The rapper who allegedly discovered Eminem before Dr Dre
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The rapper who allegedly discovered Eminem before Dr Dre

The Black Mafia Family (BMF) was a highly potent and extremely shady crew. Founded by two brothers from Detroit in the late-1990s, the name was one shrouded in drug money and murder. The label’s only artist was Bleu DaVinci, a rapper who worked for Priority Records, and according to the emcee (real name Barima McKnight), he presented The Slim Shady EP to an A&R at the label after watching Eminem perform live in San Francisco.

McKnight had worked with his cousin Rass Kass on his 1996 debut album, Soul On Ice, released on Priority Records. Due to his extreme talent as a producer, Bleu DaVinci stayed with his cousin at the label and knew all the higher-ups aged only 16. However, as a hip-hop fan and with his ear to the streets after hearing Eminem perform at San Francisco’s Maritime Hall, he brought Eminem to the then-label head Andrew Shack long before Dr Dre knew he existed.

In an interview with Cam Capone News, McKnight exclaimed, “I know how the whole label run at 16 years old,” the former BMF rapper said. “I brought fucking Slim Shady, Eminem to him, on my mama, anybody. Ask the Jewish man Andrew Shack. I brought Eminem to that first before Dr Dre signed him!”

He continued, “Me and Ras Kass was finna go to New York and just came from Maritime Hall in the Bay, and I just watched Eminem perform for the first time, I took his tape and took him straight to the fucking head of A&R Andrew Shack. He was the head of A&R, and then he became Vice President. He was the n*gga that signed n*ggas!”

But according to McKnight, Shack was preoccupied with the soundtrack of the 1997 hip-hop documentary Rhyme & Reason, stating, “He was in the middle of doing the Rhyme & Reason soundtrack, and I brought him, Eminem!” Shortly after Dr Dre signed him, Shack apparently said to McKnight, “Dr Dre signed him. Why didn’t you tell me?’ I said I did tell you, muthafucka. He the hardest muthafuckin’ white boy I ever seen rapping in my life. That’s why I brought him in here,”

He continued, “I didn’t have to bring this shit in here … I was just 16. They wasn’t respecting my gangsta.” Bleu DaVinci is one of the few figures involved in the scheme of BMF who never got arrested as, during the mid-2000s, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the US Department of Treasury began arresting and sentencing BMF kingpins for money laundering and drug trafficking.

Bleu DaVinci is not the only music industry figure who missed out on signing Eminem. Fat Joe has previously admitted that he never got around to listening to Eminem’s demo. Moreover, it was given to him on more than one occasion. You can listen to McKnight explain his discovery in the video below.