of Rah Digga and Pacewon (The Only Color That Matters Is Green is my shit), but I had no idea they were that close to Eminem.
Why were they never pictured together or closely associated after those early days? Well, it turns out it's because there was a falling out. I did some more digging and found some pretty interesting nuggets. First, on a hiphopshelter.com forum, a user extracted bits and pieces of a now inaccessible interview with Pacewon about Eminem where he details how they met, and the root of their falling out.
HHDN: How did yourself and the rest of the Outsidaz end up meeting Eminem and coming together back when he was just a local Detroit battle rapper?
Pacewon: I met Bizarre, went to Detroit, Eminem and Bizarre picked me up from the airport… The rest is history! Eminem had “Infinite” out already. We played songs, went to a radio station and rapped. We did “Take the World with Me”. Eminem and Bizarre became part of the Outz.
HHDN: There’s been talk that yourself and Young Zee had recorded verses for ‘Amityville’ which is on Eminem’s 'MMLP’ album and the verses were cut, is that true? If so, is there anywhere to hear yours and/or Zee’s verse(s)?
Pacewon: Yes, that’s true and no, I think they were permanently erased...
The same forum post has excerpts from another interview, which goes more in-depth about what happened.
Pace Won: I dissed Em because he turned his back on me. Pure and simple. I made Em and Bizarre members of the Outsidaz back in like '96 and boom, Em blows up and never holla's back. Fuck Eminem.
Tha Outhouse: On the same subject, it's known that you and Zee were originally on Amityville from Em's Marshall Mathers LP but Eminem wasn't feelin' your verse so that's why you got taken off. Can you explain that a bit better? What was Em looking for and why did Zee get taken off the song too?
Pace Won: Don't be crazy and think Em wasn't feelin' my verse. Do you think Bizarre could ever kick a fresher verse than me? Bizarre is my favorite D-12 member but c'mon. I killed my verse. Em said Dr. Dre said he had too many people on that album and me and Zee had to come off.
So “Amityville” originally had verses from The Outsidaz? I had no fucking clue. Shades of Marc Kempf, it’s crazy to think about how much different their careers would be if Em had kept them on board. Imagine seeing an album sitting on a store shelf that contained a track that you were originally on? Oh, and that album totally blew up.
If you're curious, Pacewon later recorded a diss track about Eminem, which sheds light on their fractured relationship. It's pretty interesting in the context of this investigation.
Like with Kanye and Mikkey Halsted's Cash Money dealings, it's rather eye-opening to revisit these stories with the proper context we have now. The stories of a rapper's come up might seem so basic. They get signed and then they eventually get popular, right? But when you really dive in you see these sub-plots begin to emerge; one small decision can cause ripples that change lives forever. If you think that sounds dramatic, ask Pacewon or Kempf.
Ironically, even in 2017, we see this type of press release all the time. Eminem's early release is no different from any pitch that is attached to a submission to DJBooth. To see one from so long ago, before the internet really meant anything, is remarkable—props to Marc for seeing the potential of the world wide web.
This should also serve as a reminder that every rapper, no matter how big they get, no matter how far removed they become from us regular humans, begins their career with a burst of hope and a touch of desperation. Some just documented these feelings in a press release.