In this first look at ''The Way I Am,'' the Grammy-winning rapper comes to terms with his anger issues, including his bout with Moby at the MTV Video Music Awards

By EW Staff
Updated October 18, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT
Scott Gries/Getty Images

I’ve always had issues with my temper.

When I look back at myself during those years when everything was blowing up, I think maybe at first I was a little, you know, too aggressive and loud. It was like I had this voice and I had to be heard. ”Don’t f— with me,” to the point where people must have been wondering, Why is this dude so angry? Is he on crack? Is he on crystal meth? I go back and see old interviews and even now I wonder, Why was I so hyper?

I went through a phase back then when I was shooting pistols in the air behind the studio and, you know, pulling guns out, pointing a pistol in somebody’s face, not even realizing that I could’ve gone to jail for that s—.

Back then I was living on a main road, Hayes Street, and random people used to come and knock on my door all the time. The first album had gone four times platinum. I finally had some money. I remember thinking, I have a house, I can park in back. It was the first time in my life I’d had a real home that I could call my own and nobody was going to be able to throw me out. Directly across the street there was a trailer park. Wouldn’t you know it? Sometimes kids would sit and wait for me to come out.

Other times they didn’t even bother to wait. They would just come and bang on the door. The doorbell kept ringing. I was starting to lose it. As soon as I would open the front door the camera flashes would go off. They’d start clapping. I was losing my mind. I got up in one kid’s face with a pistol. Unloaded, but still. Was that the right thing to do?

Hell, no. But my temper was out of control. Thank God I was in enough control to not do something tragic. I had to move out of there before I wound up hurting somebody.

My mood can change quickly. It’s always been that way. When I was drinking, I could be in a good mood — just loving everybody and feeling like everything was great — then somebody would say the wrong s— to me, and before you knew it there was nothing my bodyguards could do to stop me from reacting and at least punching, spitting, or kicking a few times before they could get to me. It would be the simplest s— that would set me off, like somebody looking at me hard. And I could not stop until I felt like I’d done something to make that person accountable, to make that person learn his lesson. Afterward, I would be full of apologies, just saying ”I’m sorry” over and over. I’d feel like such an idiot for acting like that. Like, Why can’t I control this?

You all saw the Triumph thing go down at the MTV Video Music Awards, right? That’s a pretty perfect example. I mean, there I am, sitting in my seat, and they announce that I’m up for an award, presented by Christina Aguilera. I had said some things about her in the past, Moby had said some things about me, and I had said some things back about him. So I’m sitting there next to Proof, and they bring in Moby and sit him like two rows directly behind us. So now I’m like, Okay, what’s going on? What are they trying to do? I’ve got Moby behind me, and Christina up onstage, and then this dog puppet gets up in my face. I’d been so busy touring and doing my own s— that I hadn’t had time to watch TV, so I had no idea what that dog was. All I saw was Moby and Christina and this dude who’s sticking his hand in my face, trying to be funny. I didn’t even see the puppet, you know? My natural reaction was, ”Get the f— out of my face. Get your f—ing hand out of my face.” And that’s when I kind of lost it and a half. I should have kept my composure, but instead I stuck my fingers basically on Moby’s nose. Right in his face, like, ”F— you.”

When they told me I won the award, I went up there and gave Christina a hug, because there wasn’t a real beef with her. I was just dissing her to separate myself ’cause I didn’t want to be classified as a pop artist. When I hugged her, I thought I was being as mature as I could be. But when I got behind closed doors in the green room, I threw a fit. There was a cooler with drinks in it, and I asked if anybody wanted to grab a water or something. Nobody did. So I picked up the cooler and threw it against the wall and kind of f—ed up the whole room, basically.

NEXT PAGE: ”A lot of people in my family had screws loose because of abuse. If you go back and look at the abuse that I took, it’s no surprise I became who I am.”

Excerpted from The Way I Am by Eminem with Sacha Jenkins. Published by arrangement with Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) 2008 by Marshall B. Mathers III.