Photographer Danny Hasting reflects on working with a young Em.
Anybody who owns a physical copy of Eminem's The Slim Shady LP, or has otherwise scoured the internet for a peek at the liner notes, likely recognizes the work of photographer Danny Hastings. The back of the leaflet is particularly memorable, in which Em rocks a blood-spattered white tee shirt, standing excited beside a cartoonish windowsill. The pictures helped bring Em's zany, maniacal vision to life, capturing the spirit of an unhinged yet childlike genius. Now, with Em's #SSLP20 campaign in full promotional swing, Danny Hastings has offered a few words on his experiences working with an emerging Eminem.
"Up until then, the majority of rappers I felt were very self conscious," he explains, via Em's website. "There were certain things a rapper would not do for the camera in the 90’s. They never made fun of themselves. Em was not afraid of looking silly for visual support of his music. He got serious when he needed to get serious and fun when he needed to get fun... He was young and new to the game and because I shot a bunch of his heroes, he was willing to try anything for the shot. I was like: "put this light on your head, trust me it's gonna be dope", and Em was like "lets do it”. Em was a blank canvas, I got to create some great imagery with him."
When asked about his inspiration for his photoshoot, Hastings recalls drawing from Em's own twisted storytelling. "His lyrics. His lyrics inspired the photography techniques I used," he reveals. "I wanted to do something different. I wanted to show the fans that we were inside the mind of a lyrical maniacal genius." He also shares some of the similarities and differences with working with Em today. "It's waaaaayyyyy different now, and rightfully so. He is one of the most important music artist of the century. He put in the work and came on top. When I shot the first album he just showed up with Paul, I think they cabbed it to the studio. Today it’s a big production. Creatively he is always open, he is a lot of fun to work with."