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Eminem to save America.
August 22, 2002 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Eminem to save America. Suspend your disbelief (like I did) and read what Al Giordano has to say about Slim Shady and his new White America video. (more inside)
posted by crasspastor (107 comments total)

 
I did have "more inside" coming, but my other browser window crashed taking with it what I'd written. Gah!

If you can get through the whole article you will find what I found most poignant.

Thus quoth eminem:

Oh yeah, don't think I won't go there/go to Beirut and do a show there/yah, you laugh until your muthafuckin' ass gets drafted/while you're there in Baghdad thinkin' the crap can't happen/till you fuck around, get an anthrax napkin/open the plastic and then you stand back gaspin'/ fuckin' assassins hijackin'/Amtracks crashin'/all this terror, America demands action/next thing you know you've got Uncle Sam's ass askin'/to join the Army or what you'll do for the Navy/You, just a baby, getting' recruited at eighteen/You're on a plane now eatin' their food and their baked beans/I'm twenty-eight, they gon take you before they take me/Crazy insane or insane crazy?/When I say Hussein, you say Shady/My views ain't changed, I'm still inhumane/wait, arraigned two days late, the date's today, hang me!

And then Giordano's editorial a little later on:

Mathers' counter-discourse, unlike Bush's, has a domestic policy - a united white and black underclass - and there are so far 4.3 million, soon to be ten million, little red lyric books out there (the first Eminem album to include written lyrics) being read and re-read as kids of all ages listen to the tracks over and over again. And if you sincerely want to understand the context and the subtleties and the humor and how they mix with the rage, and why the rage is absolutely legitimate and in fact necessary, if you want any standing to offer serious critique of how he allegedly impacts the youth of America, you must approach "The Eminem Show" in the same way that your 13-year-old kid receives it: reading the little red lyric book and listening, over and over, until you get it. And unless and until you do that, what intelligent thing could you possibly have to say about this music to which you have not really listened?

I don't know about you, but they've got me there. Eminem anybody?
posted by crasspastor at 5:33 PM on August 22, 2002


Hell's bells. That was actually good. What would be interesting to see is how his fans take this song, what they think it means and what they believe about this topic.
posted by Hall at 5:38 PM on August 22, 2002


weird, i just visited race traitor's site. (years ago got a great riff i use to this day. someone makes a racist statement; you say: oh, you prolly said that cause you think i'm white. lots of people make that mistake cause i look white. used it on blacks/whites, freaks all out!)

my problem: i love highly developed improv , rock/jazz. rap has none of that. but rap is the only mass culture music where liberation politics are still heard. just read chuck d's auto, fight the power.

i'm fifty, i'm gonna buy MnM's cd.
posted by aiq at 5:51 PM on August 22, 2002


Well, at least Giordano admits that "Slim Shady" is simply Eminem "in the third person," rather than an elaborate made-up persona whose opinions have nothing to do with Mathers himself.
posted by transona5 at 6:03 PM on August 22, 2002


"Alternative discourse". In a wife-beater. You're really that desperate?
posted by dhartung at 6:30 PM on August 22, 2002


wow! I can't believe it, but finally someone in the mainstream is speaking out against all this bulls**t
posted by proof_nc at 6:32 PM on August 22, 2002


heh. I find his music to be more comical than anything else, but if some find some sort of truth to them(of which there is, no doubt; i.e. the state of the union).

He seems like an intelligent man that expresses himself differently than most intelligent men do.

Not to mention his beats sound good as hell in my car, with 12" JL's. ;-)
posted by spidre at 6:36 PM on August 22, 2002


I think he speaks to the people. He speaks to me anyway.
posted by vito90 at 6:36 PM on August 22, 2002


He should have done it as a rap. It's how you get through to the kids.
posted by holloway at 6:37 PM on August 22, 2002


Improvisation is central to hip-hop.
posted by sudama at 6:42 PM on August 22, 2002


I read halfway through the first link and thought this was likely just bunk...but i have to admit that after watching the video i'm starting to think eminem may have just figured out that he actually has an audience and something to say (all of his previous stuff has been kinda catchy but mostly self-referential in it's nature). Is it really that surprising that a generation that's force fed music/clothes/personality may create a backlash, you may have to wonder if the economic heights and social homogeny of the 50's may be like those of the 90's in leading to a future backlash of a generation. My only fear is that this one would be much darker then the past, we're all too cynical for free love.
posted by NGnerd at 6:43 PM on August 22, 2002


Thanks, great link. It's about time we had something that can make parents on both the left and the right feel threatened by their kids' ideas. I can't remember the last time I read someone writing about pop music as though it really mattered to anyone, except for the businessmen, collectors, genre specialists, and nostalgics.
posted by fuzz at 6:46 PM on August 22, 2002


"Alternative discourse". In a wife-beater. You're really that desperate?

Quite frankly I'm more worried that you aren't that desperate yet.
posted by Ryvar at 7:13 PM on August 22, 2002


I've always found Eminem to be "smarter" than most people give him credit for. People I know just write him off as "Vanilla Ice 2000" but his raps are always interesting to listen to, and the message in most of them (beyond the "I'm great" context that all rappers use) is usually quite intelligent.

I've never been a real fan of rap music except for Public Enemy and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (the only rap artists whose albums I own), but I'm going to have to add Eminem to the list after hearing a few of his songs.
posted by Grum at 7:28 PM on August 22, 2002


NGnerd: In the 60's it was sex and drugs and rock-n-roll. Well, sex and drugs will both kill you now, and Rock-n-Rollâ„¢ is the sole and exclusive property of the rich and may not be used without permission anywhere ever by anyone.

All today's kids have is lots of information, and cheap guns.
posted by rusty at 8:23 PM on August 22, 2002


As a white 27 year-old, I 'm a bit older than Eminem's target audience, but still kind of within the target demographic. I grew up listening to Curtis Blow and Slick Rick (okay, Simon and Garfunkel and Cyndi Lauper too, but don't tell nobody).

Two things about Eminem should be recognized:
1) His lyrics are insanely tight. Say what you want about him being white, but he strings together lyrics that sometimes makes you wonder how anyone can rhyme, change speeds, and syncopate like that. Black or white, the guy can rap.

2) He's known for a while what his audience is, and what how his music can influence them. Check out the lyrics to Stan for a good example.

He's a dick on TV, but he's got a good idea of what he's doing. He's not all bad.
posted by Samsonov14 at 8:32 PM on August 22, 2002


Why he's a regular Milton, ain't he? I am simply rapturous at the heady authenticity of this young lad and his beautiful odes to the Terpsichorian muse, as he bravely speaks out against our "totalitarian" state while rakin' in the bitches and cash. Mad props, yon poet laureate of Gorilla news.
posted by evanizer at 8:35 PM on August 22, 2002


I've tried so damn hard to dislike the guy, but now I don't have any other choice but to call him brilliant. Thanks for the link.
posted by oh posey at 8:38 PM on August 22, 2002


It's about time we had something that can make parents on both the left and the right feel threatened by their kids' ideas.

