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Eminem vs. Paul Simon.
February 6, 2001 10:11 PM   Subscribe

Eminem vs. Paul Simon. And the Grammy goes to...
posted by oh posey (28 comments total)

 
Can there even be a serious question as to which man made a greater contribution to popular music in 2000? Paul Simon's album was more of the same old "experimentation" that he's been piddling with for the last few years. Eminem's album has been universally acclaimed for months on end. And yet this whole article can be boiled down to, "Paul's a much nicer guy, so he should get the Grammy."
posted by aaron at 10:45 PM on February 6, 2001


Aaron, "experimentation" often leads to "innovation", which in turn, leads to "evolution".

Paul Simon should get the Grammy. Then he should use it to beat Eminem to death.


posted by Optamystic at 10:53 PM on February 6, 2001


Often it does. This time it didn't. Artistically, "You're the One" is a dud.
posted by aaron at 10:56 PM on February 6, 2001


Anyone who begrudges this decision, might well console themselves with the fact that awards are ultimately meaningless, and the greatest artists (that trait unfortunately not encompassing Eminem) generally generally spend the greater part of their lifetime unacknowledged and destitute (which even more unfortunately does not apply to Eminem)
posted by lucien at 12:20 AM on February 7, 2001


Seriously, when was the last time the Grammys picked winners based on artistic merit? Their voting process is idiotic. From what I understand, every member of the academy votes on every category. Because of this, you have polka players voting on "best hip hop artist" or whatever. So basically they end up voting for whoever's name is most familiar. "Santana, I remember that guy. Got a lot of nominations, must be good!" Check.


posted by mzanatta at 12:46 AM on February 7, 2001


Eminem is not "universally acclaimed"; the Times article is one of a number of sources that do not acclaim Eminem.

Eminem has sold a large number of recordings, largely to little girls who, when their mothers aren't listening, get a giggly kick out chanting perverse little ditties that sound like nursery rhymes or jump-roping songs rewritten by the D-grade sexually frustrated early teen slouching in the back of the classroom.

He is trying desperately to get anyone's attention and some of the little girls are giving it to him. He wants to kill his mommy. He wants to rape that singer he saw in a video. He hates boy bands and "faggots" and Britney Spears and Christine Aguilera.

Oh, dear. Did little Marshall have a bad day in school?

The boy needs a shrink, not a record contract.
posted by pracowity at 12:56 AM on February 7, 2001


The current cultural spat around Eminem himself doesn't bother me much. Eminem is a screwed-up individual whose records I enjoy hugely for the music and the delivery and some of the jokes: I personally don't take the content any more (or less) seriously than I take Optamystic's suggesiton that Simon beat Eminem to death with a Grammy. (Actually Optamystic, that's quite a strong image - have you thought of getting a record contract?)

What does annoy me a bit is the way the debate has shifted from the previously linked Salon piece (message: hip-hop is good but Eminem is a disgrace) to the tone of this NY article which uses Eminem's current success to get some digs in at hip-hop in general (cf. also the tone of the backlash over here. The writer's windy assertion that hip-hop is somehow divorced from African-American music tradition pretty much renders anything else he says about the music nonsense, in my eyes.

And if people are getting annoyed at his nomination for a Grammy, just wait until they see him compared to Robert Browning.
posted by freakytrigger at 2:13 AM on February 7, 2001


> just wait until they see him compared to
> Robert Browning.

Tom, I read that article, too.

I thought the author made a reasonable point -- "The mistake his critics make is to see the songs as direct statements by the singer rather than discrete aesthetic objects." -- but I don't think Eminem is that bright. Instead, he appears to be simply saying what he means. Or do you think it's all a show and that he really likes gays and so on?

Also, this is giving Eminem far too much credit:

"The irony in these lines is delicious, but just how good are Eminem's lyrics? Is all the fuss about him justified, or is it a case of hype over substance? In fact, a brief examination of Stan reveals it to have all the depth and texture of the greatest examples of English verse."

Delicious irony? Depth and texture of the greatest examples of English verse? Is this guy taking the piss?


posted by pracowity at 3:16 AM on February 7, 2001


Was it me. or did the original article appear tinged with racism?

My problem with rap (and by Rap I mean black music)

[it has]

broken faith with the surpassingly great, centuries- long tradition of black music in America (they used to be so artistic with their blues music and their rhythmn)

Is it me or is the centuries-long tradition of black music in america linked with the whole, you know, slavery/opression/genocide thing.

we get, for the most part, infantile rhymes, and sometimes not even rhymes — just gibberish. (Eh?)

Eminem has latched onto this betrayal and is running with it (Oh, so because he's white he's latched on to this black music tradition has he)


Oh, and "What is the artistic value here? Trust me, it's not the music" I always go to Paul Simon fans for my taste tests.

