Photographer Jonathan Mannion on Shooting Eminem’s ‘Marshall Mathers LP’: ‘It Was Divine Sh-t’

Photographer Jonathan Mannion on Shooting Eminem’s ‘Marshall Mathers LP’: ‘It Was Divine Sh-t’

Saturday (Could 23) marks the 20th anniversary of Eminem’s third album, The Marshall Mathers LP. His magnum opus not solely shattered data on the Billboard 200 (debuted at No. 1 with a whopping 1.78 million copies its opening week) however highlighted his skills as a uncooked and gifted storyteller. With Em trying to make clear his real-life persona of Marshall Mathers, he employed famed photographer Jonathan Mannion to assist seize his imaginative and prescient.

Mannion, who beforehand shot legendary album covers reminiscent of Jay-Z’s 1996 Cheap Doubt and DMX’s 1998 Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, relished the duty of teaming up with one among rap’s polarizing acts due to their commonalities. Like Eminem, Mannion was a younger, hungry inventive from the Midwest, whose affinity for hip-hop ran deep, courting again to DJ Quik’s debut single, “Born and Raised in Compton.” 

Em and Mannion’s tag-team expanded to over two continents. Not solely did they shoot photographs for MMLP in Amsterdam but additionally Detroit. From the pizza store that Eminem used to work at to even his outdated childhood residence the place he sat on the steps for the album’s basic cowl artwork, nothing was off-limits.

“It was nice,” remembers Mannion of the shoot in from of Em’s outdated home. “It was him in his factor and delivering his journey. You recognize, the standard nature of him and his means of attending to be this megastar, which is rooted so clearly in expertise. His expertise and his relentless drive was it. “

Mannion spoke to Billboard in regards to the 20th anniversary of The Marshall Mathers LP, the place the album cowl ranks in his assortment and Em’s dedication to delivering the very best photographs. 

What does the quantity 20 imply for you having been concerned within the Marshall Mathers LP?

It is actually onerous to place into phrases how necessary this album is for the world, for Eminem (and) for me. There’s an infinite quantity of tales. We shot in Amsterdam and Detroit. Initially, this album was meant to be referred to as Amsterdam. I used to be like, “We now have to go to Amsterdam. We now have to all get on a airplane and go there. That is the one means we’re doing this album.” He occurred to be performing on the market and mentioned, “That is going to sync up completely.”

We did an exceptional session on the market — actually poured out hearts into it. Then, I believe there was a realization that he wished to current this trifecta of who he was: Slim Shady, Marshall Mathers and Eminem. That is how genius this man is. He is considering farther down the highway to have the ability to craft these variations of himself. Slim Shady was the gimmick to get everybody’s consideration, which was nonetheless rooted in one thing phenomenal.

Then, he was like, “Let me inform you about my journey. Let me permit myself to be weak throughout the house and ship ‘me’ and the way I actually obtained right here [with] my struggles, my ache,” and I believe that is when all people actually linked with him on a special stage. It wasn’t simply this pop phenomenon that he was rooted in reverence for the tradition. He clearly felt like he needed to show himself most likely greater than the subsequent MC simply because he was from Detroit and a white boy. He had one thing to show and he was medical on the album, delivering masterpiece after masterpiece.

When it was time to dig into who Marshall Mathers was, we needed to do one other session in Detroit. So we flew to Detroit to form of proceed [the shoot]. It form of grew to become this good steadiness of Amsterdam and all of those lax medication legal guidelines and all of those experimental moments that he was pursuing at the moment to form of floor himself. We shot exterior the pizza store that he used to work at with those who he nonetheless knew from there.

I keep in mind you mentioned in a previous interview that you just shot him in his boxers and trench coat within the freezing chilly in direction of the tip of the shoot.

It is dedication. I used to be with him solely, pushing and wanting extra, however he one-upped me on this session. We did that and I used to be like, “OK. He’ll be drained.” He is in boxer shorts, fight boots and a trench coat being the fullness of the character that he was presenting as this Amsterdam model of Em. He pushed it and I used to be like, “Man, that is unimaginable. What we achieved out right here was past comprehension. I can not watch for once we get again to see the session and undergo it.”