Well shit, I feel threatened by those kids. Venturing to the mall or anywhere public and suburban, you find the Eminem Class Carfleet. I'd previously up to now, completely written them off as angry, bored and insolent. I suppose one still has to. But the video did a remarkable job of turning the mirror, as it were, on those very kids that the video was aimed at. I forget which part, but there was that glassy eyed rendition of eminem with his visor "intimidatingly" skewed and he said something to the effect of "I'm looked up to by these kids because we look alike. . .". The idea of the song in general of course, was about thinking and expressing. If kids that "look like that" are thinking and expressing, well, that's something I can get behind. I hope I stand corrected in my assumptions of our younger generation.
posted by crasspastor at 8:40 PM on August 22, 2002


You're just jealous evanizer.
posted by crasspastor at 8:42 PM on August 22, 2002


Thank you, evanizer. Eminem the new Lenny Bruce? I'm no fan of the latter, but at least he actually got arrested for what he said, rather than sternly lectured at by Lynne Cheney. And while Bruce's strings-of-ethnic-slurs routine was a little paint-by-numbers, "think about why these words are so shocking" stale (although you probably had to be there) it wasn't actually racist. Eminem shocks with misogynistic, gay-bashing words - in a misogynistic, gay-bashing context.
posted by transona5 at 8:49 PM on August 22, 2002


Evanizer, I understand your dislike of the guy. He hasn't exactly been a gold star advocate of alternative lifetyles (or of healthy lifestyles in general). But you have to accept that what he does is part of a recognized genre of music, and the lexicon of that genre includes words like "nigger" and "fag" and "ho".

I chuckled at what you wrote, because I enjoy a cleverly worded comment, but you really have to listen to a bunch of his stuff to figure him out.

Yeah, it's sometimes shocking and offensive, but so were Elvis, NWA, the Dadaists, and Shakespeare. No, I'm not comparing him to Shakespeare, but someone has to push the envelope in our popular media or we stagnate.

Listen to a his music while realizing that most of it is just for show, and you might find that he's not as bad as you think. Or at least you'll see that he can rhyme. Unlike Milton.
posted by Samsonov14 at 8:58 PM on August 22, 2002


Many of the kids listening to eminem today are gay and there's still plenty of Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos to go around. I'm going to hedge my bets because I want the Giordano piece to be right and say this is a good thing--at least he isn't a pawn of the religious right in the sense of misogyny and "homo"phobia. I mean we know shit's fucked up right? Anything that gets kids out of their boxes and directs their anger away from themselves and onto social issues. Look at them! They hate each other and they don't know why. Perhaps eminem doesn't (didn't) know why either. Artists grow and mature. Think of what it must do for Marshall Mathers to read a piece so fawningly socially charged as the "Gorilla" news column. I think I'll be keeping an eye on this eminem guy.

Was that the "unlocking" of a new market I heard?
posted by crasspastor at 9:02 PM on August 22, 2002


I would like to point out, however, that there's politics and and then there's "political" pop stars. Back in the 1969 or so, Columbia Records actually ran an ad campaign entitled The Man Can't Bust Our Music. People actually seem to think that their consumption of a commodity--pop music--and defining themself as an outsider, a rebel...
(Pee Wee Herman: There's things about me you don't know, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand.

Dottie: I don't understand...???

Pee-wee Herman: You don't want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel.
by their consumption of records, rock shows, shirts, pants, shoes and tattoos i.e. buying things, amounts to a revolutionary act. Jesus.

That said, I find Enimem's move here interesting from the angle of his Race Traitor potential, as aiq just noted. Such as it is...

And, at least his shtick is not as fraudulent or calculated as. say, the cynical marketing in a straight up lie and libel on Elvis "the institution not the individual" . But then Enimem is anything but a bourgeois, unlike Chuck D.
posted by y2karl at 9:09 PM on August 22, 2002


Why he's a regular Milton, ain't he? I am simply rapturous at the heady authenticity of this young lad and his beautiful odes to the Terpsichorian muse, as he bravely speaks out against our "totalitarian" state while rakin' in the bitches and cash. Mad props, yon poet laureate of Gorilla news.

lol. Joking about him isn't going to make him go away though.

Alternative discourse". In a wife-beater. You're really that desperate?

I'm not. But a lot of other kids my age are. And how's it b eing desperate in the first place?

Both dhartung and evanizer's replies have a tinge of fear in them to me






posted by Slimemonster at 9:47 PM on August 22, 2002


Both dhartung and evanizer's replies have a tinge of fear in them to me

Well, yeah ... I'm afraid the guy's gonna be spittin' in my fries five years from now.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:01 PM on August 22, 2002


No offense, WolfDaddy, but the chances you'll be spitting in his are a lot greater than that, all things considered.
posted by y2karl at 10:13 PM on August 22, 2002


I'm not afraid of MC Great White Hype. But if he knew the foul carnal thoughts I had 'bout his sorry white ass, he'd be afraid of me. Word.
posted by evanizer at 10:26 PM on August 22, 2002


You type with bravado.
posted by y2karl at 11:30 PM on August 22, 2002


I know that you got a job Ms. Cheney
but your husband's heart problem's complicating
So the FCC won't let me be
or let me be me, so let me see
They try to shut me down on MTV
But it feels so empty, without me
So, come on and dip, rum on your lips
Fuck that, cum on your lips, and some on your tits
And get ready, cause this shit's about to get heavy
I just settled all my lawsuits, FUCK YOU DEBBIE!


I'm sorry, which part of this was the brilliant lyrical dismemberment of our Vice President that Al Giordano gives Eminem credit for? He seems to be confusing crass expression of disapproval with scathing criticism.

And I don't see how "a dancing Osama Bin Laden" in the video "openly challenges the post-September 11th official discourse."

I'm not trying to insult the guy, and maybe I'm just totally out of the loop at the age of 21, but nothing Giordano is quoting Eminem as doing seems all that revolutionary to me, and none of the lyrics seem to be overtly challenging the system. Certainly he's not offering any sort of solution to the things he's bitching about, despite the many examples of Giordano hailing him as the second coming. Does the verse ending with
If y'all would leave me alone this wouldn't be my M.O./I wouldn't have to go "eenie meenie miney mo, catch a homo by his toe," I don't know no more/am I the only fucking one who's normal anymore?
Really going to cure homophobia and misogyny, like Giordano says it is? What am I missing?
posted by Hildago at 11:48 PM on August 22, 2002


Whoops, that makes no sense. Pardon my grammar.
posted by Hildago at 11:51 PM on August 22, 2002


i think people are starving for someone in the mass media to vocalize what they feel. eminem is talented, his lyrics are somewhat open to interpretation, and people more intelligent than he would like them to say what is not being said.

is he a leader against the powerful, or a new cutting-edge journalist? if he were would we have to analyze it so much, and read into lyrics, and make excuses where he says things that are intolerant and stupid? I'm reminded of this quote from meTa recently:

People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone.

His tasks should be looked at more closely:

First, he or she must report accurately, in great detail, on important events and overlooked truths in society, no matter the personal risk to bring the story to the public.

clearly eminem has failed this, mentioning things in a song cannot be considered great detail.

Second, he or she must communicate complex issues and connect with the public in a manner that everyone - not just the over-educated classes - can understand.

he has again failed. First, his issues are not complex if you take them at face value and don't read into what you would like them to say. Second, he is certainly not connecting to the public in a matter everyone can understand. While he may be making some people think, he has little or no effect outside an audience who is notorious for not voting. even within that audience his political influence is questionable. i promise if you go up to some guy who likes eminem and ask him about his views on eminems so-called "policy" or his views on any other topic you will be met with confusion.

The problem is they have to choose a winner, and no one is up to par. That's depressing for people, but sometimes you just have to face it.
posted by rhyax at 12:27 AM on August 23, 2002


If you wanna hear some seriously strong/angry/anti-government/lefty hip-hop, check "What Would You Do?" by Paris. The beats and rhymes are okay, but the message is what makes it stand out.

You can download it here.

