Eminem’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction is a complicated honor given the institution’s history of overlooking hip-hop’s most influential and pioneering Black artists, but Saturday night’s induction ceremony was a celebration of his contributions to the genre nonetheless.
The rapper himself acknowledged that fact in his induction speech, quipping that there were probably a few reasons why he wasn’t supposed to be there Saturday night. “I know that I’m a rapper, and this is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and there’s only a few of us right now who have been inducted in already. (The second, Em joked, “I almost died from an overdose in 2007, which kind of sucked because — Hailie, plug your ears — because drugs were fucking delicious.”)
Eminem spent the bulk of his speech name-checking the myriad rappers — from cult heroes to his multi-platinum peers — who inspired him and made his career possible. “Those were my rock stars, man,” Em said. “And I just want to say, 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.”
Eminem earned his Rock Hall spot in his first year of eligibility, the same year that his fourth studio album The Eminem Show celebrates its 20th anniversary. The record featured the lead singles “Without Me” and “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” which joined an even longer list of chart-dominating and era-defining releases like “The Real Slim Shady” and “Stan” on The Marshall Mathers LP, “My Name Is” on The Slim Shady LP.
The rapper hit a blazing hot streak on his 2004 album Encore, which featured back-to-back hit singles, including “Just Lose It,” “Like Toy Soldiers, “Mockingbird,” and “Ass Like That.” In the years that followed, Eminem weathered career highs and lows with a spattering of hits, including a grand comeback with “Not Afraid,” the Rihanna-assisted chart-toppers “Love The Way You Lie” and “The Monster,” and crucial deep cuts like Nicki Minaj’s “Romans Revenge.”
Eminem joins Run DMC, N.W.A., Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five as the only hip-hop artists to be inducted into the institution in its nearly 40-year history.
Eminem’s Rock Hall Speech
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 — the music that basically saved my life. Where’d the man — where did Dre go? The man who saved my life, ladies and gentleman, Dr. mortherfucking Dre. So I’m going to try to make this as quick and painless as possible. I’m fucking stuttering and shit, I mean, Jesus Christ.
So I’m probably not supposed to actually be here tonight because of a couple of reasons. One, I know that I’m a rapper, and this is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and there’s only a few of us right now who have been inducted in already. But there’s only a few of us. Secondly, I almost died from an overdose in 2007, which kind of sucked because — Hailie, plug your ears — because drugs were fucking delicious. And I thought we had a good thing going, man, but I had to go and fuck it all up and take too many. Ok, Hailie, you can…
Ok, so… Hold on, I lost my motherfucking’ spot. Paul, did I say — I said drugs were delicious, right? And finally, I had to really fight my way through, man, to try and breakthrough in this music. And I’m so honored, and I’m so grateful that I’m able to be up here doing hip-hop music, man, because I love it so much. And they say you don’t work a day if you love your job. This part, I’m not crazy about, but okay.
My musical influences, when they say it takes a village to raise a child, well it took a whole genre and culture to raise me. 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’ve, or could’ve, done this shit without some of the groundbreaking artists I’m about to mention.
And this is a list, man, I put this list together yesterday, and I kept adding to the shit, and adding to the shit, so if I forget anybody, I apologize, but these were my teachers right here. 2 Live Crew, Tupac, Third Bass, the Alliance, Apache, Audio Two — Milk Dee, what up? Awesome Dre, the Beastie Boys, Big Daddy Kane, Big Pun, Big L, Biz Markee, the Notorious B.I.G. of course. Black Moon, the Boogie Monsters, Brand Nubian, Brother J from X Clan, Buckshot, Casual from Hieroglyphics, Chill Rob G, Chubb Rock, Chuck D and Public Enemy. Cypress Hill, D-Nice, Dana Dane, De La Soul — now I’m a bout a third of the way done. Def Jef, Del the Funky Homosapien, DJ Quik, Dr. Dre, of course. Dres from Black Sheep, Ed O.G., EPMD, the Fat Boys, Fat Joe, Fu-Schnickens, Gang Starr, Geto Boys, Heavy D, House of Pain, Ice Cube, Ice-T, the Intelligent Hoodlum, JJ Fad, Jaz-O, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Just Ice, K-Solo, Kid and Play. I’m a tenth of the way done!
King Sun, King Tee, Kool G Rap, Kool Moe Dee, KRS-One, Kwame, Lakim Shabazz, Large Professor, Leaders of the New School. The old man, where’d I just see him? The one and only LL Cool J — love you bro. Lord Finesse, Lords of the Underground, Mantronix, Masta Ace, MC Breed, MC Late, MC Shan, Melle Mel, Merciless Ameer, Mobb Deep, Monie Love, Nas, Nwecleus, Onyx, Organized Konfusion, Outkast, Andre 3000, Paris, Pharcyde, Queen Latifah, Rakim, Redhead Kingpin, Pete Rock and CL. I’m almost done.
Redman, Roxanne Shante, Run-D.M.C., Salt-N-Pepa, Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh. Snoop Dogg, Souls of Mischief, Special Ed, Stetsasonic — now I’m down to the S’s. Super Lover Cee and Casanova Run, the D.O.C., the Roots, Black Thought, the Skinny Boys, Tony D, Too $hort, Treach from Naughty by Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, U.T.F.O., Whodini, Wise Intelligent and the Poor Righteous Teachers, Wu-Tang Clan, and YZ.
Those were my rock stars, man. And I just want to say 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 have to say, man. I know this induction is supposed to be me talking about myself and shit, man, but fuck 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.