He was like, “Man, I used to be considering I need to do yet one more shot. Can we return to the lodge? I need to be in my lodge room writing to my daughter.” Often, I am the one begging rappers to go somewhat bit farther as a result of I need to give them the world, however it flipped on me. It wasn’t begrudgingly that I went there to that place. I used to be like, “I am with this. Thanks.” It made one other actually phenomenal picture that we obtained to share with the world due to that effort.

In the present day 20 years in the past, Eminem launched his basic & one the best album ever “The Marshall Mathers LP” pic.twitter.com/5Tl0zyn1u1

— Eminem Information (@EmSlimShadyNews) Could 23, 2020

In 2012, you listed the Marshall Mathers LP as your second favourite album cowl that you just labored on behind Jay-Z’s Cheap Doubt. Are you continue to going with that 1-2 combo in 2020?

The total session that I did for Eminem — the truth that it is two shoots and two ideas — I do not know. It may need moved into the highest spot. Eminem was actually my first album cowl that has such a candy spot and clearly Jay’s run was subsequent stage, however man, it could be a tie for first. I may need to provide it a tie in 2020.

What was the method of getting Eminem shoot exterior of his home for the album cowl? 

It was nice. It was actually him in his factor and actually delivering his journey. You recognize, the standard nature of him and his means of attending to be this megastar, which is de facto rooted so clearly in expertise. His expertise and his relentless drive was it.

No person was actually residing in that home. It was simply funky and crap within the yard, however it was good to see him stroll these footsteps. He form of went into a special psychological place. He confirmed up somewhat bit late as a result of we have been dropping mild, however it was the final shot that we wanted to do. I went again to create at the present time’s work of footage and he confirmed up. I mentioned, “Come on, man. Let’s get proper into it as a result of we will lose mild.” He form of simply sat down and centered. It was comparatively fast, however I nonetheless shot perhaps 20-30 rolls of movie, even in a 20-30 minute second ‘trigger I used to be capturing items nearly like somewhat puzzle factor that I used to be going to place collectively.

It is a picture that I liked and I actually fought for to be the duvet. There have been like, “Nah, it is form of too artsy.” I used to be like, “OK.” [Laughs]. Then, I went proper into the airport. I flew within the morning, we knocked some stuff out within the afternoon and I used to be the subsequent day as a result of deadlines have been occurring and I wanted to return and design it.

Eminem’s basic album #MarshallMathersLP turns 20 immediately

– Nearly 50% album self-produced


– Licensed diamond by the RIAA (10 mill offered in US)


– Over 25 million copies offered worldwide


– Gained Finest Rap Album on the ’01 Grammy Awards


– Featured the groundbreaking track ‘Stan’ pic.twitter.com/uCfLIyNNPb

— HipHop-N-Extra (@HipHopNMore) Could 23, 2020

Which songs from the album caught with you essentially the most?

I keep in mind going to a live performance. I believe Redman was performing. It was in Detroit and we have been in a limo and [Eminem] performed me the entire album. It was simply us, most likely simply ingesting and on our solution to his live performance. I keep in mind him hanging off this balcony and he is holding his belt loop. Like he had a belt on and I am like, “This motherf—er goes to fall off of right here.” He was so hyped. He loves music. I used to be like, “Let me not let this dude fall from the balcony into the gang and have this be it.”

Actually, everything of the album, the sequence of the album, I keep in mind extra on this second than a person monitor. I must take a look at it, however I simply keep in mind that drive the place we had a chance to hearken to the album. It was divine shit. That is one that’s going to face as a whole thought as a result of there’s nothing to essentially skip over.

When you can choose one phrase that greatest encapsulates this album 20 years later, what phrase would that be?

As a phrase that grew to become a phrase that sticks for all of his followers, just like the those who go somewhat too onerous due to the love that they’ve for him, I’d most likely say Stan. It was a phrase he crafted to imply one thing else. Like a fan of the acute stage. Clearly, Stans can go over the sting somewhat bit, however I would say once you’re a Stan for one thing, you are simply an extremely super-fan and I am actually that of him, his work and his drive. It is nice to see this undertaking age 20 years and to nonetheless have the identical that means and the identical feeling that he supposed for it to have from the onset.





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