8 Mile - DVD Launch Event
One of the things that was very clear from the get go was: good rap isn't as easy to do as it may seem, and a good rapper isn't always a good rap battler. If you aren't familiar with a rap battle, it's very similar to a boxing match, rather than exchanging jabs and hooks, each rap battler has around forty five seconds to spin lyrical attacks against their opponent. The poorer battles tend to sound a lot like gangster rap with a lot of talk of gun play and violence. The real talented rap battlers are much sharper spinning assaults on everything from the way someone is dressed, their lack of rap ability, height, weight, anything and everything is fair game. Some of the spins are so clever and so biting that they whip the crowd into a round of whoops and hollers; others, so bad the crowd will boo and yell. The winner of a round in a rap battle is determined by audience shouting and applause, so the best rap battlers tend to be able to both jab at their opponent while still playing to the crowd.
Marvin 'Fat Killaz' O'Neil - Deleted but Undefeated
"It was a shot where I was spinning it and Eminem was supposed to just pantomime his response", recalls O'Neil. "But he clicked on his mic and spun it back. He must have thought what I said was worthy enough to respond... He's the best out there, there's none better."
You can get a great look at the auditions for the rap battles, and the scenes cut from the film on the 8 Mile DVD. It's under the special features section under the heading 'The Rap Battles'.
Eminem co-star Mekhi Phifer was very excited about the DVD release of the film. Taking a break from his regular gig on ER, Mekhi talked about his great experience on 8 Mile and his enjoyment with working with both Eminem and Curtis Hansen. "He's a Pro", Mekhi describes Eminem. "It was great working with him, he has a real energy that comes off well on screen." Phifer, who spoke a lot about how much freedom Curtis Hansen gave to the rappers on the set, described an environment where rappers were free to ad lib, something they enjoyed but struggled with as they had to keep it fresh take after take. Phifer, who has appeared in a number of films including Spike Lee's Clockers, Soul Food and "O", is a big fan of DVD, among his favorites are: Cool Hand Luke, The Usual Suspects, Godfather Trilogy and Goodfellas.
Proof said it was a real adjustment working with Curtis Hansen who didn't have a lot of experience or exposure to the Detroit rap scene. "Many of us were new to acting and Hansen was new to our scene so we were all learning together." He was very pleased at the outcome, especially a lyrical easter egg of sorts. "In my rap against Em, I say 'I'll Punish Rabbit or Obsolete Future', he sits there for a second grinning widely at me before exclaiming "PROOF!". One of the nice things about the 8 Mile DVD is that it does have an English subtitle track; seeing the words used by the rappers in the rap battle scenes enhances them. Another reporter asked Proof which he thought was more important, money or fame, and Proof quickly responded back, "Respect, that's what it's all about... Respect".
Universal Studios Home Video EVP Marketing Ken Graffeo
Graffeo talked a lot about the process for getting the content for the 8 Mile DVD. "Hansen had shot a lot of footage for a montage that was going to be at the end of the movie, but it had to be cut for time, so we knew then it would be a perfect fit for the DVD. Then after its release in the theaters Mathers was very happy with how the movie turned out so he wanted to come back in and give his thoughts on the movie, his character and how it related to the real experience of growing up near 8 Mile."
The Main Show - The Detroit 12 (D-12), Eminem and Xzibit
Eminem didn't step out into the spotlight as he joined his fellow Detroit Rappers (D-12) to rap two songs from the 8 Mile soundtrack including the Academy Award nominated song 'Lose Yourself'. At first, he sort of snuck on stage to do some of the background vocals for one of D-12's songs. The only way you'd know he was on stage was by the huge cheer from the crowd. I never got the sence that Eminem was there to bask in the glow of his superstardom.
After D-12 wrapped their set, Xzibit, another rapper from the 8 Mile film, came on and gave an electrifying performance. During songs he spoke proudly about his own Detroit roots and the Detroit scene. Throughout the night I spoke to a number of Detroit rappers, all of whom seemed to really enjoy the 8 Mile DVD Launch Party, for in many ways it was less about the release of a new DVD and much more a celebration of a music scene that launched rappers like Eminem and that, for many rap hopefuls, will be a breeding ground for the next big rapper.
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