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February 21, 2003 - Image 62

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-02-21

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its Entertainment


Nominated this year for two Grammys and an Oscar,
Jeff Bass of Farmington Hills has reaped the rewards of his music:
stability and a renewed sense of family.

Special to the Jewish News


where the family came together, all of the cousins,"
he says. "It has a lot of childhood memories.
"I can go in there today and still smell the smoke
of my grandfather's cigar."

1 eff Bass likes his new house — make that
his new, big house — the one he and wife
Linda recently built in Farmington Hills.
Lifelong Loves
But the house he loves is his grandparents'
home in Southfield.
Family keeps Bass rooted. And happy.
At 41, Bass is on music's cutting edge, yet his
At this stage of his life, family is clearly more impor-
commitment to family is completely traditional.
tant than another Grammy or two to put on his piano.
In the early '90s, Bass and his younger brother,
Bass attended his award-winning 1999 Grammys
Marky, teamed as the Bass Brothers, and saw the
with Jacob, and went to the ceremonies again in
future in a skinny Detroit kid named Marshall
2001, when the highlight was the performance by
Mathers — better known today as Eminem.
Eminem and Elton John of "Stan," from The
They recorded his first album in their studio, and
Marshall Mathers LP.
now, Jeff Bass' most recent work with Eminem has
While he says some are astonished that he's not
earned him Grammy nominations in two top cate-
going to the awards ceremony this time, he's sur-
gories: as co-producer with Eminem for Record of the
prised they would expect him to attend.
Year, for the song "Without Me," and as co-pro-
ducer with Eminem, Dr. Dre and Denaun Porter g
for Album of the Year, for The Eminem Show. (In
addition, Eminem — who will perform on this • 2. . ,- 1
year's Feb. 23 Grammy telecast from Madison
Square Garden in New York City — is nominat- §
ed for Best Male Rap Solo for "Without Me," a
track from The Eminem Show; for Best Rap
Album for The Eminem Show and for "Best
Short-Form Musical Video for "Without Me").
A month later Bass is up, with Eminem and
Luis Resto, for an Academy Award in the Best
Original Song category, this time as the co-
writer of "Lose Yourself," from the soundtrack of
Eminem's hit movie, 8 Mile, filmed in Detroit.
Winners will be announced March 23 at
Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.
After having shared a Grammy with his broth-
er Marky for producing 1999's Best Rap Album,
The Slim Shady LP, Jeff is the only Bass brother
up for Grammys this time around.
That's because while the brothers had moved
to L.A. in the late '90s, Jeff moved back to

Detroit alone two years ago — to be closer to his
son Jacob — and worked on the The Eminem
Show and "Lose Yourself" without Mar
Jeff Bass: "Musically, In2 still not a big fan of rap, but if there
Despite the excitement surrounding his presti-
a message, if the rapper has something to say, its OK"
gious nominations, Bass is content focusing on
his family — Linda, who is expecting their first
child in early March, and his 13-year-old son, Jacob,
"They say, 'I can't believe you're not going,' but
by a previous marriage.
my baby could be born at any time. I want to be
And then there's that house in Southfield.
with my wife," Bass says.
"For me, it's a sense of holding on to some of my
Music and family have always been integral parts
past," he says, explaining why he just bought the
of Bass' life.
house his grandparents Rhea and the late George
He began to play piano at age 8. His dad, Stuart
Bass lived in, now that Rhea, at 92, has moved out.
Bass (now a Florida resident), bought him his first gui-
He plans to renovate it and rent it out.
tar at Sears. And there was always music in the house.
"It was where all the Shabbos dinners took place,
"My uncle Mickey Cohen was in the retail end of




Ross Music stores and would bring home 45s," Bass
recalls. In fact, Cohen still turns him on to music.
Bass remembers many hours listening to Canada's
CKLW, then the top pop station on the AM dial,
and grooving to the rhythm and blues of the Isley
Brothers, the Commodores and the hometown
Motown sound, as well as the funkier Philly sound.
The smooth vocals and catchy melodies of Burt
Bacharach remain an influence and a favorite.
Bass' regular Shabbat morning attendance with his
late grandfather at the Isaac Agree Downtown
Synagogue, where his grandfather served as presi-
dent, also nurtured his sense of melody.
After graduating from Oak Park High School in
1979, Bass joined with some high-school friends, all
African American, to form Dreamboy, an R&B
Signed by musician and producer Quincy Jones,
they broke the Top 20 on the R&B charts. Marky
took leave from high school to travel with the band,
giving both brothers a chance to get a real taste of
the music business.
"We did lots and lots of music working toward
something, but not knowing what it was," Bass says.
"The dream as a kid was to have a gold record —
that's bigger than the lottery."

Meeting Mr. Mathers

Jeff and Marky built a studio in their basement
in Oak Park and started to record themselves
and other acts on an old 8-track machine.
"They would make music all hours of the
night in the basement studio right underneath
my room," recalls their mother, Elaine Bass of
Farmington Hills, who was divorced from the
boys' father when Jeff was a teenager.
"I'd stamp my feet and yell, 'Stop it. I've got to
be at work in an hour!' Now we just laugh about
it." (Older sister Susan Oleinick of Farmington
Hills used to play piano and violin.)
In 1993, the brothers opened a studio in
Ferndale on Eight Mile Road, dubbed it "the
Bassment," and developed what they would call
"8 Mile Style."
It was late one night in 1990 that Marky heard
a few young rappers performing live in the stu-
dios of WDRQ-FM and called and asked to talk
to one of them. A 15-year-old named Marshall
Mathers came to the phone.
At 4 the next morning, the rappers were in the
Bassment, talking music and making plans.
But the Bass brothers needed to borrow money
to make a demo tape with the young Mathers.
"I've been behind [Jeff and Marky] 100 percent
from the get-go,"Elaine Bass remembers. "People
used to say, 'What are you letting them do? They'll
never make it.' But I always had every faith in the
world in them.
'After they met Marshall, they asked me for a loan so
they could cut a demo. I believed in them and gave
them $1,500, and it paid of I couldn't be more proud."
Jeff Bass admits he probably believed in the proj-
ect less than his mom did at the time.
"I wasn't into rap music," he acknowledges, "but I
got involved.
"Musically, I'm still not a big fan of rap, but if

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