Also worth mentioning is Eyedea from Rhymesayers. He cut his teeth in the MC battles same as Eminem. Supposedly the two were big rivals, but I wouldn't know.

Some other good hip-hop labels are Stones Throw, Definitive Jux, 7 Heads, Anticon, Chocolate Industries, Mush, & BBE, if anyone is interested.

As far as Eminem goes, I've never put forth too much effort into listening to his music. It's more that I just don't have to time time to devote to it. Plenty of other music that is a higher priority.
posted by Rattmouth at 12:55 AM on August 23, 2002


I'm not seeing it either. His career, from what I can tell, is more or less fueled by controversy. There would be something wrong if he didn't address Sept 11th. If it backfires he can always sing a duet with Lynne Cheney like he did with Elton.

Then again, a large part of this discussion if about putting yourself in the minds of the average teenager. I couldn't pull that trick off when I was teenager let alone now. Top40 political pabulum? No thanks, but if I had to pick I would have to go with RATM. They delivered the political message better and smarter and without all baggage.
posted by skallas at 1:42 AM on August 23, 2002


But you have to accept that what he does is part of a recognized genre of music, and the lexicon of that genre includes words like "nigger" and "fag" and "ho".

I don't think he gets off the hook "just because everyone else does it, " because I don't think that the references are truly a part of the genre. It doesn't show up as often on mainstream radio, but there's still hip hop and rap that doesn't throw in derogatory language(if that's the right term for it) and comes across with a message, and a highly literate one at that. I barely listen to that style, since I'm kind of dabbling in everything right now, but I know Blackalicious for one is a good example of such.

from the first link:
I mean, what has that faux-alternative yuppie accuser Moby done to help us understand the roots of the rampant homophobia or misogyny in American culture that he claims to deplore? I personally think Marshall is much closer to finding the cure. Moby and his ilk just want to repress words, kids, and what kind of sorry excuse for an artist is that?

The oddness of that last sentence's phrasing notwithstanding, what harm has Moby ever caused that he should be relegated to the role of repressor? You could argue against his relevancy and musical capability all you want, but to actually accuse him of outright hypocrisy while praising Mr. Mathers seems a bit much. I guess the article was supposed to make us rethink our opinion of Eminem, and I'm always a bit interested in looking at pop culture a different way, but I think he lost a lot of validity when he started taking pot shots at Moby. I'd already thought about my position on the matter, and while I think Slim and his Shadiness throw down some wicked tricky wordplay, the catchy chorus is not enough to make me support it. Or even appreciate it's existence. To celebrate Eminem as a spokesman for White America, or for anyone, for that matter, is to sell music fans short. Very, very short.
posted by redsparkler at 1:43 AM on August 23, 2002


At the risk of trolling, I've got to say that there's a lot in this thread that proves how badly we need Eminem today. It's easy for everyone to get together and vilify him for using bad words, just like all our mothers did when we were kids. "Why does that boy have to be so angry? Why can't he work with us to achieve a more just and tolerant society?"

Eminem manages to provoke people into demonstrating how closed our cultural environment is. His songs denounce the fact that his father beat his mother and his mother beat him, but people over 25 don't bother to listen because they're too busy throwing fits over his use of that naughty word "fag".

What harm has Moby ever caused that he should be relegated to the role of repressor?
The world has changed, and Moby and RATM are part of the cultural establishment at this point. To poor white people, they represent a sanctimonious left that is far more concerned with the semantics of speech than the realities of economics, with vegetarianism and ecology and Tibet rather than with the violence and poverty that exists among "people without color". From Eminem's perspective, at least the right avoids hypocrisy by being up-front with the fact that they don't give a shit about poor people, white or black.

To restate Eminem's message in politically correct language: the "white trash America" that Eminem claims to speak for represents the most culturally disenfranchised group in America. They do not fit any of the existing categories of officially oppressed groups. So Eminem provides them with transgressively provocative speech that, by crossing the boundaries of the socially acceptable, deconstructs the hypocrisy of the power structure.

Translation: "My life sucks. Fuck you all." Eminem hates the family, homosexuals, Lynne Cheney, Tipper Gore, his mother, his father, women in general, people in general, himself. And everyone is rushing in, thundering with self-righteousness, to prove him right to hate it all.

Back in my day, it was called punk rock. If you go back and listen to the Sex Pistols, you'll find plenty of hate speech against women. You'll also find a working-class critique of both the monarchy and the hippies. Sometimes hate is an intelligent political response to the reality you see around you.
posted by fuzz at 3:18 AM on August 23, 2002


Giordano's article reminded me - perversely - of its polar opposite from a few years back over at Ironminds. Is it just me or is it possible to think that to some extent both writers are right?

oh posey: I spent ages trying to hate the guy but, dammit, his music sounds good and makes me laugh at his outrageousness despite knowing better... Perhaps Giordano's wrong - perhaps we shouldn't take music so seriously?

RedSparkler: what harm has Moby ever caused you've obviously never nearly blown an gasket trying to dance to Moby's sadistic and aptly named Thousand!
posted by dmt at 3:39 AM on August 23, 2002


Eminem is not a journalist. A journalist is someone who investigates and reports on issues and at least attempts to present his/her arguments in an even-handed way -- argument (rather than statement or assertion) is the important word. A journalist is not all ME ME ME ME. That's art. Whether Eminem is good or bad art is another question.

His songs denounce the fact that his father beat his mother and his mother beat him, but people over 25 don't bother to listen because they're too busy throwing fits over his use of that naughty word "fag".

If you believe homophobia and misogyny are wrong then you have to condemn Eminem for being a homophobic woman-hater, just as you have to condemn Eliot for anti-semitism and Shakespeare for racism. It doesn't invalidate everything he does but it's still wrong.

If you go back and listen to the Sex Pistols, you'll find plenty of hate speech against women.

Could you provide examples? I'm not saying you're wrong, it's just I don't recall any hate speech against women, at least not in the lyrics John Lydon wrote.
posted by Summer at 3:41 AM on August 23, 2002


I've got to say that there's a lot in this thread that proves how badly we need Eminem today.

You know, there was a day, probably not too long ago, that if you would have told me that I would see the above phrase on Metafilter (or anywhere else for that matter), I would have laughed at you. And laughed and laughed. And laughed and laughed. And laughed. Then, if you had insisted that such a phrase would indeed come to pass, I would have quietly placed the tip of my flint-lock rifle in my mouth and pulled the trigger. Now the day has come, and, Lo!, such a phrase receives nary a second glance, or a shudder. The end times are indeed upon us. Come, great Cthulu, for our time here is finished.

*gibber*
posted by evanizer at 4:25 AM on August 23, 2002


Evanizer - it was only posted about an hour and a half before you posted. People haven't had a chance to react yet. Anyway, does that mean that you're now dead?
posted by Summer at 4:33 AM on August 23, 2002


the "white trash America" that Eminem claims to speak for represents the most culturally disenfranchised group in America.

You're saying Eminem really believes this?
posted by sudama at 4:40 AM on August 23, 2002


You don't get it evanizer. There are hundreds of millions more Americans out there who aren't and aren't like you or me. Thing is, you, me, they; we all still live here together. Put it to your mouth. Or better yet, what are you going to do about it? Don't give us this maudlin bullshit exemplifying the rift that exists between you and them.
posted by crasspastor at 5:02 AM on August 23, 2002


Summer: You were right to call me out on this one. Check out the Sex Pistols' "Bodies" from Never Mind the Bollocks. It's the song I had in mind when I was ranting. Looking at it now, it's not nearly as direct or coherent as I remembered it. But I can remember being 17 years old and simultaneously offended and thrilled at how Johnny Rotten was willing to crap on the feminist, pro-choice ideals I was brought up with, as well as the mushy, well-meaning consensus I hated. The song is a rant against both women and babies; it's anti-choice and anti-life at the same time. Looking at the rest of the album's lyrics, you've got the same basic stance as Eminem, only 25 years ago. I'm convinced that Lydon was both smarter and more sincere than people ever gave him credit for.

