Billboard caught up with Oscar-winning producer/songwriter Jeff Bass, a Detroit native who helped Slim Shady pen the prolific song, just in time for this year's ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 26. As one-half of the production team Bass Brothers, with his sibling Mark, Bass produced songs on Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP and lent his production skills and voice to the skits "Public Service Announcement," "Soap Skit" and "Lounge Skit" on the Slim Shady LP.
Read on to learn about Bass’ creative relationship with Em, what he remembers about the moment he won his Oscar and the song’s undying legacy.
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How did you first meet Eminem?
He was already sending people his mixtapes and work, always ready to work and had a passion for it. When we first started out, my brother and I worked with artists who were really serious about the narratives that we were doing. He'd come in and we gave it a shot. We took him in as one of our own and we started grooming him. His work ethic was always impeccable. The kid could work 20 hours a day easily. Me and my brother strived for that and we worked many, many hours. A lot of people couldn't hang with us because we were always constantly working, but Em was a trooper. He was that hungry, so he hung with us the whole time.
When did you realize that the two of you could have a really strong creative relationship?
The first project that we did was the Infinite album [Eminem's 1996 debut], and me and my brother were pretty much executive producers on it, we oversaw the project. It wasn't until the Slim Shady EP that we started to actually put our hands in on the music end of things. Then, for the Slim Shady LP, we were full-fledged writers with Eminem. We used to joke around a lot. He was a jokester and we were jokesters, so we got along really well. I was like the older brother to him.
What was the old studio at 8 Mile like? Can you describe the atmosphere and what it looked like?
It was a two-story building, and the main floor, which was the studio, had a tiny, little control room and two small vocal booths. There was a little section in the center of the studio that was for sitting around, kind of like a lounge in the middle of the whole thing. Not much to it. Then upstairs, there was a two-bedroom apartment which my engineers lived [in] so that they could get to work on time every single day. [Laughs.] [Our building] was covered with wood to make it look a little nicer, but we didn't have any money back then so we just did what we could do. On one side of us was a VCR place and on the other side was this trashy motel. So that's what it looked like, tons of character. But it was quite the trip, and we made some really great music out of that building.