Eminem's New Memoir: Exclusive Excerpt
In this first look at ''The Way I Am,'' the Grammy-winning rapper comes to terms with his anger issues, including his bout with Moby at the MTV Video Music Awards
I've always had issues with my temper.
When I look back at myself during those years when everything was blowing up, I think maybe at first I was a little, you know, too aggressive and loud. It was like I had this voice and I had to be heard. ''Don't f--- with me,'' to the point where people must have been wondering, Why is this dude so angry? Is he on crack? Is he on crystal meth? I go back and see old interviews and even now I wonder, Why was I so hyper?
I went through a phase back then when I was shooting pistols in the air behind the studio and, you know, pulling guns out, pointing a pistol in somebody's face, not even realizing that I could've gone to jail for that s---.
Back then I was living on a main road, Hayes Street, and random people used to come and knock on my door all the time. The first album had gone four times platinum. I finally had some money. I remember thinking, I have a house, I can park in back. It was the first time in my life I'd had a real home that I could call my own and nobody was going to be able to throw me out. Directly across the street there was a trailer park. Wouldn't you know it? Sometimes kids would sit and wait for me to come out.
Other times they didn't even bother to wait. They would just come and bang on the door. The doorbell kept ringing. I was starting to lose it. As soon as I would open the front door the camera flashes would go off. They'd start clapping. I was losing my mind. I got up in one kid's face with a pistol. Unloaded, but still. Was that the right thing to do?
Hell, no. But my temper was out of control. Thank God I was in enough control to not do something tragic. I had to move out of there before I wound up hurting somebody.
My mood can change quickly. It's always been that way. When I was drinking, I could be in a good mood — just loving everybody and feeling like everything was great — then somebody would say the wrong s--- to me, and before you knew it there was nothing my bodyguards could do to stop me from reacting and at least punching, spitting, or kicking a few times before they could get to me. It would be the simplest s--- that would set me off, like somebody looking at me hard. And I could not stop until I felt like I'd done something to make that person accountable, to make that person learn his lesson. Afterward, I would be full of apologies, just saying ''I'm sorry'' over and over. I'd feel like such an idiot for acting like that. Like, Why can't I control this?
You all saw the Triumph thing go down at the MTV Video Music Awards, right? That's a pretty perfect example. I mean, there I am, sitting in my seat, and they announce that I'm up for an award, presented by Christina Aguilera. I had said some things about her in the past, Moby had said some things about me, and I had said some things back about him. So I'm sitting there next to Proof, and they bring in Moby and sit him like two rows directly behind us. So now I'm like, Okay, what's going on? What are they trying to do? I've got Moby behind me, and Christina up onstage, and then this dog puppet gets up in my face. I'd been so busy touring and doing my own s--- that I hadn't had time to watch TV, so I had no idea what that dog was. All I saw was Moby and Christina and this dude who's sticking his hand in my face, trying to be funny. I didn't even see the puppet, you know? My natural reaction was, ''Get the f--- out of my face. Get your f---ing hand out of my face.'' And that's when I kind of lost it and a half. I should have kept my composure, but instead I stuck my fingers basically on Moby's nose. Right in his face, like, ''F--- you.''
When they told me I won the award, I went up there and gave Christina a hug, because there wasn't a real beef with her. I was just dissing her to separate myself 'cause I didn't want to be classified as a pop artist. When I hugged her, I thought I was being as mature as I could be. But when I got behind closed doors in the green room, I threw a fit. There was a cooler with drinks in it, and I asked if anybody wanted to grab a water or something. Nobody did. So I picked up the cooler and threw it against the wall and kind of f---ed up the whole room, basically.
The thing is, in the hip-hop world, when you talk about someone, you might not want to see them, because you don't know what's going to happen. With Moby, it wasn't like I literally wanted to physically put hands on him. It's just that all my life I'd been trained to react a certain way when put in a situation like that. My instinct was, someone talks about you, you see them, you fight. But Moby? Really? I was going to fight Moby? I was going to fight a puppet? I don't know if anybody will even understand it now. It was basically just too many different things at once — Moby, Christina, the puppet...I was like, Okay, someone's really f---ing with me.
In hindsight, I should have handled it differently, and I truly believe that if I were in that situation again, knowing the whole shtick with the puppet dog, I would have acted differently. What I actually got mad about was the most ridiculous thing in the world. A puppet.
This is the kind of s--- that happens that makes me think to myself, Maybe you need to go back to anger management class. Because, obviously, I haven't learned. Even now, part of me feels like, Eminem, whenever you drink you get violent. Another part of me is like, No, whenever somebody f---s with me, I get violent. And if I'm drunk and someone f---s with me, it's even worse. This is one reason why I never go out.
This problem is not something I'm proud of. I mean, I'm a lot better than I used to be. I am. But it's still messed up. I'm 35 years old. I'm a dad now. Once you hit 30, you're supposed to at least be a half-grown-ass man, you know what I mean? The truth is, a lot of things put me on edge. Even today. It can be something as simple as being asked a million stupid questions, or a rapper who's not on my level trying to come up by starting beef with me. So many things. God knows, 10 years down the road I don't want my daughters hearing about all this somewhere and going, ''He thinks it's cool to act like this.'' Because I don't. The moral of this story is not that it's alright to walk around with my chest stuck out saying, ''Look at me. I'm Mister F---ing Tough Guy.''
But, you know, when you grow up like I did — bouncing around, fighting for everything — it does make you angry. It just does. It's something I've kind of tried to block out, but when I do think back about how many schools I went to and everything else, it makes me realize, No wonder I was so mad at everything. It was almost a way for me to get back at every bully who ever picked on me, every person who ever f---ed with me growing up. The fact that Hailie's life is so different than mine is one of my proudest achievements.
I do think age has made a difference. Hailie and Alaina are getting older, and I'm not taking so many things to heart like I used to. I mean, I still have a temper, but I have more control now. The stakes are high, and my family comes first. Marshall Mathers behind bars isn't cute, and Eminem behind bars is terrible for business.
Guns and violence have been around me my whole life — in my family life, in my social life, everywhere. I've just always had a fascination with them. I'm not saying I was a thug or that I dealt drugs or murdered people. That's just how I was raised — step up or get stepped on — so I never really thought it was a problem, you know?
When I was 11, living in Missouri, my uncles would take me to the gun range to bust guns. AK-47s. They'd let me empty off the whole clip. When I was seven years old I was handling my uncle Todd's Colt .45 — the same Colt he allegedly ended up murdering a dude with in a supermarket parking lot. He had me shooting at beer cans at that age. Sounds crazy, but it's true. Anybody who has a gun will tell you that at first it makes them feel powerful. I was infatuated. Obviously I don't feel that way now. I've lost too many friends, family members, loved ones to gun violence. I would much rather use my fists. (Kidding.)
A lot of people in my family had screws loose because of abuse. If you go back and look at the abuse that I took, it's no surprise I became who I am. Someone I don't really want to be.
Excerpted from The Way I Am by Eminem with Sacha Jenkins. Published by arrangement with Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) 2008 by Marshall B. Mathers III.