Sunday 17th of November at the Renaissance Hotel in Heathrow,
Gigsoup had the opportunity to sit down with Mekhi Phifer. The Harlem born is
actor is well known for his role in the TV show ‘ER’ and also for his role in
the movie ‘Paid in Full’ which gave him huge recognition as it’s considered an
urban classic. Most notably, Mekhi is known for his co-star role in ‘8 Mile’
the biopic based on Eminem’s earlier life prior to fame. In the movie he played
Future, a rap battle host and friend/mentor of Eminem’s character B-Rabbit. ‘8
Mile’ was directed by Curtis Hanson and starred some other Hollywood
heavyweight names such as Brittany Murphy, Kim Basinger, Michael Shannon and
boasted cameos from Xzibit, Obie Trice and Proof from D12, whom Future was loosely
based on. In its first week the film brought in over fifty million dollars and
the worldwide gross came to just under two hundred and fifty million dollars. It
was an instant success and reflected what Eminem represented, from being a
struggling white rapper to partaking in underground rap battles. The movie was
shot in Detroit and captured the essence of the city that now stands mostly derelict
and a shadow of its former self. Although the city has seen dire times it has
birthed some of the most profound and deep music that many generations from
around the world have been inspired by. Mekhi was also mentioned in the song ‘Lose
Yourself’ a track that Eminem cut on the set of ‘8 Mile’, in the third verse Em
can be heard saying “And it’s no movie, there’s no Mekhi Phifer” the song went
on to win multiple awards and become number one in several countries.
the past weekend Mekhi attended an event held by Starfury Conventions where he spoke
on panels, signed autographs and took photos with fans. At one point he even
shot a video for a fan congratulating his friend on his recent engagement.
Mekhi is very interactive with his fans and approachable. Starfury Event’s
host, organiser and owner Sean Harry helped to get Gigsoup some time with Mekhi
for the interview, be sure to check their website out to see what upcoming
shows they have.
‘8 Mile’ was
released 17 years ago, it was wildly successful and a pivotal point for Hip-Hop,
what is it like to for you to look back and reflect on that after so much time?
Man it was a
great time, you know. Eminem was doing his thing, well he’s still doing his
thing I mean, but, he was probably the biggest music star in the world at the
time. We were working with a great director, Curtis Hanson, who’s recently
passed. And being in Detroit, I never spent that much time there and it was
really my first time being in Detroit and to have that energy of the city and
to have everybody be a part of that, it was wonderful man, it’s hard to put
Did you have
any idea at the time that it’d be as huge as it was?
there’s no way you could you know? I didn’t even know how big the battles were
going to be in the way they were received. All of the extras that were in the
shelter where we were doing the battles, they really helped to take that to the
next level because they were really participating in it and hearing it for the
first time, the reactions you see from the crowd are real. Nobody could have
guessed that it’d be as big as it was, we knew that we were making something
special but, to see it all come together was when we were like “oh wow, this
could be something huge” and for it to make almost 55 million dollars the first
weekend was just unprecedented. So you know, we were making some history, yeah.
anything that happened behind the scenes of 8 mile that has stuck with you,
something funny or something meaningful that really stuck in your mind?
Oh, so many
things. I mean, we hung out all the time we used to go to Eminem’s house, we
were all young guys, single and having fun so while we worked we also partied
and went to clubs you know, we met tonnes of girls, tonnes, you know, we had a
lot of fun with that. And so, we just had so many jokes between takes. One
thing I do remember is when he made the song Lose Yourself, because Em had three
trailers, he had his main trailer, he had a studio trailer also and then he had
a gym, a trailer that was just a gym so we would go in there and work out and
stuff. One day we were at lunch and Em came through and he said “Listen guys, I
think I’ve got the song for the movie” and he said “Mekhi, I put your name it”
so I was like “Really?” So we all piled into the studio trailer, and he started
playing the music and it was that crunchy guitar you know? We said “oh wow this
is hot” and he hadn’t mixed or mastered it yet, but we were listening to it and
he said that “no Mekhi Phifer” and we were like “Woahh!” So it was like a
really fun atmosphere, all of us that were in our crew we really bonded you
know? And we’re all still friends to this day.
You were in ‘Paid
in Full’ amongst many legendary names, including on the soundtrack, what was
great man, I didn’t really work on the soundtrack but you know we had Cam’ron
in the movie and Noreaga from Capone-N-Noreaga, but I didn’t work on the
soundtrack but I love the soundtrack though, it brought me back because I’m from Harlem, I’m from that world,
so it brought me back to that time growing up. The music in ‘Paid in Full’,
even the title was a song by Eric-B and Rakim, it was a huge song when I was a
kid. And the guys we were portraying, I had always heard about you know, but I wasn’t running the streets
then I was a kid, but I’d always heard about them so to be able to portray
those guys was definitely an honour and we had to get it right. We had to do it
So we’re a
few months out from the 2020’s, do you have big plans?
taking my wife out of the country to a private island for New Years, for
Christmas and New Year, Other than that not really man. I’m working up until we
break for Christmas on the show that I’m doing ‘Love, Simon’ for ‘Disney +’ but
that’s probably my biggest plan is just going on a little vacation.
So it’s your
first time at Starfury, what do you think?
yeah they were wonderful man, Starfury really took good care of me, you know
make sure things are moving smoothly. So I look forward to working with them in
is a big fan of you and the show, and wanted to know what it was like to go on ‘Shade
Oh yeah it
was great, yeah I’ve done that show and it was great, my guy sway and all those
guys over there we have a lot of fun and we go way back so it’s like seeing a
brother that I haven’t seen in a long time and just see what’s going on, be
yourself and shoot the s**t for lack of a better term. It’s a lot of fun.
Yeah, we’re talking
about an interview right now with Jude Angelini so we’ll let him know that we’ve
interviewed Mekhi Phifer.
dope, tell him I said “What’s up” that’s all good.
last of the questions as I know you’re on a tight schedule, is there anything
you’d like to add about what you’re up to?
Ah yeah I’ve
got my show coming out on December 6th called ‘The Truth be Told’ on
‘Apple +’ so you know, just look out for that.
thank you so much, we appreciate it.
With multiple shows on the way on various platforms and a big group of friends in the Hip-Hop world, Mekhi Phifer is somebody definitely worth keeping an eye on. If it’s been a while then definitely take an ‘8 Mile’ revisit, for a movie almost two decades old, it holds up well, hits just as hard and makes you fall in love with the craft of lyricism and flow all over again.