One final note, just below the line "the price that we pay when evil walks the planet and love is crushed like clay." it says Sponsored by Nortel Networks. Hmmmmm.
posted by fullerine at 3:39 AM on February 7, 2001


Pracowicity - I think sadly that Eminem means it when he says he doesn't like gays, and I think his issues with women are 'for real' too. I think he's probably a quite unpleasant person, to be honest. I think at the same time he's aware of his playing a role in a lot of his songs, dramatising particular impulses. He's maybe not an especially bright individual, but he's got a solid grasp of the kind of persona-play and self-mythologising that hip-hop goes in for. So when I say I don't take him seriously, I mean that he doesn't mean some of what he says, and that I'm not going to let myself be influenced by the rest.

Does this make him a poet? Does it arse, any more than it makes Browning a rapper. But it makes him more interesting than most pop performers, Paul Simon included: it's intriguing that the anti-Eminem articles almost always leave out "Stan" (his most explicit it's-not-for-real statement) just like the pro-Eminem articles don't look too deeply into "Marshall Mathers" and "Kim".

Fullerine - I think there was a certain amount of conservatism in the article, a wish to fix 'black music' into particular modes: whether that's racism or not I don't know.
posted by freakytrigger at 4:01 AM on February 7, 2001


March 15, 2041
Stockholm, Sweden---

Dr. Marshall Mathers today received perhaps the greatest of his many honors when he was awarded his seventh straight Nobel Prize for Literature. Doctor Mathers, known to many as Eminem, is the only person in history to win the award more than once, in fact, The Nobel Foundation's bylaws were rewritten specifically to allow for Doctor Mathers to win repeatedly, since it is the consensus opinion of all literate humans that he is, indeed, the greatest poet, and perhaps the greatest man, of all time.

In his humble and understated acceptance speech, Doctor Mathers, who still answers to his former moniker, gave "shout-outs" to his early influences, among them, noted Twentieth Century free speech pioneer Luther Campbell. Mathers also reflected on his impressive career, saying, in part:
"Yo, thanks for this shit, ya'll. Yo, I thought being named Poet Laureate of the World was tha bomb. THEN, I though readin' my shit at President Winfrey's inauguration was the biz-nomb. But this shit, yo, this here's the soopa-biznomb. Word."

Doctor Mathers' words were greeted with frenzied applause. As has happened twice before, the crowd demanded that he accept the Crown of Emporer of the Earth. As usual, Mathers declined, saying that he is a "poet, not an emporer, yo". But he said that next time the offer is made, he may accept. This brought a thunderous shout from the crowd. We will have more on this story as it develops.
posted by Optamystic at 4:13 AM on February 7, 2001


Right now, Eminem is an example of America's long standing musical history. All forms of black music in the beginning were criticized by the greater society. Then this same society adopted these musical forms as its own, for example, negro spirituals (gospel), blues, jazz, rock-n-roll and now hip hop music. Now each of these forms are used in sporting events, movies, and commericals to entertain mainstream America.

Eminem represent the rage of the young white male, anti-establishment, dysfunctional homelife, and anti-anything different from him. Remember he sold 1.3 million in the first week, more than any other rap artist. Remember majority of the rap albums are bought by suburban white teenagers. Remember the white youth culture in the US has always accepted new musical forms before their elders did. In 2050, VH-1 will do a Behind The Music on this issue.

Don't criticize him for speaking his mind, instead criticize the record company who makes millions of dollars from him speaking his mind. If they wanted his rage and hatred to stop reaching consumers, advertisers and his record company could pull the plug.
posted by passionblack at 5:35 AM on February 7, 2001


about eminem -- i dunno if he means this stuff or not. i suspect mostly it's just that there's a market for it, and he's made money from that. plus, he's from warren.

about paul simon's new album -- bits of it are great, bits of it come off as, well, not so great. somewhat strained, lyrically, although part of that may just be him singing it, I've seen in his past few albums lines I could see someone like Neil Innes having a field day with; he doesn't.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:42 AM on February 7, 2001


If Eminem were to say the kinds of things that he has about women and gays except in the context of African-Americans, I have a feeling all the hip-hop artists that currently support him would no longer believe in his right to say what he feels based on how he grew up. Especially if he himself were not a rapper. Or am I wrong?
posted by crushed at 6:48 AM on February 7, 2001


crushed

you probably right about who would support him, they wouldn't in fact he probably would have gotten his a## kicked a long time ago. Once again its only a matter of time, he hates his mother, his wife, women, gays, other white music groups, so its only a matter of time before he talks about blacks too. And when that happens I wouldn't be surprised if records sells went even higher. Right now, all his music is produced by black males in a culture dominated by black males, but financially consumed mostly by white teenagers.

