In 1997, having left Death Row the previous year to form Aftermath alongside Jimmy Iovine, Dr Dre desperately sought an artist to collaborate with and help produce. Sieving through demos and magazines to discover a hidden gem, thanks to an A&R who had attended the LA Battle Rap Olympics, Young ended up with the demo of the iconic Eminem.
Eminem’s lyricism, tongue-twisting rhymes and abundance of wit immediately perked the Compton native’s ears up, and he became eager to work with the Detroit rapper. With plans for the artist, Dre quickly signed him to his label, and before long, the pair were in the studio. As partners in crime, the two made history, with Dr Dre handling the production side of things and Eminem (real name Marshall Mathers) behind the microphone. They soon took over the airwaves as a duo with an incredible synergy.
As individuals, Eminem and Dr Dre have received copious amounts of critical acclaim and accolades over the years. Both have been recognised for their contributions to hip-hop, respectively. Young and Mathers have, together, won Grammys over the years for their bodies of work.
However, there was one hit record Dre wished never to receive a Grammy. Furthermore, he would have instead had it been disregarded and kept in the vault. He even the Grammy win was itself a loss of sorts.
Dr Dre, akin to many artists, has been more than happy to scold the Grammys publicly. The award ceremony has always been a contentious issue for musicians, especially those who feel that the institution focuses more on sales and public opinion than actual quality.
The Chronic rapper has previously revealed that on one occasion, he felt that he and Mathers were not given the recognition they deserved. The body of work Young felt was unfairly disregarded is The Marshall Mathers LP. Released in 2000, the LP was Eminem’s breakout project, putting him firmly in the spotlight. Put out via Aftermath Entertainment; it was the Detroit act’s second major label release. Although the record earned the pair a Grammy in the ‘Best Rap Album’ category, Young still felt they were snubbed.
Despite receiving an award in the rap category, Dre believes it was the worthy winner for ‘Album Of The Year’ too. This lack of credit angered Dre. Speaking with the online publication Access Hollywood, the former Death Row producer bluntly stated, “To be perfectly honest, I think we were robbed!” Speaking with the magazine, Young explained how he believes that Mathers’ shocking style, questionable lyrics and legal issues brewed fear within the establishment. Detailing how the Grammy’s are fearful of public scrutiny, the 2001 creator explained, “It was probably something the Grammys had to do because of the backlash that they were going to get from giving him the award.”
However, in a bid to combat Dre’s claims, the then-president of the National Academy of Records Arts & Sciences, Michael Greene, refuted this narrative declaring, “I don’t think the content of Eminem’s album had anything to do with it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been nominated or won the other Grammys. The voters truly don’t care what the critics think or how they’re perceived. They’re very independent.”
But aside from The Marshall Mathers LP, there are other gripes that the ‘Still D.R.E’ rapper has with the Grammys. Speaking with the renowned magazine VIBE in 2010, Young explained how Eminem’s comeback album, Relapse, was ruined by fans and the academy. The project’s biggest hit, ‘Crack A Bottle’, broke Billboard’s digital download record. Furthermore, it shot up to number one on the charts. However, according to Young, the body of work’s entire rollout was a shambles. One made worse by the Grammys.
Dre views ‘Crack A Bottle’ with contempt because the song was illegally leaked when it first debuted, and both he and Mathers were deciding what to do with it. Talking to VIBE about the track, the Compton producer unveiled, “First of all, we weren’t even going to release the song. We won a Grammy for it, but I’m not even considering putting the Grammy up. The way it came, it doesn’t mean the same to me. We didn’t get a chance to do the song with our hearts in it because we had to go in and rush it out. We went in one day and finished it at least so people could hear a proper version, but we didn’t get to put our heart and soul in it.”
As the producer of the song, Dre harshly revealed that the Grammy win for the unpolished track was “like a stab in the stomach.” Dre isn’t the only artist that has an issue with the Grammys. In fact, everybody under the Aftermath label has a problem with the institution including 50 Cent and Mathers himself. In a 2018 interview with radio host Sway Calloway, Eminem insisted he would never attend the Grammys again explaining, “Every f*cking year. I’m tired of seeing it. For whatever reason, they’re always pitching this hint that you might win album of the year, which used to be a big deal. I don’t think it’s a big deal now. I sat at home for the Grammys this year and watched Jay and Kendrick not get it, and I felt like one of them should have got it.” Watch Mathers speaking about his disdain for the Grammys in the video below.