Funkmaster Flex has seen them come and he’s seen them go. As part of Eminem week, we reached out to Flex to ask how he was feeling Em’s new work, and he dropped knowledge about how a one-time struggle rapper elevated his game to become a certified rap god. Drop a bomb on this interview.
As told to Rob Kenner (@boomshots)
On what's slept-on about Eminem
"To me, what’s slept-on about Eminem is his ability to adapt. I think people don’t talk about that enough. If you think about it, and if you listen to every one of his albums and the year it came out, it’s not behind. He adapts to what’s going on. His hooks and his guest appearances may change, but lyrically he delivers what you expect.
"If you ever notice people who like to argue which Em album is better, it’s never because of the lyrics. They kind of argue about the tracks. It’s never about what he delivers. It’s never about what he says. He’s pretty steady. He is a great lyricist. Just the fact that we’re talking about him in 2014, still selling albums and still lyrically aggressive all these years after he came out, is great. Jay Z of course has done it longer, being aggressive and he still hasn’t passed what Jay Z’s done, but what he’s doing is great.
On why he loves Em's new song "Don't Front"
"Believe it or not, I think my favorite Eminem song for me right now—even though I know it’s a current song and I know it’s on the album if you buy Call of Duty—is 'Don’t Front' with Buckshot, it’s got the 'You Know I Got You Opin' sample.
"I like it for several reasons. That’s a tough song to drop a verse on because Buckshot murdered that record. With that said, I think Em did a real good job. I love his second verse where he talks about “Almost signed to Duck Down” and says something about Loud Records, which I didn’t even know. Of course, 'Rap God' and 'Monster,' I like all those records.
"I like the big records like 'Stan' and I like them for a reason. People think it’s easy to make a record that’s broad like that, but it’s actually harder for a lyrical guy to make 'My Name Is' and those songs because he has to dumb down his lyrics. He kind of knows when to turn it on and when to turn it off.
He was getting ready to sign to Duck Down and Loud—that’s a struggle. He was struggling. He was a struggle rapper that did what he needed to do and got to the right place.
"Do you remember the first time you heard 'Stan?' Remember you were saying to yourself, 'Where is he going with this record? I’m not sure where he’s going.' And it took a minute and then you’re like 'Oh shit. Oh this is where he’s going. Christ!’ That’s storytelling on steroids.
"And I really like the way he fit in on that Dre album. Think about it, and people don’t talk about it: Eminem was so big—not pop big. He was so lyrical and he was so forward-thinking that it influenced Dr. Dre to make an album. Dre would’ve never made that album if he didn’t have [Em], that was his new Snoop. That was his drive. That was, like, his gauge of wackness. You know Em said to him behind closed doors sometimes, 'Nah you can’t do that, Dre.' He was so talented he gave Dre enough confidence to drop an album. And even if it didn’t feel like that, that’s what happened. Dre wouldn’t have dropped an album without a new rapper.
"Sometimes, I don’t know if people realize. Maybe people think he’s had it easy. In that Buckshot song you kind of think about it. He was getting ready to sign to Duck Down and Loud—that’s a struggle. He was struggling. He was a struggle rapper that did what he needed to do and got to the right place.
"That Buckshot record is something horrible. That’s like saying, 'Yo man, don’t question what I do out here.' I don’t even think anybody was questioning, but he wanted to clarify. I’m competitive so I know when somebody’s gearing up. That competitiveness, that edge. Plus he didn’t have to make it. And you know what? That’s record was a risk. That could go wrong for you as well. And so he made sure it didn’t go wrong for him. He got in there and did what he had to do."