Eminem, interviewed recently in Rolling Stone magazine, reveals just a bit of his creative process, linked to a childhood impulse. While his “compulsion” isn’t one we all share, it evokes other behaviors from that time in our lives. Nice that Marshall has managed to use his to inform, if not define, his art.
How do you go about putting together a verse?
Even as a kid, I always wanted the most words to rhyme. Say I saw a word like “transcendalistic tendencies.” I would write it out on a piece of paper - trans-cend-a-list-tic ten-den-cies – and underneath, I’d line up a word with each syllable: and bend all mystic sentence trees. Even if it didn’t make sense, that’s the kind of drill I would do to practice. To this day, I still want as many words as possible in a sentence to rhyme.
Also important is the idea of a simple activity that will help you develop your creative muscles, an idea I explored in Skill Building for Design Innovators
I also enjoyed this insight about Eminem’s approach because it reminded me of some fun fieldwork a few years ago, where we met a young rapper who demonstrated his process for us, flowing from using looped music to freestyle against, a workbook where he’d write up a ton of lines, picking and choosing based on what worked when rapped aloud.
Sometimes I’ll write a song in just one sit down and it’s perfect, I don’t even touch it. For me, like I’ll feel good about it. Sometimes it’s just crap, and that’s fine, because I feel like you get out the crap and then you can pull the little gems out of it. Or even if it’s just one paragraph of a song I wrote, I’ll take that and piece it into other songs. In this case, I would sit down and open a file and then I’d just listen through it, see if there’s anything worth keeping.
His process (which developed into some exciting design implications for our client’s products) became a bit of a meme around the office, eventually becoming iconified thusly: