In 2005, Eminem’s decision to go to rehab was seen as a tiresome ploy, especially as he had been praised for his three hip-hop albums prior to the release of 8 Mile which had earned him more recognition than the movie ever did.
For Marshall Mathers, however, the timing was perfect; he needed a way to expand his horizons and the film provided that.
The one that lost out was Slim Shady – the rebellious part of Marshall Mathers that emerged on his 1997 Slim Shady EP and was then promoted by Dr. Dre on the 1999 Slim Shady LP for Interscope. Slim was overshadowed by the rock anthems of The Eminem Show in 2002 and was almost absent from the competitive 8 Mile.
When he reappeared on 2004’s Encore, he was criticized by the less informed music community, not recognizing the intelligence of both Eminem and his alter-ego.
It is a testament to the respectability that Marshall Bruce Mathers III gained after 8 Mile that one can expect readers to keep up with his three personas. The movie, though good, deviated from his true story in many ways.
It gave Rabbit Smith a better mother, a more stable romantic life, a less chaotic hip-hop environment, a John Updike reference, and a job in the automotive industry, whereas Mathers worked in the service sector.
The film showed Eminem as a hero from a working-class background and this convinced many that his lyrics were not meant to be taken seriously.
However, it disregarded the fact that it was a classic story of the smart person overcoming greater obstacles, and that Mathers himself was an organic intellectual, a small man talking circles around those who had wronged him.
It ignored his understanding that character and identity are changeable, and that his race was only an example of this, not a defining factor. He explored, exploited and expanded the idea of moral responsibility in the public arts, even when it made some people uncomfortable.
In the culminating battle-rhyme scene of 8 Mile, Rabbit outsmarts his black competitor Papa Doc by exposing himself before Doc can say anything embarrassing and showing that he is more “real”. This idea of “realness” is often accepted by hip-hoppers, but it is more concerning when cultural authorities embrace it.
A ninth-grade drop-out is okay as long as they use their own strength to overcome hardship and express themselves. However, if a teen idol knows how to utilize postmodern media theory and African trickster tradition, they become a threat because that stuff should be kept away from kids by the university certified.
It is said that in 1997, after his musical debut Infinite flopped, Eminem–or Marshall Mathers, as he is most commonly known–concocted his Slim Shady alter ego while sitting on the toilet. He was already a respected member of the Detroit hip-hop collective D12, which at the time boasted twelve of the city’s best rappers–although only six could be found.
Each had a nickname–such as Kuniva, Kon Artis and Bizarre–that hinted at a character. But, in addition, they all had another identity. Eminem explained, “Everybody in my clique had an alias. They was like, ‘You can’t just be Eminem. You gotta be Eminem aka somebody else.'”
When hip-hop aficionados try to explain Eminem’s Slim Shady character to the skeptical, they often point to pioneering gangsta rap acts such as N.W.A and the Geto Boys. Although these groups were notorious for their outrageous lyrics, they were only one-dimensional in terms of their personas.
This type of rapper was willing to tell their followers that their music was a representation of reality, while denying any accusations of inciting violence. This idea of contradictory claims was also seen in the Gravediggaz, a rap group that released their debut in 1994.
With the help of Prince Paul, RZA, Fruitkwan and Poetic, they depicted the hood as being much grittier than any horror movie. By the time Eminem came on the scene, other rappers like Kool Keith and Zev Love X had already been experimenting with multiple personas.
African-Americans were the first to introduce this type of formal innovation in hip-hop. Unlike the way other pop stars attempt to prolong their fame, underground black rappers use the illing alter ego technique.
White rappers, on the other hand, tend to create bad poetry, social protest, and self-pity music. Slim Shady, however, was able to surpass both of these paths. He was able to tap into Marshall Mathers’s rebellious side in a manner that was understood by his fans. It was not so much self-expression as it was a fabrication, a combination of South Park‘s Cartman and an “avenging angel”.
Although it is too late to clarify, Eminem’s audience was aware of this. It is true that there are always those who will believe whatever they want to, but Moby was not wrong to point out: “I’m thirty-five.
I can understand the ambiguity and the irony. Nine- and ten-year-olds cannot.” Eminem was not being ironic when he said his music was not meant for nine-year-olds; twelve-year-olds, however, were able to comprehend the jokes that their elders could not.
Eminem was a very driven, unknown rapper–not simply handing out a tape of Infinite, but going so far as to have a vinyl pressing. His skill as an artist however, was evident. Richard Kim’s 2001 description of him as a “brillian[t]… businessman” who “recognizes that pain and negativity, of the white male variety particularly, still sell” was a bit off the mark. Slim Shady was a perfect vessel for Eminem’s sharp wordplay, clear delivery, pop beats, and humorous personality.
