For nearly 20 years, Eminem and Elton John have been one of pop’s oddest couples, seemingly polar opposites who first joined forces in a show of anti-homophobic solidarity at the Grammy Awards in 2001. John recently interview his friend for Interview magazine, which for years was edited by John’s close friend, the late Ingrid Sischy, that was published today. In it, Eminem says surprisingly little about his new album but expands upon his relationship with Dr. Dre, manager (and incoming CEO of Def Jam Records) Paul Rosenberg, and the creative process.

I’ve been working on it for over a year. You know how it is—you make songs, and as you make the new ones, the old ones get old and you throw them out. The album is called Revival. It’s a reflection of where I’m at right now, but also I feel like what I tried to do was diversify. I’ve tried to make a little something for everyone.

Getting clean made me grow up. I feel like all the years that I was using, I wasn’t growing as a person.

I remember one of the first times I went out to L.A. I met Dre and Jimmy [Iovine] at Interscope, and it felt so ridiculous and so far-fetched that this was happening. When Dre walked in, it was like an out-of-body experience. Nothing in my life had been going right for me, but he put me up in the Oakwood apartments and paid my rent so I could record with him. There was a period when I stayed up writing for 48 hours straight and ended up crashing at, like, six in the morning. I wanted to be prepared for Dre because I thought, “If I’m not ready for every aspect of this, this could be it for me.” … That first time in the studio we did three or four songs in, like, six hours, and with any beat he threw on, I either had to rhyme to it or write something right there. From that day forward, he started showing me things that I didn’t know I could do with my voice. We did a song called “Role Model,” and it went, “Don’t you wanna grow up to be just like me?” And he just kept going “Nah, do it again. Do it again.” So I would do it again and again until finally I’m screaming, and he goes, “Yeah, there you go. That’s it.”

He and I go at it during the making of every album, and sometimes we’re on the same page and sometimes we’re not. He’s usually right about it, though. It’s just hard when you’ve spent so much time on something, writing and recording, laying the vocals, getting the hook right, getting the beat right, making everything sound right—you spent a freaking week trying to make it sound perfect, and someone comes along and shoots it down.

It was about having the right to stand up to oppression. I mean, that’s exactly what the people in the military and the people who have given their lives for this country have fought for—for everybody to have a voice and to protest injustices and speak out against shit that’s wrong. We’re not trying to disrespect the military, we’re not trying to disrespect the flag, we’re not trying to disrespect our country. But shit is going on that we want to make you aware of. We have a president who does not care about everybody in our country; he is not the president for all of us, he is the president for some of us. He knows what he’s doing. … As long as he’s got his base, he does not give a fuck about anybody else in America. But guess what? There’s more of us than there are of them. I still feel like America is the greatest country to live in. This is my opinion. But we have issues that we need to work on and we need to do better.