Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eminem asks producer to "Help me step my game up"

Alchemist pulled it off once again.

Al, who rose to fame with his production for the likes of Mobb Deep, Lloyd Banks and Lil Wayne, has been prospering lately as Eminem's DJ. Em doesn't perform too much, so when a star of his caliber takes the stage, every show is high-profile. This month, Al was in the DJ booth during Em's Home and Home shows with Jay-Z in Detroit and in New York.
"With the band now, it eases a little bit of the pressure," Al said. "My friends say, 'You're pressing play and stop.' I'll tell them, 'It's pressing play and stop; it's not the technical part of it. If you mess it up, it's a stop and go, but you better do it right on time.' It's like the pyro. The pyro guy can't be a second off. Somebody can get blown up. Em being the perfectionist he is, it was clear: 'All right, Al, when you're on the stage with Em, there's no room for error.' I respected that. I was like, 'Oh, that's gonna make me step my game up.' I'm watching his shows, before I was his DJ, looking at how his vocals were perfect. In sync, perfect. I felt like this is important. I took it real serious." Al said he, Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg and D12's Mr. Porter all give Em input on the show.
"At first I was nervous. Like, 'This is one of the greatest of all time. It's nothing I can really tell him,' " Al thought back. "But as you vibe together, you get ideas. I would test the waters a little bit. He would listen, not always take your idea, but be open-minded. As we started rehearsing, I started implementing some of the stuff I'm known for." Paul and Em told Al to put some of his own flavor into the live sets. Fans got to hear some of that flavor during the Home and Home series.
"It was 'The Way I Am,' " Alchemist explained. "It was an old version where they had Edie Brickell in it: 'What I am is what I am.' So ... I was like, 'We should bring it back when we play it live.' It was a reason they didn't use it on the original song. Maybe clearance or something. Stuff like that. Or at the end of 'Not Afraid,' when the band is breaking it down, I made them get the a cappella and I put in the 'Holla if you ... ' Start cutting that up. I think about [DJ] Premier a lot. I think about how to be subtle as a DJ. The band's up here, Em is running the show. I look at it as accents. I was around [DJ] Muggs for so many years. I got to see so many great people do it. Definitely try to think of what I saw through the years, be subtle and play my part. Add some flavor."

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