He was looking to catch the attention of rap fans–not just the late-comers that enjoyed 8 Mile, but the core demographic of hip-hop, ranging from youth to older adults, to the knowledgeable, artistic, and business-oriented people.
When Dr. Dre reached out to Eminem, it was more than he’d even imagined possible.
Eminem’s debt to Dr. Dre, who famously altered hip-hop with The Chronic in 1993, is often overly emphasized. Musically, Dre’s influence is evident in a handful of Eminem’s songs, such as “Guilty Conscience,” “Role Model,” “Kill You,” “The Real Slim Shady,” “Mosh,” and “My Dad’s Gone Crazy.” However, there are numerous other tunes, such as “97′ Bonnie and Clyde,” “My Fault,” “Cum on Everybody,” “The Way I Am,” “Stan,” “Kim,” “Criminal,” “White America,” “Square Dance,” and “Like Toy Soldiers,” where Dre’s input is not present. In the end, what Dre gave Eminem that was most valuable was credibility. In spite of the spread of Kid Rock and The Source, Eminem’s race was initially seen as a hindrance to his success.
It was only after he had gained the respect of fans that his whiteness became an advantage, as the song “White America” conveys: “Let’s do the math / If I was black I would’ve sold half.”
When Eminem began to reach the rock audience after his song “My Name Is” became popular, his rap audience had also grown.
It had a catchy loop from Dre, funny chorus, scratches that claimed turf, and he-fuck-da-police-in-different-voices.
Although it was humorous and radio-friendly, the offensive content–such as “stick nine-inch nails through my eyelids,” “rip Pamela Lee’s tits off,” “stuck my dick in the tip cup,” “Put a bulletproof vest on and shoot myself in the head”–was quite antisocial. This line, “Hi kids! Do you like violence?” was even recognized by Lynne Cheney. In the video, the lyrics were altered to be less dark, and in a mixtape version, the line “In a spaceship while they screaming at me ‘Let’s just be friends'” was changed to “Raping lesbians while they screaming at me ‘Let’s just be friends.'”.
The main message was “God sent me [in the video, ‘Dre sent me’] to piss the world off.” This was meant to romanticize the idea to “wiggers” that these tales of violence and large guns could be true, but in reality, it was just a verbal construct. The construction worker was just like you.
The cut to “Role Model,” otherwise known as “Just Like Me,” brings a Dre-beat that stays underneath the lyrics.
The title, a reference to Ice Cube’s famous N.W.A line, does not appear in the song. Instead, the chorus goes, “I slap women and eat ‘shrooms then OD / Now don’t you wanna grow up and be just like me?” Slim Shady is admitting or claiming numerous unacceptable acts throughout the track, though it is important to remember that no sane person would imitate them.
Although it is sad to think that not all fans can be expected to act sanely, it is still not the fault of the white boy.
He even goes so far as to say “How the fuck can I be white, I don’t even exist,” which should be taken as a reminder that his rhymes should not be taken literally. In the end, the message is clear: “I’m not a player just a ill rhyme sayer.”
Eminem’s trilogy of persona– The Slim Shady LP , The Marshall Mathers LP , The Eminem Show , Encore , and Curtain Call –illustrates an artistic journey from persona to person to artist to goodbye. The first album, The Slim Shady LP, finishes off with a few emotionally intense songs like “Stan,” “Kim,” and “Who Knew,” which represent Marshall the person. The Marshall Mathers LP, on the other hand, includes pieces like the title track, “The Real Slim Shady,” “Kill You,” and “I’m Back” that showcase Slim’s wild side.
Despite the criticism from some that the album promotes violence, the second wife-murdering song featured on it, exposes the desperate and insane nature of jealous rage. It is foolish to compare this to Neil Young’s “Down by the River,” which is much less complex.
When looking back, the two albums don’t present themselves in a neat fashion. Particularly, the last third of Slim Shady has become more valuable as the character of Slim has become scarce. The four Marshall Mathers tunes which feature Eminem’s D12 members and other famous thugs are tedious, similar to the Kan Kaniff skits in which he pretends to be a gay caller, enemy, or platinum-haired pop star. Kool Keith and the Gravediggaz make it interesting again with their dark yet fun lyrics.
They make C-grade films and participate in the gangsta lifestyle as Sticky Fingaz once said was a “nigga in your nightmare”. One may be able to comprehend the joy African-Americans feel when they throw racist stereotypes back in the face of White America for rewards, but that still doesn’t make them amusing or their outcomes preferable.
When Eminem first made his entrance into the music industry, many labeled him as a gangsta artist. However, this was wrong or deceptive.
