DJ Head worked extensively with Eminem during the rapper’s pre-fame days in Detroit up through The Eminem Show in 2002. But after that album was released, DJ Head and Eminem stopped working together.
“I moved to Europe for a couple years to do a bunch of gigs and keep money flowing in,” DJ Head says during an interview with noisey.vice.com.
Even though DJ Head had been an integral part of Eminem’s musical career as a DJ and musician, among other things, DJ Head says Eminem did not reach out to him after The Eminem Show.
“He just went and did the 8 Mile thing and just kept going,” DJ Head says.
DJ Head says that he was “neither here nor there” about working with Eminem after The Eminem Show.
Prior to that, DJ Head played a prominent role in several of Eminem’s breakthrough recordings. For instance, DJ Head worked on the drum programming of several songs from The Marshall Mathers LP. When he was working on the song “Criminal,” he says he was changing his equipment.
“I was actually switching from using one drum machine to another at the time,” he says. “I was using the SP1200 a lot, and beatheads know about that machine, it was very limited, but that damn sound on it was hard, very hard. It was just an old analog machine, simple as hell. So I was transitioning from that to an MPC3000, but I hadn’t learned how to work it yet. So ‘Criminal’ was the last time I used the SP1200. For the rest of the songs, I would put the drum sounds in the SP1200, but then I would sample out of that into the MPC3000. A lot of the reason that Marshall Mathers knocks so hard is because it was all done on analog. We were recording on tape.”
DJ Head says that his work on “Cleaning Out My Closet” was something that stood out about his contributions to The Eminem Show.
“There was a D12 show that I had to DJ for and I had tracked out some of the beat before the show, went and did the [g]ig, then came right back to the studio and kept working on it,” DJ Head says. “Em had written about 75% of the song while I was DJing, so when I came back I realized what he was doing and I began putting the other pieces together. So I laid down that rhythm track before the show, and he figured out his rhyme schemes and patterns on that, and when I came back and heard the rough skeleton of what he was doing, we completed it.”
DJ Head Ponders Studio Tricks Dr. Dre Taught Him
Even though he was often in the studio with Eminem, DJ Head says that he did not spend a lot of time working with Dr. Dre. Nonetheless, they worked together on a D12 track.
“Dre actually helped me mix ‘Shit On You,’ DJ Head says. “He didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know, but there were a couple tricks in terms of mixing that I’m still pondering. Like when he made ‘Guilty Conscience,’ I was trying to figure out how the hell he got the drums out of the sample.”
Even though he had worked with Eminem for several years before he became popular, DJ Head says that he did not think Eminem would become the superstar that he is.
“None of us was picturing that,” he says. “Ever. We would work a day job and that was how we let off steam. I didn’t feel like he was really blowing up until around The Marshall Mathers LP. Like, ‘Damn, this shit is huge.’ The TRLs and all of that. You’re actually on MTV. You’re actually at the Grammys. You’re actually at the AMAs. And Detroit isn’t a super media hub, so that’s why it wasn’t any kind of Hollywood thing. None of us thought, coming where we came from, that all that would happen.”