Evanizer: Ignoring the derisive laughter to try to guess what your point really is, we probably agree on most political issues that genuinely matter: gays should be free to do what they want, wife beating is bad. But we disagree about what to do about it. The War on Homophobia uses the same "zero tolerance" approach as the War on Drugs, with the same consequences for a free society and the same likelihood of actually succeeding.

Instead of repressing any expression of anti-fag sentiment, you might want to take a close look at why Eminem and the white trash he represents have decided that the "fags" are responsible for everything they hate about life. You might find that "gayness" is their way of thinking about the emotions that violence has taught them to hate in both themselves and in others, that their homophobia is quite incidental to what they're really trying to say, or even that they use words like "fag" just to get a rise out of people like you.

Sudama: Yes. Although he wouldn't say it that way. As samsonov4 pointed out above, if you read the lyrics to "Stan" closely, you can't tell me that Eminem doesn't know what he's doing. Even when he's immolating himself in public.
posted by fuzz at 5:38 AM on August 23, 2002


I can't believe people have serious discussions about eminem like other generations had serious discussions about Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Bob Marley, etc... These were revolutionaries, not eminem. As a Hip Hop DJ I have an authority at least on em's music and flow. As a 25 year old I have an authority on his impact on my opinions and the ability to stir up emotions. A couple of opinions I have on eminem.

1. I think his flow is corny. he's the kind of kid who usually comes into a club with a backpack on and smoking a be-dee. He gets on the mic and raps about stupid stuff just for a reaction.
2. The honest truth everyone is that if he wasn't white he wouldn't be popular. Get off your high horse if you disagree with that. I'll point out 30 albums that came out last year that are produced better and have better lyrics and flows.
3. If DR. Dre didn't produce his albums he wouldn't be popular either. Dre is the man. I don't always agree with how he chops up (or lack there of) samples. Sometimes he blatant rips off other songs. Actually most of the time. But that's hip hop (and a whole other discussion...don't call me a troll.)
4. People who think he's a genius because he says things to get a rise out of people should hang out with my cousin who has tourettes syndrome, because you will think he is frigging Albert Einstein.
5. Making fun of Christina Agulera, Britney Spears, and boy bands is um...pretty lame. Why not make fun of retarded people as well. Or how about dogs. "Damn, dogs are dumb. Nothing dumber then a dog." This really isn't too outside-the- box type thinking.
6. I'll point out again that I hate the fact that eminem is associated with my generation. MTV has a stranglehold on the US that has created an army of sheep. Why can't I be having the same discussions about:
Jurassic 5
Blackalicious
DJ Qbert
The Beatnuts
Freestyle Fellowship
Del
Dialated Peoples
East Flatbush Project
Sound Providers
De La Soul
etc...
posted by LouieLoco at 6:38 AM on August 23, 2002


Fuzz: From Eminem's perspective, at least the right avoids hypocrisy by being up-front with the fact that they don't give a shit about poor people, white or black.
And here I thought I wasn't going to find anything in this thread to take away. Thanks Fuzz.

My worthless opinion is that Eminem is merely an intellectual curiosity. Something seems not quite right so the curious are prodding around, and the posers are making pontifications and stroking their chins.

Best comment above was the double entendre about the wife beater from dhartung. Noone seemed to get it.

Just because the occasional nugget falls out of his mouth I'm not overly impressed. He runs his mouth constantly. The law of large numbers alone would insure he would eventually say something thought provoking.

But, be sure and grab his album where you can hear him repeat the phrase "I'm slim shady, the real shady" about 4,096 times. That's deep man. Deep.

"If we can hump dead animals and antelopes, there's no reason two men can't elope, but if you feel like me I got the antidote". Yep. A classical lyricist.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:40 AM on August 23, 2002


I'm 30. I grew up with punk and hardcore... I listened to DRI and the Dead Kennedys rant about politics when I was 13 or so... did any of it sink in? Not a word of it.

I absolutely HATE eminem. I don't think he should be banned or anything.. But I think all these people who hail him as "revolutionary" and a "lyrical genious" should go listen to some Bad Brains and see what HR has to say.
posted by quibx at 6:41 AM on August 23, 2002


Wow... after 43 posts, I'm surprised nobody mentioned the Dead Kennedys. DK, an American hardcore punk band in the 80s stirred up plenty of controversy over their politically and socially charged lyrics. DK broke up in the late 80s after what has become known as the FrankenChrist trials (a censorship witch hunt), where the lead singer, Jello Biafra, was made an example of by the PMRC (who subsequently introduced those damned explicit lyrics stickers).

Eminem, Dead Kennedys, Rage Against the Machine (I'll throw in for good measure) have understood that in this day an age (being as complacent as it is), it takes a certain kind of offense to be heard. The hippie movement is over, although sometimes I feel that this movement worked simply 'cause a whole lotta people loitered a whole lot, and passed out flowers like religious zealots pass out pamphlets :). Preachy acoustic girlie tunes with the clever lyrics just won't cut it anymore. The music itself must reflect its lyrics: angry, underground (in the right context), but surfacing to be heard, understood, and dealt with.
posted by freakystyley at 6:42 AM on August 23, 2002


So Eminem provides them with transgressively provocative speech that, by crossing the boundaries of the socially acceptable, deconstructs the hypocrisy of the power structure.

Some-bo-dy's go-ing to col-lege! Nah nah nah nah nah-nahnah!
posted by y2karl at 6:44 AM on August 23, 2002


Louieloco: 4. People who think he's a genius because he says things to get a rise out of people should hang out with my cousin who has tourettes syndrome, because you will think he is frigging Albert Einstein.

You, sir, are my new metafilter hero.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:45 AM on August 23, 2002


First, he or she must report accurately, in great detail, on important events and overlooked truths in society, no matter the personal risk to bring the story to the public.

Second, he or she must communicate complex issues and connect with the public in a manner that everyone - not just the over-educated classes - can understand.


I think the author is confusing journalism with poetry. Items one and two are the realm of poets. And yes, that even includes anti-social, potty-mouthed, misogynistic poets. (Hey, read any Ezra Pound lately?) Poetry being a mostly-dead art form I'm not surprised the writer didn't know any better.
posted by ratbastard at 6:49 AM on August 23, 2002


I tried to not like Eminem for a long, long time. Until I read this article in Salon.com. Now, I'm a believer:

Welcome to deepest, darkest America. It's this America that Eminem, in the tradition of great Southern realists such as Dorothy Allison, illustrates vividly and accurately. This aspect of his art is the one that most of his critics, in their rush to gain the moral high ground, have missed or ignored. "The Marshall Mathers LP" sheds a scary light on a phenomenon both rural and urban, Southern, Northern and American: for lack of a better word, white trash...

Two types of people listen to Eminem. There are some who appreciate his language and narrative as it should be appreciated: as good literature. There are also those who think his darkest manifestation, Slim Shady, is someone to be emulated. As many albums as he's sold, both types obviously exist in droves. I'll leave it to your personal balance of optimism and pessimism to decide just what the percentages are.

