For artists of any stripe, creativity has the potential to strike at any moment. For a major label star like Eminem at the start of his career, that usually meant hitting up a recording studio, finding an engineer, and laying his parts down on tape. It’s typically a smooth process. But back when the Detroit superstar was working out the third, climactic verse to his song “Stan,” he hit a major snag.
In a lengthy annotation for the site Genius, Shady recounts how an out-of-his-mind high recording engineer almost ruined his now iconic track. “This particular engineer I had never worked with before,” Eminem noted. “While we were recording the third verse of ‘Stan,’ he started rolling a joint and asked me if I minded if he smoked while we cut. What was I gonna do? Say no? He was already rolling it so I told him ‘No problem.'”
As it turned out, that green light to toke up turned out to be a major issue later. “I had gotten all the way to the last 3 lines and I screwed up so all he had to do was punch in my vocals at the end so I could re-do that line and the verse was finished,” Em explained. “So I’m in the booth waiting and he backs the tape up all the way to the beginning of the verse and punches me in. I realize he’s in the wrong spot and I can’t hear any of my vocals so I start waving my arms and yelling in the mic to try to get his attention. He doesn’t notice so I run into the control room through a cloud of smoke and yell ‘Yo, I wanted to keep those vocals’ he just looked at me and said ‘My bad man…you wanna hit this?'”
This was a major issue, because as Eminem was recording what would become The Marshall Mathers LP, he was using two-inch tape, meaning that if you recorded a part over another part, the original was lost forever. Of course, Shady went back in and did his parts all over again, but as he said on Genius, “You should have heard the original take that shit was WAY better…oh well!”