Eminem says that he was grateful to be able to work on some of Tupac’s posthumous material.

“When his mother, Afeni [Shakur], let me produce one of Tupac’s albums — the Loyal to the Game album — I wrote her a letter thanking her for letting me do it,” Eminem, whose given name is Marshall Mathers, writes in PAPER’s “Nowstalgia” issue. “You wouldn’t be able to tell the 18/19-year-old Marshall that he would ever be able to get his hands on some Tupac vocals and have that opportunity. It was such a significant piece of history for me and so much fun. I’m like a kid in a candy store; going nuts with the fact that I’m putting beats under his rhymes.”

Eminem says that listening to Tupac was a different experience than listening to other rap.

The school I come from growing up, we spent a lot of time studying rappers, everyone from N.W.A to Public Enemy to Big Daddy Kane to Kool G Rap to Rakim to Special Ed, taking all these bits and piece from each one,” Eminem writes. “Tupac was the first one to really help me learn how to make songs that felt like something.”

That quality enables Tupac’s material to remain relevant longer, Eminem says.

“When you make songs like Tupac did, songs that feel like something, that feeling never goes away. I can put ‘If I Die 2Nite’ in and want to fight somebody the second it comes on. That’s the kind of emotion he sparked. I could put ‘Dear Mama’ in and damn-near be in tears. He was just so good at evoking emotions through songs and I picked up so much from that.”

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