I have interviewed Backstab the Kingpin (another white rapper from Detroit who has known Eminem and the context of 8 Mile in the early 90’s). He expresses his point of view on 8 Mile, Eminem, and other artists and gives us his perspective.
“Much of what existed in the 90’s is now gone……In the early 90’s (post L.A. Riots; during the peak of West Coast rap’s success) there was still great tension between whites/blacks in Detroit. At that time rap/hip-hop was black culture and a white b-boy, emcee, or producer was refered to as another Vanilla Ice.
During that time, guys like Proof use to run St Andrews. He has dred locks and ran with this b-boy dreadlock crew, that whenever a white emcee would step to the cypher he’d get barraged with peckerwood/cracker references. I was there> i saw it first hand. I would get dominated away from cyphers but brute aggression. To the effect that I would choose to rap in a corner alone rather than jump in the cypher. I would hit the infamous “hip-hop shop” where when they passed the mic, theyd pass it right by me….This had nothing to do with skill, cuz these people never gave me a chance to spit. It had everything to do with color.
We played a show at Alvins, a bar near Wayne State University that featured Wall Street (royce 5-9 crew) Eminem anchored by hypeman, bizzare, as well as some other groups. I begged my way on stage that night to perform. When my music started and they annouced my name people started to cheer and clap, but when i took the stage, a whiteboy—backed by a mid 40’s black singer who always remained half in the bag—they began to boo. I mic checked and started my 3 song show. Half way through the first song the women in the audience cheered and started dancing. It was just moments after that a crew of dreds began to boo and yell and throw things at the stage. I had a pocket full of cassettes to hand out to the crowd (no cd burners back then) I knew that it wasnt me or my skill but simply my color. This crew of dreds were hating something fierce. and the sound got lower….as i looked over i noticed all kids of guys standing around the mixer…someone had turned my music down intentionally. I started to get mad. Heres me and only 3 other white spots in the whole bar (eminem, kim & another white couple they were with) I started to middle finger the crowd of haters who were tryin their best to yell louder than my performance. They started to get a bit violent and moving towrd the stage—that’s when I started throwing my cassettes give-a-ways at them like a pitcher throws a fast ball. Needless to say I was escorted offstage in a hurry and rushed out the backdoor by the promoter.. He kept yelling at me “your crazy, you need to get the hell out of here!”. I missed Em’s performance that night but was later told by his manager at the time that he got so drunk he was falling all ove the place and skipping his music. My assumption is that he saw what he was up against and had to put back a few…..
DESCRIBE THE DETROIT STYLE…….
Detroit style (as much as the shady camp hates to admit) is derived from Esham the unholy. A solo rapper known for birthing “acid rap” and talking about sick, twisted, “wicked” things such as the devil, murder, drugs, and degredation. Just about every success story to come out of detroit has a touch of “wicked” to them. Most Detroiters know that Eminems “shock” lyrics are directly influenced by Eshams persona. Mix the raunchy metaphors with typical braggadoccio emceeing and you get a detroit lyrical sound. The beats? They tend to me east coast derived, however some west coast/dirty south type of groups like cheddar boys, street lords, mc breed, and other have also found success. But for the most part, detroit hip-hop is based one wicked metaphorical lyrics backed with east coast driven beats.
BRIDGING BACKSTAB WITH EMINEM………The “8 mile” reminds me of that night at Alvins, one thing Em did not do is touch on the reverse racism that I felt back in the mid 90’s, I think this is for obvious reason–his friends and labelmates being all black. Another that I thought was funny is that St Andrews which is protrayed in the 8 mile movie as an all black club was actually a majority white crowd or at least half. One thing I did see when Em blew up is the lack of depth in lyrics. I think he single handedly changed the rap game by making it ok to talk about anything that rhymes.
Em refers to such abstract shit as tubby sub buns, post toasties, sulfuric acid and other obscure shit. Now anything is up for grabs when spitting lyrics. Before you only mentioned cool, popular shit, now kids wanna hear raps about how their mom is fucked up…My recognition from hard work. Day in and out doing shows. I’ve done over 75 shows in 2 years. Thats more than most national artists do in that time. I’ve got more hatred from the detroit scene than 90% of the artist from Michigan. It stems from my stance on the powers that be and the upper echelon of the hip-hop artists in Detroit.
I think Eminem has done wonders for hip-hop as wel las white emcees, but I also think he plays a role much larger than he can fill. I am suprised no one has caught up with him and hurt him–quite frankly. since his success, he has not set foot in the city except to film his movie or shoot a video or perform at his only show this summer. This is not his city by any means, but he does bring it a spotlight. I think if he wasn’t so damn popular and sought after the same things that were going on the 90’s would be happening now.
I grew up (in school) in the suburbs so I wasn’t subject to any type of reverse racism during that time. At that time I was siding with the minority becuase I have major native American roots and lived in a racist town called Livonia where blacks got pulled over randomly and often. If you are black–you dont drive thru Livonia at night–you will be arrested for one thing or another. This is why I chose a urban college and left for th city at my most influential years (18-25) I have lived in the cass corridor & brightmoor. Both neighborhoods known to Detroit as some of its worst parts. Run-down bruned up buildings, crack and drugs, prostitution and transsexuals running the streets. Fights, and shooting heard all night. Detroit is not a safe or happy spot. Its a city thats felt years of oppression and contains people who have worked their hands to the bone at factories and auto plants trying to provide a good living for their loved ones. Its a materialistic city that thrives on stepping on the next man to better yourself.
I think if i had $5,000 I could turn it into $10,000 in a few short months–by way of hip-hop. I think if I had $100,000 i could make a half million thru hip-hop in little time. I beleive hip-hop success is all about financial backing and money. In my opinion, most of the best lyricists I have ver met are the ones dirt broke with no money to even record music. The day Eminem gave me his slim shady ep I knew he had major talent, and in my opinion since his initial success, I think he’s gotten worse and worse. I think money has wrecked his pureness and style, and to be quite frank, i think he sucks and i dont listen to him or buy his records. I think his choice to come out with “my name is” as his break out song–broke my spirit in liking him. I know this is somehting you will not agree on but I have a different perspective and was able to hear his early music (which i still have alot of)and hes only a shell of the emcee he once was. I think money fucks everybody up. thats why i choose to stay at the bottom , at least i can stay true to my roots.
MY LYRICS I write for me–I try not to be cleaver, to rhyme key words, to have funny punchlines and to not bite others style- I just write for me and hope other people enjoy it too. I can only hope to find some type of national/international success but if it takes me changing or playing some role (which i know Eminem is doing) then i’ll be happy right here being some local fame rapper who never quite made it. I’d like to send you my entire album. Did I mention I know Deangelo baily–? He’s an idiot!
I wasn’t tryin to shit on your hero I’m just giving you my perspective. I have mad respect for Eminem and the day i saw him at the MTV music awards performing for the first time I stood up cheering. heres a guy, local like me, rapping like im tryin to, who made it! It was a great feeling. But like I say after seeing him develop, it kinda depressed me to see what hes become.
Mz corona in 8 mile–was a militant whore who use to talk shit to me for being white back in the day—she may not remember it but she talked mad shit to me one day at a Wayne State hip-hop convention with her girlfirend while i was posting flyers whe gawked at me–so when we both opened for mc Breed last year, i acted like i didnt know her even though she knew very well who i was then cuz I was making more noise than 80% of the city at that time. But I didnt forget how she played me before Em blew up. Now her little part in 8 mile has got her all famous–how fitting.any other questions id be glad to answer.
Backstab the Kingpin