Over the weekend on November 5, the 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees were honoured for its 37th annual ceremony and among them was Eminem, his first year of being eligible since his first commercial debut 25 years ago. He has now become the Rock Hall’s 7th hip-hop inductee.
Eminem was introduced by his mentor and longtime friend Dr. Dre, who spoke of the Detroit native’s “undeniable gift” and his shock when finding out Eminem was in fact white.
“Over 20 years ago, Jimmy Iovine, who is also one of tonight’s inductees and one of my best friends, played a demo tape for me from a guy who called himself Eminem. The first thing I said when I heard it was, ‘What the f**k did he just say?’ I loved it so much that I couldn’t stop listening to it.
A few days later, Jimmy called me up, and he said ‘Hey, Dre. You know he’s a white guy, right?’ Completely f**king me up. The last thing I was thinking about when I was listening to the music was that he was a white guy. It never even crossed my mind.“
Dre then went on to share memories of when the two met and how he received a lot of doubt and backlash after signing him in 1999.
“While everyone else around me had their doubts, I knew that his gifts were undeniable. His raw, dark, humorous lyrics, coupled with an impeccable cadence, stood out from everything I had ever heard before. And he was humble. Both of us were. We were two artists in do-or-die situations. He was desperate to find a way to feed his family, and I was searching for something that I could sink my teeth into creatively. Each of us were exactly what the other one needed. And I was willing to bet my entire career on that. Facts.
My rebuttal to those naysayers was something like this: ‘He’s gonna be the bestselling artist on our label.’ Little did I know he was going to be one of the bestselling artists of all time.”
It’s always refreshing when an underdog wins, but Eminem’s wins stretch further than anyone else’s in the industry. Having Dr. Dre induct you into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is quite the feat, but it’s only a notch on the belt of Eminem’s accomplishments.
“Eminem would go on to overdose, relapse, recover — and not only on his albums, in real life. Let me tell you something, this guy goes through a lot of shit just to get a concept for a song. But here’s Eminem’s genius: With his incredible wit and wild imagination, he was able to hold a mirror up to white America while also expressing pain through poverty and dysfunctional families devoid of hope, Eminem brought hip-hop to middle America and offered kids who looked like him a way to connect to it.
Hip-hop wasn’t just for Black kids in desperate, inner-city circumstances anymore. People of every stripe and color had the art form speak to their struggles also. Eminem wasn’t just the underdog who broke through the glass ceiling of hip-hop, he shattered that sh*t. More than 220 million albums sold. Thirteen Number One albums, 10 of which all consecutively debuted at Number One, making him one of the first artists ever to achieve that sh*t. Winning awards, an Emmy, an Oscar, making him the bestselling artist of the 2000s — the bestselling hip-hop artist ever. Let me repeat that, the bestselling hip-hop artist ever.“
For his live performance, Eminem launched into a medley of hits including ‘My Name Is,’ ‘Rap God,’ ‘Forever’ and ‘Not Afraid,’ and he was joined by special guests Steven Tyler for his ‘Dream On’ vocals in ‘Sing for the Moment’ and Ed Sheeran for Dido’s vocals in ‘Stan.’ Longtime hype man and friend Denaun Porter neared Eminem’s side and DJ Alchemist manned the decks behind them.
(Video credit: ePro Team: Support for Eminem & Shady Records)
“This sh*t is crazy… I realize what an honor it is right now for me to be up here tonight, and what a privilege it is to do the music that I love, and the music that basically saved my life,” Eminem went on to say in his speech.
“So I’m probably not supposed to actually be here tonight because of a couple of reasons. One of them that I’m a rapper, and this is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Secondly, I almost died from an overdose in 2007. And finally, I had to really fight my way through man to try and break through in this music, and I’m so honored and I’m so grateful that I’m even able to be up here doing hip-hip music, man, because I love it so much.“
He then went on to give thanks to those in the industry who helped him get to where he is today, and the biggest sources of his inspiration, including Tupac, Dr.Dre, Beastie Boys, The Notorious B.I.G, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Andre 3000, Ice T and Wu Tang Clan among many others.
“They say success has many fathers, and that’s definitely true for me. So whatever my impact has been on hip-hop music, I never would have or could have done this sh*t without some of the groundbreaking artists that I’m about to mention right now. These were my teachers right here.
Those were my rock stars man, and I just want to say, like, those are just a few of the names that I hope will be considered in the future for induction. Because without them, a lot of us wouldn’t be here. I know I wouldn’t.
So that’s all I had to say, man. I know this induction is supposed to be me talking about myself and sh*t man, but f**k that. I would not be here without them. I’m a high school dropout man, with a hip-hop education, and these were my teachers. And it’s their night just as much as it is mine. So thank you.”
The full Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will air on Nov. 19 on HBO.