In the early days, the production duo’s studio on 8 Mile Road was like a second home for Eminem. And it was there that they recorded The Slim Shady EP, which would eventually make its way to Dre and Iovine and land Eminem his record deal. They’d continue to work with Em for years, producing all but three tracks on The Slim Shady LP, some of the more twisted ends of The Marshall Mathers LP, and — drum roll, drum roll, drum roll — “Lose Yourself.”
With this week’s release of The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Grantland.com got Jeff Bass on the phone to talk about the good old days.
Bass about the first meeting.
“My brother was listening to the radio, what today is our 95.5. It was a DJ we knew named Lisa Lisa. He called and asked her who that was, freestyling. She said, that’s Marshall Mathers. He said, “Is there any way we can get in touch with him?” She gives him the number. My brother called. And at three o’clock in the morning [Eminem] came to the studio, with a bunch of little dudes who turned out to be D12. That’s how it began. We didn’t know him, and he didn’t know us. He took a leap of faith at three in the morning.”
Bass explained the estranged relationship with Eminem.
“I still love him and everything and I’m sure he still loves me, but we don’t communicate like we used to. He told me he had to experiment with other writers, other producers. It was very fair. All artists probably do that. We could only have our vision of what he should be. Life happened. Life just moves on. It’s not like he said, ‘Jump! You’re fired.’ It was just, ‘I’m gonna go in a different direction.’ ‘Cool, I wish you the best of luck.’ I can guarantee that we could sit down today and write a song, and we could still put something out that the fans would ove. And maybe someday that’ll happen.”
He he recalled how Dr. Dre first discovered the white rapper, who would go on to become a superstar.
“He was doing the Rap Olympics, and he was winning all over the place. And then he lost in L.A., but when we were there we had a bunch of The Slim Shady EPs. At that particular show, there was somebody in the audience watching. A young kid, 17 years old, and he saw all the passion that Marshall was putting into his show and his lyrics. And he came up to us after, ‘Can I get a CD?’ Little did we know, he worked in the mail room at Interscope Records. And he loved Eminem. And what he did for us, on his own, is slip the CD in Jimmy Iovine’s listening bag that he used to take home every Friday. And Jimmy actually listened to it, and said ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. What is this?’ And he called Dre, and then Dre came and listened to it. It’s not like Dre found it on the floor in his garage. The true story was that he was called by Jimmy. And then it all snowballed from there.
He was really excited, first of all, that Dr. Dre was gonna be involved. [Dre] was a big star in ’98. He was freaked out. ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it!’ Me and my brother were excited. ‘Dr. Dre wants to talk to us!’ And Marshall went out to L.A. with my brother first. They got there a week before me. And it started immediately. Meeting Dre, talking with Jimmy, meeting all these people, this whole crazy period. I think it was February of ’98.”
Go to Grantland.com to read the full interview.