The Billboard Cover Story "Eminem" (news)

Make some noise for a gentleman who’s come a long way.” It’s a muggy, breeze-less June night in New York, and some 200 fans have pressed into Bowery Ballroom under the pretense of watching local rappers with questionable names like Kosha Dillz and Quest McCody berate each other with questionable lines, like, “You sound like a character from ‘The Legend of Zelda.’ ” Really, though, everyone is here for Eminem.

The rap superstar was rumored to be headlining this freestyle battle event, Red Bull EmSee: The Road to 8 Mile, named after his own Detroit origins and the Academy Award-nominated 2002 movie that chronicled them. Now, the night’s host has finally confirmed that Marshall Mathers will take the stage.

From the moment he does — with “Despicable,” a freestyle that was leaked in April to hype his new album, “Recovery” (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) — Eminem looks furious. Neck pulsing, eyes alight, he plows through bars with the intensity of someone who has spent the past five years fighting just to stay alive, which, in fact, he has, due in large part to a lengthy and near-fatal addiction to prescription medications including Vicodin, Valium, Ambien and methadone. “Better not let up, better not let them breathe,” he spits. “Last shot, give it all you got/Try to turn me down, bitch, get fucked with the volume knob/Fuck all you snobs.”

His set ends not 10 minutes later, after performing two tracks from “Recovery”: “On Fire,” produced by his onstage hype man Mr. Porter, and the explosive “Won’t Back Down,” featuring pop outlier Pink on the chorus. Only when he says goodbye does Eminem hint at the calmer, now more sentient artist behind the lethal-as-ever rhymes.

“I do realize, man, for real, that if it were not for you guys I would not be standing up here right fucking now,” he tells the crowd. “Honest to God, man — thank you to each and every one of you.” As he leaves, fans scream and chant “Encore, encore!” to no avail.

full story: Billboard

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