It is true that Marshall Mathers was eventually arrested for displaying guns at others. But he never had a tendency for the typical gangsta lingo, threats, stories about crime and degrading sexual lyrics. The only African American rapper featured on Slim Shady (other than Dre) was Royce Da Five-Nine, and he comprehended this in their track “Bad Meets Evil”, which didn’t have a hint of darkness. On other songs like “Remember Me?” with Sticky Fingaz, “Amityville”, which was damaged by a foolish whim, and “Bitch Please II” with Xzibit, Eminem deepens his voice to be on par with his black counterparts, who give a brave facade to their most whimsical rhymes to avoid being seen as weak or small.
The Eminem Show contains two of Eminem’s ugliest songs: “Drips,” which pairs the female anatomy with illness, and the rap duet “Superman,” where he reflects on the allure of promiscuity and the lack of an inner conscience.
On this track, Eminem expresses how “bitches come and go” and a woman who he’s just slept with doesn’t know him.
Dre is absent as his superego, unlike on the rap song “Guilty Conscience.” Whether or not it is autobiographical, “Superman” is a display of gangsta-style bravado and hard rock posturing in the vein of Korn and Guns ‘N’ Roses.
The Eminem Show was a tribute to the devoted youth who spearheaded “White America” and inspired Eminem.
At twenty-nine, the rapper was three years older than during the release of “My Name Is” and the chauvinism in his music had become a thorny issue. The Eminem Show was a reflective blend of Slim Shady as the unfettered id and Marshall Mathers as the self-conscious overachiever, which ultimately culminated in the Academy Award-winning “Lose Yourself” – a song older white fans now consider his best work.
On The Eminem Show, the artist’s closing track “My Dad’s Gone Crazy” could be his best yet. It’s a multilayered piece that celebrates and questions his commitment to fatherhood, and is echoed in the only new song on Curtain Call, “When I’m Gone.” Hailie Jade’s sampled vocals give a devilish glee to the track, which makes one wonder how she’ll interpret it once old enough to listen to her dad’s music. There is nothing like it on the album; the beats are rigid, the self-pity is overwhelming, the celebrity feuds excessive, and the cameos superficial.
Eighteen months after the release of 8 Mile, Encore had achieved quadruple platinum status, not to the same extent as the two albums that preceded it, Marshall Mathers and The Eminem Show, but still comparable to Slim Shady.
The album was met with a mixed reception, containing songs such as “Mosh”, “Like Toy Soldiers”, “Rain Man”, and “Yellow Brick Road”, as well as a number of other well-crafted tracks, though it was much sillier than the first two albums. Nonetheless, it was something of a miracle that Eminem was able to recreate the high level of lyricality he had achieved on his early works after becoming more serious in his music.
Encore fulfills the criteria of an avant-garde album, being both hard to resist and hard to listen to, and its use of childish melodies and sound effects made during actual bouts of diarrhea and reverse peristalsis makes it even more remarkable.
The future of Slim Shady is unclear, as the very last credit for the promo rap-doc Curtain Call reads “Slim Shady R.I.P.”. Evaluating Slim’s impact requires looking at his music. The rhymes, enjambments and delivery mark him as unique in hip-hop. The treble-driven sound brings out musical meaning in racial differences, and his hook sense with Dre and Interscope created a wealth of tunelets.
His bass lines tend to be bouncy rather than soul-shaking.
The sound he creates is not as deep as other hip-hop sounds, but it has its own signature, integrity and pleasure principle. It is reminiscent of the early Beatles in its revisiting of childhood, and while it may never be as celebrated as The Beatles ‘ Second Album, it could still enjoy a long afterlife.
Regardless of the disagreement among ethicists, the alarm over Eminem has faded. It is up to the individual to decide whether they accept the irony and multiple-persona defenses, if they think the youth understand the complexity, and if they feel he is a reflection of a prejudiced America. Nonetheless, some commentaries are necessary.
A long time ago, after being rejected by an African-American girlfriend, Eminem used offensive language on a recording that was not meant to be heard publicly. When The Source uncovered it, he admitted that his words were wrong.
He has openly acknowledged that his skin color made it difficult for him to break into the hip-hop industry. Additionally, he has consistently shown respect for African-American rappers, both high-profile and lesser-known, and has remained loyal to his group, D12. Therefore, despite what The Source may want its readers to think, Eminem’s racial views have been admirable, if not perfect.
It is not easy to discern the evidence in regards to women, yet I will start by saying something that is rarely said: Eminem is not a seductive person. Certainly, there are some people (both men and women) who find him attractive, and it is possible that he has had quite a few relationships. However, any person who is familiar with hip-hop music would find it notable that Eminem is not known for his sexiness.
