Speaking of being on your game, who had the second-best verse on "Forever"?
Eminem: Who had the second-best verse? [Laughs.] I don't know, I like everybody's verses—but I like Drake's verse a lot. I wouldn't say I had the best verse; everybody approached the beat different. Kanye was crazy, too, and Wayne. I just saw the beat differently than anybody else did; for some reason, I felt like the beat was a double-time beat, so I rapped faster.
I'm sure sobriety has changed more than just your rapping. Has it changed your friendships?
Eminem: Yeah, I've gone back and rekindled some old friendships—people I knew from back in the day. I feel like I'm closer with everybody now, certainly—probably a lot easier to get along with, too.
Eminem: [Laughs.] You want to explain that, Paul?
[Em's manager] Paul Rosenberg: [Laughs.] In every regard. Literally, in every way you can imagine he's easier to get along with.
So you feel better?
Eminem: [Laughs.] Hell yeah, I feel better. I feel like a human being again. There was one point in time where I felt like...[Sighs.] I don't know—I felt like plastic.
In what way?
Eminem: I think I looked plastic. My face, fat plastic. [Laughs.] I was eating, but the Vicodin made me hungry because it eats up your stomach lining, so you want to fill your stomach back up, but then it stops you up so you can't shit, you just—
Eminem: That's why I was gaining so much weight, I was just so fucking bloated. It's a trip when people take sobriety for granted. Feeling trapped in my addiction and then getting sober—you appreciate it so much more, because I didn't know if I would ever know what it's like to feel normal again, ever.
Are there moments when you feel like you're being tested?
Eminem: Not with drugs or alcohol or anything like that. I just steer clear of it.
So you're stone-sober these days?
Eminem: Yeah, it'll be 18 months on the 20th [of October]. I realized I can't touch anything, and that's why I'm clean right now and why I'm going to stay clean. My brain just doesn't know when to shut off. When I do something I have to do it all the way—that goes for music, with a high-hat, a snare drum, a rhyme, everything. I have to push it to the extreme. That's how I realized I have addictive behavior. Somebody told me this once, that the thing that makes me bad is the same thing that makes me good at other things.
When the details of Michael Jackson's death came to light, did you see any parallels?
Eminem: Oh, 100 percent. When you read things about Michael Jackson it's hard to decipher what the fuck is true, but there's the story of how he woke up at whatever time and he needed something to go back to sleep because he had this or that and it didn't work. That's exactly what used to happen to me: I would take a couple of pills and I would be up an hour later and I'd want more. Then I'd take more and that would be enough to maybe get me back to sleep for two more hours. Then I'd be wide awake again. So I definitely can relate, and it's a shame if he didn't have anybody there to just say, "Michael, you're an addict, you need help." It's one of the pitfalls of fame. I could just say, "Yo, I need this and this and this," and they're going to give me whatever I want because—
—because you're Eminem.
Eminem: Exactly, it's fucked up. The worst thing that could have happened to me as an addict was having money.
So much of your best music was born of your addiction, but your writing is clearly inspired again. Where do you draw inspiration from now?
Eminem: [Long pause.] I don't know, that's a hard question. As far as the everyday inspiration to write? I guess I draw it from everywhere—conversations, something I saw on TV, whatever. But as far as inspiration to make music? Of all the albums I've made, I still don't feel like I've made the perfect album. I've had ones that touch on this, and others that touch on that, but never one that's just perfect and fully relevant. I don't know if I'll ever make it, but I'm certainly trying every day.
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