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Eminem esplains surprise Oscars performance

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Eminem says his surprise performance during Sunday night's Academy Awards show was about having one shot at a second chance.

The Detroit rapper shocked the crowd in Los Angeles and the viewing audience with a live performance of his multi-platinum 2002 hit -- the end credit song for his hit film "8 Mile" -- at the end of a segment celebrating iconic movie songs. The song won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2003, but Eminem was not on hand to accept it, with co-writer Luis Resto taking the trophy and making the acceptance speech.

Sunday's moment became an instant Internet sensation, especially the varied reactions, ranging from enjoyment to confusion, from the celebrities in the audience. After his performance Eminem tweeted a video of Barbra Streisand announcing the win 17 years ago along with the message, "Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity... Thanks for having me... Sorry it took me 18 years to get here."

In a subsequent interview with Variety, Eminem said that he did not skip the 2003 ceremony because he would his performance of the song would have been censored -- as it was portions of Sunday's performance were silenced in the broadcast due to profanity

"I kinda figured maybe since I didn't get a chance to do it at the time, maybe it would be cool," he said about the invitation to perform this year. "Back then I never even thought that I had a chance to win, and we had just performed 'Lose Yourself' on the Grammys with The Roots a couple of weeks before the Oscars, so we didn't think it was a good idea. And also, back at that time, the younger me didn't really feel like a show like (the Oscars) would understand me.

"But then when I found out I won, 'That's crazy!' That to me shows how authentic and real that award is -- when you don't show up and you still win. That makes it very real to me."

Eminem added that he didn't regret missing the 2003 ceremony, however. "I don't know that I was disappointed. I was blown back by the fact that I won. I don't even think I understood back then that you could get an Oscar for a song, and I remember being kinda confused about why I was even up for one, because as a kid with the Oscars, it was like a vacuum."

Sales of "Lose Yourself" were up 1,894 percent after the performance, with 4,000 downloads according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. Eminem's catalog sales in general rose 307 percent, with 7,000 combined downloads on Sunday.

On NBC's "Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" on Monday, Feb. 10, Roots drummer Questlove, who was the house DJ at the Oscars, spoke about how his dressing room was positioned next to "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda's, but over the course of the night he noticed an unusually large number of security guards around the door. It turned out that was where Oscar producers stashed Eminem prior to his performance to maintain the surprise.

Eminem -- who released his latest album, "Music to be Murdered By," on Jan. 17 -- also used the ceremony as a chance to reunite with his friend Elton John, who won this year's Best Original Song for "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" the biopic "Rocketman." Eminem, who attended fellow rapper 50 Cent's star ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week, tweeted a photo of the two together backstage with the message I got to see my Uncle Elton tonight at the Oscars. Congrats on your win too, Sir!

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