Also let's not forget he represents that often untalked about class "poor white americans", there's some rage happening their open your ears and listen. And Eminem is the spokesperson.
posted by passionblack at 8:39 AM on February 7, 2001


He's not untalented, but people who think Eminem is the best writer of rhymes alive today must not listen to much hip hop.
posted by jennyb at 8:45 AM on February 7, 2001


Actually, jennyb, most of the things I've read about Eminem (I can't say I'm a fan, but in fairness, Paul Simon lost my interest with everything after Rhythm of the Saints) praise him not because he writes such amazing rhymes, but because he delivers them with a grace and fluidity and techniqe that hasn't been seen before in the genre. From what (admittedly limited) stuff of his I've heard, I'd have to (admittedly limitedly) agree.
posted by Skot at 8:52 AM on February 7, 2001


. . . not that anyone should listen to somebody who can't be bothered to know how to spell "technique."
posted by Skot at 8:59 AM on February 7, 2001


Often Grammys are given out for mediocre albums as kind of "lifetime achievement awards." Sounds like that's what happened with Simon, and for that matter Santana.
posted by kindall at 9:01 AM on February 7, 2001


I don't see the point in arguing whether Em beleives the stuff he says, or is just doing it as a persona.

Do we judge Paul Simon by the content of his lyrics? Can any of you even rattle off a few lines from his most recent album? Maybe its because the content of his songs are of no consequence. Heck, he might as well be singing Britney Spears lyrics - they have about the same depth.

Em lyrics are witty, insightful and hateful all at the same time. Its no easy thing to make banter about killing his wife and popping vicadin memorable - but he's done it.
posted by schlyer at 9:07 AM on February 7, 2001


OK, Skot, I change that to "people who think Eminem delivers his rhymes with a grace and fluidity and technique that hasn't been seen before in the genre" must not listen to much hip hop. Like I said, he's not without talent, but you can be talented AND socially conscious AND speak your mind. Unfortunately, Eminem might be the only rapper with this fluid delivery to which many of his supporters have been exposed.

I will readily agree that in the state of popular (as in music most people have heard of) music (rap, pop, country, and that watered down pap Paul Simon puts out these days) there is a dearth of meaningful, intelligent, creative, original noise.

It's like that old Eddie Murphy skit about how a saltine is the best tasting food to a starving person. Eminem is just a cracker for a hungry populous.
posted by jennyb at 9:21 AM on February 7, 2001


Passionblack - Eminem isn't likely to start railing against African-Americans any time soon: in fact if there's one group he seems to like less than gay men, it's the angry white fans you're saying he represents. The subtext of most of his recent album is that he doesn't represent anything or anyone, and he's got the i-hate-my-fans thing down better than anyone since Kurt Cobain to prove it.

Skot - he's got good technique, but more to the point he's got a very idiosyncratic technique, approaching the material more like a goofy stand-up comedian than like the more traditional rappers jennyb's recommending. Which, as much as his colour and marketing, is why he's crossing over and they aren't.
posted by freakytrigger at 9:22 AM on February 7, 2001


...the content of his songs are of no consequence. Heck, he might as well be singing Britney Spears lyrics - they have about the same depth.

schyler, are you talking about Simon's latest album only, or the body of his lyrical work? Because, although I haven't listened to the latest album yet, I would take great issue with this statement if it refers to Simon's previous work, as well.
posted by daveadams at 10:02 AM on February 7, 2001


dave - just Simon's latest album.
posted by schlyer at 11:31 AM on February 7, 2001


Come on, you think he gives a damn about a Grammy?, the critics can't stomach him let alone stand him. ;)

OK, seriously now, as much as Em's message isn't the greatest one for kids, you have to admit that he's a great rapper in his own right. There's some b-cuts of him freestylin' out there and it's just amazing. People are just throwing him words and ideas, and he's turning them into rhymes on the spot. Don't know how many rappers are quick enough to think stuff up that fast. You can probably find some of these freestyle tracks on Napster if you look hard enough.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2001


jennyb: I listen to a lot of hip hop. Eminem is one of the top 5 rappers I've heard, ever (and he's not number 4 or 5). Like PWA sez, he's f*cking crazy freestyle, and has some incredibly complex rhyme schemes.
If he'd ditch Dr. Dre and get, say, Cut Chemist to produce his music ;) that'd be even cooler.

posted by sonofsamiam at 12:26 PM on February 7, 2001


He's a minstrel show.
posted by rodii at 4:38 PM on February 7, 2001


Intelligence to me encompasses some ability to empathise.

Eminem only has the ability to empathise with himself, it seems, and people who identify with him. While some music lovers choose to comment on his structure and rhythm, I cannot divorce the message from the content.

Not the first misogynist rapper, certainly the most over-exposed. I have no doubt he is popular with a proportion of the young male market, that he has some talent. That doesn't alter my point of view.

It's nice to be told that one is getting a bad deal in life, that one deserves more, for whatever reason. One of the tried and proven tactics that politicians and leaders of state have used, throughout the ages.

Much harder to see things through other's eyes. Easier to accept simplistic messages, delivered in a hypnotic rhythmic style, as is the best propaganda.
posted by lucien at 2:07 AM on February 9, 2001


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