This is where his genius lies. "The Marshall Mathers LP" succeeds in the manner that truly great art should always succeed. First, it describes a problem -- and not in the distanced, pleasant way that, say, Arrested Development does (or, rather, did).

Second, it proves the problem is real, scarily real. Significantly, it does this as much through album sales as it does through language.

posted by ColdChef at 6:49 AM on August 23, 2002


quibx! Finally, somebody mentioned DK! I'm 26 and I only discovered DK a coupla years ago. Admittedly, I'm no fan of Eminem either (yet), but given the context (punk being in the sad state it's currently in), it is useful to have such a controversial figure in the spotlight. Unlike traditional hardcore, Eminem is doing everyone a great service by making his message accessible. He's got air time, catchy tunes, but most important of all (in this case), his lyrics come with the CD. That's what I enjoyed 'bout DK so much... accessible lyrics. Ever seen some 26 year old Chinese guy blastin' DK from his car radio and shoutin' out the lyrics like he was participating in some karaoke contest from hell :)? I'm one to believe that any self-respecting artist who's got something worthwhile to say should always include the lyrics in their albums.

But I digress. In this context, Eminem is revolutionary. He's offensive, controversal, but never far from the truth. Everything that hardcore punk should be, but in this case, he's able to use mainstream media to his advantage. That is to say, where hardcore punk has failed, Eminem has succeeded.
posted by freakystyley at 6:59 AM on August 23, 2002


30 plus years ago, when I was a teenager in full rebellion against the fascist oppressors of that time, I listened to Frank Zappa. When it comes to challenging lyrics, rebellion, musical talent, the ability to grow hair on your face, whatever standard you choose to judge by, this kid couldn't hold one of old Frank's turds with both hands.

Having said that, would I encourage my own sons to listen to Eminem? Probably not, since that seems to defeat some of the purpose of listening to music your Dad hates.
posted by norm29 at 6:59 AM on August 23, 2002


those damned explicit lyrics stickers

hey now, those stickers have helped to sell millions of records.
posted by whatnot at 7:03 AM on August 23, 2002


I do agree that most of today's musicians, be they the mainstream types that I ignore, or the indie types that I love, avoid politics in their songs. I think there's a view that there's something crass and awkward about explicitly 'having a message'. If you put a message in at all, it has to be shrouded deeply in metaphor or mumbled lyrics so you have an escape route out if you're confronted about it.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs, really. I think it's going to change though, if certain governments ease much further to the right. Remember the Reagan/Thatcher years? Look at the underground music from that time. There's some anger there, some speaking out by intelligent musicians.

If Eminem is all we've got to fill this void now, well that's unfortunate. If he does effect a revolution, I wouldn't want to be a part of the nation he founds. Seems like it'd be one built on hatred and spite.

And:
"Alternative discourse". In a wife-beater. You're really that desperate?
Quite frankly I'm more worried that you aren't that desperate yet.

Blind, ignorant hatred is about the worst trait a human being can possess. I for one will never be that desperate.
posted by picea at 7:12 AM on August 23, 2002


He ain't nothin more than Dylan and Madonna's secret love child. . .
posted by BentPenguin at 7:21 AM on August 23, 2002


Summer: You were right to call me out on this one. Check out the Sex Pistols' "Bodies" from Never Mind the Bollocks.

I thought you might be thinking of that, fuzz. That song's one of the most complicated the Sex Pistols did IMO and I don't think you can call it anti-woman. There's both disgust and sympathy mixed up in there if you look at lyrics like this:

She was a no-one who killed her baby
she sent her letters from the country
she was an animal
she was a bloody disgrace

Dragged on a table in a factory
illegitimate place to be
in a packet in a lavatory
die little baby screaming

When he says 'she was an animal, she was a bloody disgrace' I think he's suggesting that's what newspapers like the Daily Mail would label her, not that that's his opinion.

I remember reading somewhere, or perhaps seeing in a documentary, that the song is actually based on a real person - she was a mentally handicapped woman who had an illegal abortion.

in this day an age (being as complacent as it is), it takes a certain kind of offense to be heard.

There are millions of people who have been directly spoken to by the lyrics of Morrissey, who sang along to pretty guitar tunes and is nothing more than a socialist dandy fop.
posted by Summer at 7:21 AM on August 23, 2002


norm29:

Having said that, would I encourage my own sons to listen to Eminem? Probably not, since that seems to defeat some of the purpose of listening to music your Dad hates.

You should therefore discourage your kids from listening to Eminem to ecourage them to listen to Eminem :).
posted by freakystyley at 7:23 AM on August 23, 2002


whatnot:

hey now, those stickers have helped to sell millions of records.

Yeah, that kinda backfired, didn't it :)? I guess the PMRC could either get rid of them, or have new stickers that say something along the lines of, "listening to this music is against GOD". He he...
posted by freakystyley at 7:26 AM on August 23, 2002


Yawn... y'all lost me at the point where you say/imply there is much of a message in modern music besides "buy more albums".
posted by clevershark at 7:31 AM on August 23, 2002


We live in mediocre times when Eminem is seen as a genius.
posted by SpaceCadet at 7:33 AM on August 23, 2002


Summer:

There are millions of people who have been directly spoken to by the lyrics of Morrissey, who sang along to pretty guitar tunes and is nothing more than a socialist dandy fop.

Socialist dandy fop :). He he he... I'll have to remember that one :). True enough, the hippy movement may be over, but a legacy remains. Minus the delusions, it's not exactly a bad thing :).
posted by freakystyley at 7:35 AM on August 23, 2002


The weakest thing about Giordano's piece is that he didn't do any of the, you know, journalism he talks about before riffing on Eminem's mindset. Just what is Eminem's personal take on 9/11? Hearing a few quotes from him directly (not song lyrics) would have been nice. It's an interesting and provocative rant (the first time I saw "Without Me" I loved it, too), but it's too safely academic (let's micro-analyze this text and pontificate about the author for pages and pages without talking to him/her) to make its point stick very hard.

Still, I did like it. That Giordano has guts has been obvious for years; it's kind of cute to see him so worked up about an Eminem album.
posted by mediareport at 7:43 AM on August 23, 2002


We live in mediocre times when Eminem is seen as a genius.

Bush is president. We live in mediocre times.
posted by ColdChef at 7:43 AM on August 23, 2002


Yeah, that kinda backfired, didn't it :)? I guess the PMRC could either get rid of them, or have new stickers that say something along the lines of, "listening to this music is against GOD". He he...


Even if it meant that I would starve and lose my apartment and everything else, I would buy every single one of those CDs.

I've always tried to like Eminem, but I just can't. He's too much of a muppet. Sure, he says some intriguing and honest things, but much more of his stuff is too egotistical, self-referential, and just bad. Giordano's article was good, and certainly deserves merit, but I think that I'll go listen to DK instead.
posted by The Michael The at 7:56 AM on August 23, 2002


He's too much of a muppet.

Mmmm......muppets.
posted by mediareport at 8:07 AM on August 23, 2002


The Michael The:

He's too much of a muppet.

I would beg to differ. Sure, MTV's makin' millions and he's boastful, but he says a bowl full and makes his millions too. He does what he wants and doesn't quite care what the media has to say 'bout it. He's using the media to his advantage as he sees opportunity where others have seen obstacles.

But I'm still with you... I'll take DK over Eminem anytime :).
posted by freakystyley at 8:11 AM on August 23, 2002


It fascinates me how everyone who claims to like this guy's music has to be his apologist first. I think some people need to raise their standards a little above rhymed pandering screeds.
posted by rushmc at 8:31 AM on August 23, 2002


No offense, WolfDaddy, but the chances you'll be spitting in his are a lot greater than that, all things considered.

