Eminem Finds His Higher Power Up
I didn't know that I'd finally give up on real instruments. Years ago, I just rapped to the tape running: when I would go furiously, I'd get spit on by the rest of the press even if the rhymes were dope. Seemed everyone dealt in obvious insults that sounded like articles, and I liked it, reading it didn’t bother me, laughing at lies was a hobby. Everybody has to think about the music when they talk about everything else. But I wanted to seem dope even if I never wanted to get awards. I made tracks with Dre all those times, and that was like my training wheels. The whole time I thought of getting into real instruments, because when I'm performing I would get to amplify more than my voice. It's hard to seem as talented as a rock star with just a microphone — impossible for most — whenever you're onstage. So I played and did finger exercises and warm-ups. For a while I even got into banjo to get better at picking.
For just over a year, I worked with the late Blind Willie McTell, who'd trained Jack White, and a bunch of real bluesmen. I wasn’t even hitting bar chords at the time, shaking a lot from eating pills, and Willie offered to come out to the house at any time of day, to keep me going. What am I going to do — play? Not when I had to put down drinking to pick up a guitar. He showed me pentatonic scales, the techniques of soloing. A lot of beginner shit I did’ t want to know, I didn't care. Because I wasn't that driven; I wasn't looking at music like words. Once I got clean, that went away.
In 2007, I overdosed on just about everything, and I went into the ER and then rehab. I was close to irrelevant musically, at least compared to where I was five years before. I'm not sure how I got so out of it, but I have my theories. The handfuls of the Vicodin and the Valium I'd been eating for years leaves a lot of poison in your body and your mind, so to avoid a going insane and killing myself, I was constantly drinking too.
When had to stay sober out of rehab, I needed to get into the studio, but I also needed to figure out a way to do music without drugs. Unless I was totally full of garbage, I had trouble writing and producing. So I started playing. It gave me music all over again like going back to the beginning of a relationship that’s gone bad, which is impossible, but playing guitar also helped me write, so it was what I needed. It's easy to understand how people replace one addiction with another, and music is the best addiction. Trading ways to express yourself with ways to fuck yourself up is the only kind of addiction trading that's good for them. I got an alcoholic mind, and when it came to guitar, I think I got a little frustrated. I wanted to become a guitar hero.
Seventeen hours a day playing scales. I would get up at five in the morning, and before I went to the studio, I would play every mode in every key in about an hour. Then I'd come home and play every key and mode again. I started getting OCD about the music theory, making sure I learned every key and counting the notes in each one. When I stopped I had down about 149 scales in different keys and modes. I played to the point where I bled out my blisters and kept playing. All the constant picking began to ruin my fingertips.
So when I was stopped to make beats for the record, I tried out some of those video games for pretend guitarists. One of the first ones was Rock Band. I know a lot of these gamer guys are losers, but I'm alone in my house; no one can see me getting my rocks off. Besides, some of that shit is kind of fun.
When I first started my Guitar Hero 3 obsession, I alternated my real guitar, playing one day and doing the the video game the other. Then I stopped playing the real guitar altogether because it wasn’t fun anymore. The gamer in me won. After a while I started playing Just Dance because you can sing on that, so I mixed it up to get everything tight. I did the Wii version of all of them for a little while (and I still do that bowling game because it's good when you have friends over), but then I moved on to the Xbox because of Kinnect.
Now every morning before I hit the studio, I play guitar hero on three consoles, rock band on two, and Just Dance on the Xbox One all before 5 AM. I’m alone, so it helps that the music for some of this shit is dope. The coordination you need is pretty crazy, too. The first time I did Just Dance, I couldn't perform for two days. I just keep thinking of all those missed note graphics on the screen, and thinking maybe I was never talented. Now I'm doing the different modes of Rock Band each day, voice one day, drums the next, and I'm still kicking it until 2 AM. And I can finally do it on the highest difficulty level.
I still hate Dance Dance Revolution. It’s a piece of shit because you need the pad. I’m not going to leave the hotel next time I play Tokyo anyway . I guess I'm pretty obsessed with fake music video games. I feel like if I put the custom controller down for too long, I would probably stop going to meetings, and then I would get drunk, and then I would take the bad pills, and then I would stop taking the good pills. I’m still afraid of that, that I might lose the fight against dual diagnosis Schizoaffective Disorder and Polysubtance Abuse with Narcisstic Personality Disorder on Axis II. Once you’ve been to the dark place where you’re about to end it all and be a has been first, and you've got your life invested in it, you don't ever want to lose your higher power by letting the battery in the controller die.