A few years ago, Talib Kweli says he took his daughter, who is now 14, to the BET Awards. The award show left an impression on his daughter, who told him that one emcee stood out to her from the various performers that evening.
“Eminem introduced my daughter to lyrics,” Kweli says of that day in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “When he performed [‘Not Afraid’], she was like, ‘Who is that, daddy?’ I think she was like 10 or 11. I was like, ‘That’s Eminem.’ She was like, ‘That’s one of the best rappers I’ve ever heard.’ And she’s been on some lyrical shit ever since then.
“It was amazing to me to watch my daughter discover Eminem, and be into his lyrics,” Kweli continues. “She immediately noticed a difference ’cause Eminem had kind of been missing from the scene for a couple years before then. She immediately noticed he can rap better than everybody. She was like, ‘He was the best rapper on the floor tonight.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow. Okay. She recognizes it, too.'”
Talib Kweli On Eminem’s Work With Rawkus Records & His “Shocking” Lyrics
While his daughter may have become an Eminem fan that evening, Kweli says he knew about Eminem’s success long before then, dating back to the late 1990s when Em was making a name for himself in the industry.
“Eminem was in the Rawkus [Records] office,” Kweli says. “He was doing songs for Young Zee and the Outsidaz and them. He was jumping on beats. He was a hungry emcee…I’ve watched the legend of Eminem from the beginning. I used to walk around with a Slim Shady cassette in Detroit. I was shocked. Eminem was shocking to me. I was like, ‘How is this White boy this nasty and this fuckin’ rude at the same time?'”
Since then, Kweli says he’s continued to watch Eminem’s rise in the industry with several albums, including ones that have been criticized by some.
“Eminem has been kind of ubiquitous for a long time,” Kweli says. “Even the albums that people claim they don’t like, you still hear those songs everywhere. Like you’ll still hear ‘Love The Way You Lie’ on the radio now. And people say they don’t even like that album [2010’s Recovery].”