Mmm. You sure you want to give this guy that kind of longevity? I propose that our short-attention span culture will quickly forget him soon enough unless he's capable of adaption and re-invention on a much larger scale than what growth he's shown so far. For him to become a superstar that has legs, one that matters, he's gonna have to grow as a musician and a lyricist and ... do you see that happening? I don't.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:17 AM on August 23, 2002


But you have to accept that what he does is part of a recognized genre of music, and the lexicon of that genre includes words like "nigger" and "fag" and "ho".

I don't think he gets off the hook "just because everyone else does it, " because I don't think that the references are truly a part of the genre.


One of the central, archetypal figures in hip-hop discourse is the "sucker MC." You can't tell me sucker means gullible or naive in this context. Equating incompetence on the mic with homosexuality is so deeply ingrained in hip-hop, nobody even notices.
posted by hilker at 9:44 AM on August 23, 2002


freakystyley ... I would take the Sex Pistols over the Dead Kennedys over Eminem anytime.

And you are right on target with this: Everything that hardcore punk should be, but in this case, he's able to use mainstream media to his advantage.

With the help of Dr. Dre, Eminem is managing to get a message across to all the sides who care enough to listen. In contrast, the Dead Kennedys were the Sex Pistols' American political equivalent, but they didn't have the advantage of a Dr. Dre twenty years ago to get their message across to the masses. It's only been within the last few years that DK has infiltrated the mainstream, but I'd bet it's still mostly white kids listening to it.

You already knew all that didn't you? :)

Hopefully we all get the chance to go thru the cool edge period when we only listen to what everybody else isn't listening to...that's how we discovered the Dead Kennedys, the Black Flags, the Sex Pistols, the New York Dolls, the Bad Brains...on,on,on...

Most of the 19 to 23 year old crowd aren't bothering with Eminem right now...he's far too mainstream. They are too busy with the likes of Bright Eyes, Hives, and Vines. But they will come back to his message one day.

Summer...thanks for clearing it up for the Pistols. Any female over the age of 13 would know 'Bodies' is about abortion. By the way John Lydon blows them all away in my opinion. Love that guy.
posted by oh posey at 9:55 AM on August 23, 2002


Most of hardcore punk strikes me as being the opposite of Eminem. Bands like the DKs and Minor Threat made the personal subordinate to the political, because they believed in ideology, community, a movement. Ultimately, hardcore turned into groupthink, despite (because?) of the fact that Jello Biafra and Ian MacKaye turned out to be the kind of well-intentioned left-wing people who sincerely believed in what they were doing. The kind of people Eminem hates.

Eminem is more like Black Flag: "personal pain is political". No program, just anger opposed to complacency and "right-thinking". He may have a message and a platform, but he doesn't have a plan for how he's going to transform society. Which is exactly why what he's saying is interesting.
posted by fuzz at 10:52 AM on August 23, 2002


There's no way Eminem hates Ian MacKaye.
posted by sudama at 11:11 AM on August 23, 2002


oh posey:

In contrast, the Dead Kennedys were the Sex Pistols' American political equivalent, but they didn't have the advantage of a Dr. Dre twenty years ago to get their message across to the masses. It's only been within the last few years that DK has infiltrated the mainstream, but I'd bet it's still mostly white kids listening to it.

I agree... it always helps to have media-savvy promoters. The unfortunate thing about hardcore punk bands is that they're kinda designed to implode. Either 'cause they've gotten too famous to care, either 'cause their stance on capitalism leads to poor marketing and business decisions.

I'm not as inclined to believe that 19 to 23 year olds aren't bothering with Eminem, but nevertheless, you're right. People will return to Eminem in time, if political hip-hop continues its rise, and Eminem can be considered "old school".
posted by freakystyley at 11:15 AM on August 23, 2002


Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Frank Zappa?

Seriously. This sounds like my grandfather saying that "Elvis is nothing compared to Frank Sinatra." Be willing to admit that this music is not for you. You don't get it, because it wasn't meant for you.

Obviously, Eminem speaks to a lot of people. He reflects the apathy and self loathing that affect a lot of disinfranchised America. Calling his music bad is just glossing over what he's about.

Older America didn't like Bob Dylan when he first started stirring the shit up. Yes, I feel comfortable comparing Bob Dylan and Eminem.

Feel free to go on and on about your musical "pioneers", but when you wave Eminem off as being nothing more than a temporary distraction, you're showing your age.
posted by ColdChef at 12:03 PM on August 23, 2002


amen, ColdChef.

Someone mentioned that Giordano didn't do his homework. I'll second that, too. The whole Eminem vs. Moby thing gets both of them a lot of free publicity at a time when each is trying to sell a new record. Giordano takes the situation merely at face value to support his own suppositions.
posted by whatnot at 12:15 PM on August 23, 2002


support his own suppositions

... ok, I'll shut up now.
posted by whatnot at 12:17 PM on August 23, 2002


Wow, he sure did stick it to Mrs. Cheney. And he really gave the guy from NSYNC what for.

The man has a talent for rhyming and lyric and word choice, but I'll reserve my two cents on his cultural importance until he goes after Cool J, or KRS-ONE, or someone who hits back harder than his wife.
posted by britain at 12:24 PM on August 23, 2002


What ColdChef said. Just in case anyone thought I felt differently.
posted by fuzz at 12:28 PM on August 23, 2002


Despite having commented more than once in this thread, I have actually failed to form an opinion on Eminem.
posted by Summer at 12:37 PM on August 23, 2002


Hear hear, ColdChef. Well put.

As for these silly "my favorite band is more harcore and anti-establishment than you favorite band is." Come on, people. There are a million bands out there saying basically the same thing-it's just means more to you when it's said by a band and muscial genre you like. some like Eminem's style, some don't. Those who don't, look elsewhere-like the DK, Sex Pistols, etc.

Dmt: You try to dance to Moby's Thousand? Not only is it not dance-able, but I'm really glad he stopped ending great concerts with such an annoying song.
posted by aacheson at 12:50 PM on August 23, 2002


Ditto what ColdChef said. Most of those in this thread (I, for one) who gave worthy mentions of DK, Sex Pistols, Zappa, etc., have made comparisons to Eminen and given him our nod of approval and recognition. I don't think anybody here actually played the "my dick is bigger than yours" game as we all know it boils down to personal musical preference. We can all agree to that, right :)?
posted by freakystyley at 1:04 PM on August 23, 2002


Huzzah, ColdChef! Something tells me the reason why we haven't heard from Marshall's Militia on this board is because this is not a forum all the Lil' Shadys are exactly drawn to. This is really just an exercise in pontification by folks who really don't figure into the equation, as defined by the fine marketing folks at Interscope Records and Viacom.

That being said, I somehow do find myself drawn to the music. There is something about his delivery and the way he utilizes several distinct vocalizations and a musical lilt to his delivery that not many other current rappers are able to bring to the table. I find most rappers (with the exception of Eminem, Dre from Outkast, and Nelly, to name just a few that I have heard, being a 31-year old white guy) to be monotonous and able to express only a single vocal emotion (threatening, bored, lusty) over the course of several tracks. I like a little expression and variety in my music.
posted by shecky57 at 1:05 PM on August 23, 2002


People who think he's a genius because he says things to get a rise out of people should hang out with my cousin who has tourettes syndrome, because you will think he is frigging Albert Einstein.

