Eminem draws on past to
By Ed De La Garza
The Daily Cougar
In the three years since debuting with
The Slim Shady LP, Eminem has attempted to kill the notion that white artists
can't rap; antagonized
countless activist groups; railed against
various family members; and reveled in vitriolic and misogynistic lyrics,
all the while selling millions of
albums to mainstream America.
Photo courtesy of Interscope
On his latest album The Eminem
Show, Eminem (aka Marshall Mathers) turns the spotlight on himself and
his place in rap history.
But up even through The Marshall Mathers
LP (2002), the Detroit MC has rarely fessed up to the demons that serve
as his muse. While always
over-the-top, there's no denying the white
rapper can flow. But more often than not, he's given in to the usual hip-hop/rap
strategy of bragging
about money, cars and women instead of
mixing some substance into his Dr. Dre-produced beats.
That finally changes with The Eminem Show.
As he alludes to later in the album, Marshall Mathers is concerned with
his place in the rap game.
Maybe being different and controversial
isn't enough. Maybe it's the message that's more important than the messenger.
It's far from a classic album and has more
than its share of recycled material, but The Eminem Show finds Eminem on
the right path. And it's
an introspective path.
Beginning with "White America," Eminem
tackles the issue of his skin color and the reasons behind people's fears
about his content.
With the lines "Look at these eyes, baby
blue, baby just like yourself/ If they were brown Shady lose, Shady sits
on a shelf" and "I speak to
suburban kids who otherwise would of never
knew these words exist" Eminem raises the idea that there may be some reverse
going on (from his own race no less).
It's the idea that "White America" may
see him as a subversive influence on kids they want to keep away from rap
and what they see as
negative images and messages.
Despite recent lawsuit problems, the artist
resorts to bashing his mother in "Cleanin' Out My Closet," but this time
around it includes some
While it's hard to feel sorry for him,
we can at least see under the surface with "Take a second to listen for
you think this record is dissin,'/ But
put yourself in my position. Just try
to envision witnessin' your mama poppin' prescription pills in the kitchen."
The highlights on The Eminem Show are among
the artist's best. He worries (and actually sings) about his daughter on
It's odd — and endearing — to hear someone
so concerned about proving he's a thug lay himself bare. There's no bragging
or disses on this
song. It's just Marshall and an ode to
his reason for living.
He worries about his future on "When The
Music Stops." He worries that people don't see past the exterior and slap
his music with
"controversy" without really listening
to it on "Sing For The Moment."
But before listeners start thinking he's
gone completely serious, the album ends with a "My Dad's Gone Crazy," a
song that features his
daughter walking in on her father using
an illegal substance.
If the album had been trimmed from its
77-minute length, it could have been Eminem's masterpiece. As such, it's
a step in an unexpected
direction for Eminem.