Eminem covers XXL Magazine: Battle with Addiction, Meeting Dr. Dre, Looking to Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole & more (+10 photos)

Eminem celebrates XXL’s 25th anniversary with a look back at his illustrious career, which the magazine has carefully documented the entirety of. In his own words, Em shares incite on what he’s learned, how he stays motivated and why being a true lyricist has always been essential to who he is as a person.

On Meeting Dr. Dre and Making The Slim Shady LP:

“I remember saying, ‘If I could just get with Dre, man, my God that’d be so crazy. He’s so f**kin’ ill.’ Three weeks later, I was at Dre’s house. We made The Slim Shady LP. That was a fun album to make, but it’s also where everything suddenly changed. One of those changes was that drugs became a part of the way I was living my life once I got signed.”

On His Role in Today’s Hip-Hop:

“My role in today’s hip-hop is to always try to be the best rapper. That’s it. That’s how I want to feel inside. That’s what I want to feel. And I can’t do that until I listen to what the f**k J. Cole just put out. What the f**k did Kendrick just put out? And I’m thinking, Oh, these dudes ain’t playing. I don’t want to get swept away in that shuffle. I still want to let everybody know who the f**k I am. Like I said, ‘They rap to be the best rappers.’ I’ll hear some s**t by them, and I’ll be like, Yo, I ain’t the best rapper right now. I need to f**kin’ get up, get back on my s**t.”

On Looking to the Younger Generation of Artists:

“I want to do things that nobody from this point on can ever top. Rap to a level that no one else could get to. And again, it’s subjective, and every rapper, especially rappers in competitive rap, wants to be the best rapper. So, I look for the younger generation to push me. I don’t have to make albums. I don’t have to do anything at this point. It’s about wanting to, and that’s never changed for me no matter what level the fame’s gotten to. I still love to rap. It’s always been the most important thing to me. I still have fun writing.”

On When Eminem’s Addiction Got Bad:

“I was able to downplay my addiction and hide it for a while until it got really bad. And also, at that time, so much s**t was happening with the whole 50 beef with Ja Rule. We started feuding, going back-and-forth, and I’m making all of these diss records and s**t. So, I’m coming off The Marshall Mathers LP and going into Encore when my addiction started to get bad. I was taking Vicodin, Valium and alcohol. I kinda fell off the map a little bit and didn’t explain why I went away. I remember things started getting really, really bad when me, 50 and G-Unit did BET’s 106 & Park. We performed ‘You Don’t Know’ on the show and then we did an interview afterward. That’s when the wheels started coming off. One of the hosts was talking to me and I could not understand a word she was saying. 50 had to cover for me and answer every question.”

On the Encore Album Being a Misstep:

“[Encore] became a misstep and I struggled to get over the fact that I didn’t do my best. My best would’ve been good enough if the leaks hadn’t happened. But I released what I had at that point in time, and I feel that put a kind of a mark on my catalog. Encore did some decent numbers, but I was never that concerned with numbers. I was more so worried about what people think about the album. Critics and fans were important to me, and they were always at me about that project.”

Read Eminem’s complete cover story in his own words on the XXL website here. Also check out the new photoshoot below:

Photos by Travis Shinn for XXL