I gotta agree with you LouieLoco, I seem to have missed the point of this article entirely. A pop musician said something anti-establishment and I'm supposed to be shocked? Since when have statements like these, which I would place at about the level of "talking shit", gotten elevated to intellectual discourse? Damn people! If you want to hear good anti-establishment white rap, I'll pull out all my old Consolidated discs for ya...

Goddamn this is madnesss its the fourth consectutive week I've had this
reoccuring nightmare of a woman who tries to walk her child to daycare they
pass a liquor store see an average looking kid running out the door in a moment
frozen they watch as he reveals a handgun terror in her voice no sound he
unloads a round her son goes down then I wake up screaming but am I dreaming
cause its just another day so many killings repeated until people have no
feeling when every two years guns take more lives than the whole vietnam war


That's from their song "Tool and Die" from the album "Play More Music" released in 1992.

I don't agree with their politics but they have got it all over Eminem and they've been doing it since 1989. The biggest fallacy of the cited article for this thread is that he lacks any corroboration that a significant portion of the 4 million or so who purchased the album are even interested in the lyrics in the manner that the writer is, which is hubris of the first order.

I do need to quote one thing from the article though that caught my interest...

"The Eminem Show" - an album released on May 26 that broke the all-time first-day (284,534 sold), first week (1,394,530 million sold), one month and two month and every other yardstick for music sales (4.3 million - four platinum albums-in-one - sold in the first nine weeks, shattering all previous records.

Remember kids, music downloads are just killing sales. Never mind that a decent rapper with style and a good sense of his audience just broke every sales record on the books, the demographic that is Eminem's market doesn't purchase music at all according to the RIAA...
posted by RevGreg at 1:20 PM on August 23, 2002


A journalist is not all ME ME ME ME. That's art.

And there you have, in a nutshell, everything that's wrong with art today.
posted by kindall at 1:32 PM on August 23, 2002


Compare away, Coldchef, but the political implications of buying an Enimem CD today is exactly equal to buying an album Frank Sinatra 78s in 1947. Or a hip hop bottle of Sprite. Or Doc Martens or anything FUBU. Zero, zippo, nada. Consumption of commodities does not equal grassroots organizing or political change. Oh, it might in this case provide a soundtrack for grassroots organizing and political change but more 'n likely it'll provide a soundtrack for sitting around and doing nothing but bullshitting about the heaviness of it all. Like in this thread.
posted by y2karl at 2:44 PM on August 23, 2002


My impression is that in today's music world, genius is equated with media-savvy. In that sense, the comparison with Elvis et al is fair enough. Whether or not you feel that the ability to rile up teenagers across the country into buying your records is worthwhile is a whole other story. It certainly matters to teenagers (and teenagers at heart), but lots of things matter to teenagers that I don't give a shit about.

That said, I'd be stunned if an Eminem 101 course appeared at any universities, even Berkeley. The existence of Eminem is worthy of study, one imagines, in the sociological sense, but I imagine you'd be hard-pressed to find a non-tenured professor who'd be willing to submit a paper on the lyrics to "My Name Is", however catchy the song may be.

If Eminem's greatest trick, though, is to be self-aware, then there isn't much to talk about. What differentiates him from any other rapper in that respect is that the response to him has been outrageous, thereby making his response to said response seem outrageous by association.

I've seen Eminem interviewed a couple of times, and the impression I got was more "serial killer" than poet. His stare is empty, his affect blank. You hope this is all an act--teenagers wouldn't respond well to a winning grin and erudite quips with Kurt Loder, after all--but something tells me it's not an act. I get the feeling watching him that Eminem is actually just a clever thug, a hustler with good instincts who's laughing at the world that's lionizing while he's explicity pointing out to them that he's deserving of none of it.

You go, Eminem. You go.
posted by vraxoin at 3:09 PM on August 23, 2002


eminem is important in the world, i think, because he speaks to poor, angry youth. that seems to be his target demographic to me. obviously, he reaches a larger group than that, and not everyone from this target group likes him. but eminem is unique in that he is a big mainstream star talking about class struggle. obviously he's not always talking about it, but it seems central to his music and central to the argument going on here.

to me, when people dismiss eminem's anger, they are dismissing the very valid anger of a whole lot of poor, uneducated kids. black or white. they're saying "your anger is just hatemongering and it doesn't have a place in polite society". that's bullshit. i think polite society, in a lot of ways, is what made these kids so angry in the first place. i think the immediate dismissal of eminem is a dismissal of the issues he raps about and the people his music reaches. which, to me, is just one step closer to saying "the poor have no right to be so angry".

yes, this article was completely overdramatic. i enjoy eminem's music as well as his "social commentary" and i still found this article kind of ridiculous. but it bothers me how easily some of the actual cogent points of the article are dismissed. like it or not, eminem is sending some sort of message to The Kids Out There, and this article was one interpretation. i like to think that eminem speaks to the anger of the lower class. someone else might think he speaks for overblown hip-hop cliches. whatever. my point is that to completely dismiss him and say he has no impact whatsoever is to completely deny his fans their anger, their intelligence, or their discerning capabilities.
posted by pikachulolita at 3:16 PM on August 23, 2002


Something tells me the reason why we haven't heard from Marshall's Militia on this board...

aww naw...

freakystyley...I mention that age group cause , well they were doing Eminem three years ago...like me. The only reason I'm back on him now is because his words are more appealing to me now than they were then. Frankly it seems to me he's not really as hostile as he was then. But I'm just over the 30 hump so what would I know? :)

"Any man with a microphone can tell you what he loves the most..." -ws
posted by oh posey at 3:36 PM on August 23, 2002


Compare away, Coldchef, but the political implications of buying an Enimem CD today is exactly equal to buying an album Frank Sinatra 78s in 1947. Or a hip hop bottle of Sprite. Or Doc Martens or anything FUBU. Zero, zippo, nada. Consumption of commodities does not equal grassroots organizing or political change.

Thank you.
posted by rushmc at 3:55 PM on August 23, 2002


Political implications? Okay, dad.
posted by ColdChef at 5:56 PM on August 23, 2002


Obviously, the Backstreet Boys speak to a lot of people.
posted by sudama at 6:16 PM on August 23, 2002


Elvis, Sinatra and the Beatles were not so unlike today's Eminiem, Brittney and N'Sync. Stay with me here.

I'd be willing to bet that many of Frank's lyrics match Birttney's in vapidity and Eminems in misogyny. The beatles started off as a nothing more than a boy band - things started getting wierd when it was discovered that they had talent and started producing stuff that was more interesting than "twist and shout". Yes they had talent - but they were a boy band first, and that's where their popularity came from. Without that - they would have been nothing more than an interesting footnote in musical history, because without the money that came from fame, they would not have had the ability to do the kinds of studio-intensive experimentation that they did.

Elvis? Elvis was a product, much like Eminem. He spent most of his early years being told what to do and when. Elvis didn't write his own music any more than Brittany does or Eminem. Dr Dre doesn't even write the music, he just steals it from other people. There's one track on the new MnM CD that completely lifts the first 30 seconds or so of Dream On by Aerosmith in the intro and then rips the chorus for the chorus of the rap. However interesting the words may be - that's just unoriginal theft. Dre is over rated.

The main difference, I think, between most of today's boy bands and those of yesteryear is that you won't really find them expanding their musical horizons like Elvis and the Beatles did. They won't be *allowed* to experiment with (gosh) writing their own music. Which is probably for the best given that they're chosen, in part, for the ability to follow directions rather than be creative.