Most hip-hop artists attempt to project themselves as passionate lovers and experienced partners. When sex is involved in Eminem’s music, it is often accompanied by complex emotions, and his relationship with Kim is usually marked by insecurity
– something that is seldom mentioned by male hip-hop artists. In the song “Kim” the source of the insecurity is moralized, though this did not stop Eminem from performing on tour and killing a Kim doll while his fans cheered him on.
It was ironic, although I was not there to be certain.
This brings us to the debate around Eminem’s sexuality, which is easily understood despite the confusion of his opponents. It is clear that he is a homophobe.
The lines in “Criminal”–“My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge / That’ll stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or lez / Or the homosex, hermaph, or a trans-a-vest / Pants or dress? Hate fags? The answer’s yes”–have been constantly cited as a physical threat to homosexual people, but Eminem is actually referring to the power of his words to cause psychological pain. He is being ironic, legally and aesthetically, by threatening to kill people… with words.
Nevertheless, there is an issue. Verbal language can be extremely hurtful. As Eminem has shared, his mother’s words caused him a great deal of pain. Thus, the use of a pronoun such as ‘fag’ – which is similar to the term ‘nigger’ that Eminem refuses to say, as well as ‘bitch’ which he throws around – is still an attack even if Eminem insists he doesn’t have any negative intentions behind it.
In hip-hop culture, the word ‘fag’ has become a way to insult and target all homosexuals, which has caused a lot of distress.
Even though Eminem keeps his distance from other hip-hop issues, his acceptance of this one is questionable. He is evidently naive and scared when it comes to confronting actual homosexuality, as seen in the ‘Criminal’ song. Yet, the most sexual moment in any of his albums is the skit in ‘Marshall Mathers’, where it sounds like someone is enjoying a simulated blow job.
Back in August 2005, I had the chance to see Eminem perform live at Madison Square Garden for the first time.
Taking the stage after Lil Jon and 50 Cent, he made his entrance in the same suit as seen in the Jumbotron teaser that had him seemingly contemplating suicide. Soon, however, he changed into some white baggy outfit.
Every time he completed a song, such as “Mosh” or “Square Dance” or “Lose Yourself”, he was energetic and his performance was impressive, even when compared to the higher-profile 50 Cent. Unfortunately, he often stepped aside during the show so that D12 or a lesser-known label signing could take the spotlight. His most famous song “My Name Is” was only featured in a medley, and afterward he cancelled the concert’s European dates for rehab.
At one point, he even dropped his pants in an attempt to put an end to the retirement rumors. Although it’s unlikely he’ll vanish like Axl Rose, one wonders how many encores he can really do.
It is likely that Eminem will be featured in a few less autobiographical film roles and some insignificant production work, with an album to follow in either 2007 or 2008. This album could either be a rehash of his original style or a more ambitious endeavor that combines politics, sociology, and experimentation with a story or concept. However, a fantasy arises when considering his cameos and freestyles, which can all be combined on an interim CD and demonstrate how wide-reaching collaboration can be for an artist seeking out different opportunities. In particular, “We’re Still #1” is a freestyle that has been playing over and over, despite its irrelevant title.
“Salutations to Thirstin Howl, A. L., and Wordsworth
My mom was a crack addict, and I arrived early
I’m only a bookworm who is cursed with anxiety
Do you want to be the first to take on the challenge?
The vast majority of extraterrestrials favor our planet
I’m here to control the globe, starting with your territory
I placed a clandestine communication within a word puzzle
The characters were smudged and mashed together
I’m hanging out with male chauvinists and perverts
Who target women with water guns and soak their clothes
I’ve been a naughty boy since diapers and Gerber’s
My initial words were bleep and curse
I never had it, and I don’t even merit crud
My breath still smells bad and I’ve had three Certs
Ripping out the stitches and screaming “Nurse, nurse,
You said this shot would numb it, but it hurts more”
Viewing is not listening, so read this piece of what some might refer to as doggerel out loud, warping words like “premature,” “your,” and “Gerber’s” so that their ure / our / er sounds match their counterparts in “prefer,” “birth,” and “curse.”
The outcome is an intricately crafted stutter, surprisingly melodic when heard. Even though I would have liked “Never had it” to be “Never had shit,” like it is in a few transcriptions, it’s a clear indication that Eminem’s lacerations hurt more for those extraterrestrials who favor earth.
In his more up-to-date freestyles, Eminem has demonstrated profound psychological insight, mainly in songs such as “Bully” and “We’re Still #1”, as opposed to what was reported by The Source and Murder Inc.
My hope is that someone will take inspiration from these two songs and create something that could be embraced by the rap underground, just like Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska was. This way, Slim Shady’s legacy will continue to exist.
Rather than copying the text verbatim, it can be reworded to avoid plagiarism while still preserving the same semantic meaning. This can be done by altering the sentence structure without changing the context.
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