Eminem may be the media's flavor of the month, or whatever, but he's got something most of the other muppets don't have, an interesting story to tell.

I'm with ColdChef, fuzz, and the previously mentioned Salon article on that. He's important, but not for the reasons he thinks he is.

On preview: Yes, I'm sure the backstreet boys do speak to a whole lot of people. Things is: they're not saying anything. Nothing at all, or more to the point, the same thing over and over again: oh baby. I love you. please don't go. you're the one for me.

just shoot me.
posted by jaded at 6:30 PM on August 23, 2002


Eminem is far less important than 9 out of 10 other hip hop artists. We're only discussing him because he's white.
posted by sudama at 7:33 PM on August 23, 2002


That's sort of the whole point, isn't it? As mentioned above he's the voice of "white trash america".

Wouldn't make a whole lot of sense if he was black, now would it?
posted by jaded at 7:48 PM on August 23, 2002


You should check out his new video "White America" sudama. I linked to it to start the thread off.
posted by crasspastor at 7:51 PM on August 23, 2002


What rushmc and y2karl said. Gosh, I never thought I'd say that.

This thread is like a big circle jerk, except without the penises and ejaculate and men. I'd tell you all to just go suck Mr. Eminem's cock, but he'd probably bash your brains in if you tried. He ain't no faggot after all.

Eminem is Ziggy Stardust without the sublimity, irony, brains, music, or spangled jumpsuits and makeup. Where Ziggy shrieked "You're wonderful! Gimme your hand!", Slim What's-his-name would shout "Fuck you" and kick mud in your face. And still expect you to buy his record.

In other words, he sucks. Or doesn't suck.
posted by evanizer at 8:28 PM on August 23, 2002


Political implications? Okay, dad.

Pout or punt, that is the question.

And actually, we were talking about confusing commodity fetishization for political discourse, anyway, I believe...

Evanizer! C'mon over to the other side!
posted by y2karl at 9:03 PM on August 23, 2002


I'm not signing off on the evanizer esthetic assessment, however, from the scuttlebutt, the guy evidently has something going on vis-a-vis the genre. Or doesn't exactly yet represents the collective great white hope of getting down with the brothers on the home court of hip hop culture in a substantial and authentic manner.

Of course, then there is this corporate aspect which goes beyond the individual to the institution,--the cadres of accountants, lawyers, management and men in suits taking meetings--Hey, how about he duets with Elton John at the Grammys? behind the fantasy projection screen of the real person with the real story like the bunraku ppetmaster who moves the puppets onstage so unobstrusively as to not be noticed..

Which may simply be the time honored I am a cool outsider loner and if you buy the right things you too can be a cool outsider loner like me., not unlike, say, Frank Sinatra in his time.

And what you buy is indeed important to Eminem Inc on the corporate level, just as it is to Public Enemy LTD. The tyranny of the Leibnizian windowless monad ideal consumer unit in terms of disposible income--that's politics, baby!

posted by y2karl at 9:22 PM on August 23, 2002


Well. blew that italic tag somewhere...
posted by y2karl at 9:24 PM on August 23, 2002


You should check out his new video "White America" sudama.

Thanks. I was just surprised the discussion hasn't really touched on what it means that he's white yet.
posted by sudama at 10:05 PM on August 23, 2002


What rushmc and y2karl said. Gosh, I never thought I'd say that.

That's what you get for assuming. :)
posted by rushmc at 10:35 PM on August 23, 2002


I was just surprised the discussion hasn't really touched on what it means that he's white yet

What exactly does it mean? If you assume, as you seem to be, that the only reason anyone cares is that he's a white rapper with derogatory, offensive lyrics, then I think you're missing the point. If we've got a white poor oppressed guy "speaking out" for the poor and oppressed, perhaps the message deserves all the more attention.

Eminem's filling the same role as the Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, Pennywise, and to a lesser extent, RATM, and the message is thus: "I'm poor, oppressed, and pissed about it." This ain't so different from Marley, either. If anything, it's more profound because it appeals to a larger demographic.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:59 PM on August 23, 2002


If we've got a white poor oppressed guy "speaking out" for the poor and oppressed, perhaps the message deserves all the more attention.

Eminem is oppressed? White people don't get attention paid to their needs and perspectives?

What planet are you on?
posted by sudama at 1:59 PM on August 24, 2002


Sudama: I think you're missing the point. MnM is one of the lucky ones. There is a huge underclass of poor, uneducated white people. Because they're white, they're not considered an underclass, but the fact of the matter is that their interests are not being looked out for by the powers that be.

MnM is one of the lucky ones. He managed to get out. Most of the people that are in the situation he grew up in *stay there*. He's speaking for them....to an extent.
posted by jaded at 2:33 PM on August 24, 2002


Well, I was born in a mobile home and lived the first 9 years of my life in a public housing project. My mom worked at a garment factory and raised me without the assistance of my father, who had high-tailed it to Virginia. Not that I'm complaining about this; all in all a pretty happy childhood. But it also makes me one of the "poor, oppressed white masses" that you credit eminem with giving voice to. I can honestly say that his puerile, obscene and coarse ramblings do not reflect the reality of what I (and many of your 'downtrodden' people) experienced. If you're so concerned about the downtrodden and the poor, don't you think that it would be better to advocate striving to get an education rather than listening to the nihilistic bad grammar of a pop star? Don't you think positive encouragement would be better than the grim, hopeless 'reflection' of eminem's lyrics (most of which his young target market will learn by rote repetition, like a Christian creed, and never actually think about)? Don't you think that there are enough outlets for anger, and that perhaps anger is not the most beneficial emotion to cultivate in people that you seem to be concerned about?

Just some thoughts. I believe that many of these pop music acts credited with 'reflecting the attitudes of the poor and oppressed' actually create these attitudes rather than reflect existing ones.

I hate when anyone presumes to "speak for me". I have a voice, and I'm perfectly capable of speaking for myself. If every 'oppressed' person took this philosophy to heart, perhaps we'd really hear what people are thinking, rather than hearing the sound of them nodding in agreement to the nursery rhymes of a post-pubescent rich boy with a turgid ego. But then we'd never sell so many records.
posted by evanizer at 4:17 PM on August 24, 2002


I don't think MnM "means" to be speaking "for you". I think what it really comes down to is that he's rapping about what he knows. The stories he's telling, and the life he's describing are, to a large extent, his stories, his life and his fantasies. That's what most "artists" do - they work with what they know.

Most people believe that the life he's describing is the sole providence of the "black" gangsta rapper. Many people have this idea that it's just black culture that has these problems. Black rappers have been talking about this crap from just about day one. And "black" gangsta rap has had it's fair share of content based controversy. Now, nobody cares - it's just part of the genre. But as soon as a white guy does it, there's something wrong with it.

Why does the fact that he's white matter? Because we're a bunch of fucking racists, is why. We refuse to believe that one of "our people" could be such a degenerate, and when faced with the reality of that and the fact that there are millions out there just like him, we get uncomfortable.

He doesn't "speak for" white trash america in a real sense, but in a literary criticism sense. If you (the royal you, not you specifically, e) remove the blinders of prejudice, and look at the works as a whole with an analytical eye, his work is interesting, and possibly important. The fact that he's white shouldn't matter - but it does, and that's important. The fact of the matter is, millions of people are buying it because they believe it speaks to and for them - the reasons for that are worth looking into.

The fact that so many people feel the "truth" of his words or look up to the lifestyle he present is (to me) more than a little disturbing, and it's something that needs attention.
posted by jaded at 7:46 PM on August 24, 2002


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