This article purposely combines both highly speculated titles for Eminem’s upcoming album. An album that Marshall Mathers recently announced on NYC radio Hot’97.
After a few years break , Slim Shady’s return seems to be imminent, which constitutes an event in itself.
After the rumors of his early retirement that go back to 2005, despite a strong denial from the artist himself, many listeners, fans and maybe even close friends kept asking themselves if Eminem had decided to work more in the field of producing or if he simply buried his evil character for good.
But maybe Eminem’s return will not be musically written in the same terms as expected. Maybe Eminem intends to come up with a brand new style. If he doesn’t, he might resurrect Slim Shady from his grave, who knows?
At the time I am writing those lines, those are only empty suppositions. All we can do is wait and see.
Eminem is truly a phenomenon in rap history. His detractors pretend that he used his skin color to reach the top more easily.
Matter of fact: among all white rapping artists (pardon me, I really hate talking about an artist’s skin color, but this element is necessary, if I want to prove my point), Eminem is the only one with a worldwide mainstream appeal in the world of hip hop.
Actually, Eminem is one of the most talked about contemporary rap artists.
Many people tried to imitate his style, but all of them failed before they achieved anything consistent.
So, why did Eminem, also known to the public as Marshall Mathers, have such an impact in hip hop?
The first reason is undeniably Eminem’s brilliance. The more I got in depth in studying his music through the years, the more his intelligence in handling compound syllables, his subtle sense of humor, his ability to use his own weaknesses to his greatest advantage, his honesty in describing true life situations he went through, impressed me.
Some people always objected that Eminem owes everything to Dr Dre. If it is true that brilliance isn’t everything in the merciless world of the music industry, Eminem’s early work is the full expression of a musical genius.
A song like Biterphobia is a subtle musical composition, lyrically and instrumentally as well. It was released in 1994. One could barely object that the young Marshall Mathers had the means to pay a ghostwriter at time he was struggling to survive, which means the young man was a true (undiscovered) lyrical genius. Other songs from the Slim Shady EP do carry the same brilliance in the writing; one has to admit that the early Eminem excels in storytelling.
Second handedly, and whether his detractors like it or not, Eminem is credible as a white man in a black man’s world.
As he stated it in a former interview that goes back to 1999, Marshall Mathers used to live across the black side of 8 Mile, because his mom couldnâ€˜t afford to pay the rent on the white side.
Totally immersed into hip hop culture since his uncle Ronnie introduced him into Ice T’s Breaking CD, Eminem also grew up into the harsh world of 8 Mile where had to fight for his dream to come true, despite the racial tension that was prevailing in the early 90’s.
Also and despite climate of hatred and suspicion between black and white communities, Marshall Mathers built some true friendships with his black fellows. D 12 isn’t a group that was born by professional interest like it often happens in the music industry , but it resulted from brothers (RIP Proof is the main founder of the group) who shared the same passion for the vibe.
Third, one should also recall that Eminem does not conform with the usual artistic stereotype.
His down to earth attitude, his self hatred, his honesty in exposing ugly facts and situations, his modest origins, his approachability in terms of sharing his life story details soon made a very likable person of Eminem in hip hop fans’ eyes.
Eminem soon became the example of somebody people could relate to. His acclaim is totally justified in that way, because he managed to break the distance between artist and listener, creating an unprecedented closeness and complicity with the fan.
Maybe Eminem is also the prototype of a walking contradiction: his generosity in exposing quantity of details from his life story soon became the boomerang that would hit him hard in terms of the liberty he was longing for. Stalkers of all kind would soon make his private life a living nightmare.
Since he was catapult to the top to now, Eminem has offered his listeners a prolific work with very various artistic collaborations.
His second album, the Marshall Mathers LP, probably tops any other of his albums, because it is a subtle combination of poetry, creativity, social commentary, shock value, an invaluable sense of humor-at least in my eyes. Moreover, Marshall Mathers is an artist who managed to create specific atmosphere thanks to his subtle mastery of the English language.
A song like Stan has the depth of Rimbaud’s poem Le Dormeur Du Val. Like the French poet, Eminem draws a picture that is getting more dramatic and darker as times goes by.
Further on, the 8 Mile Road song, for instance, is built on similar [i] sounds that imply a constant struggle. A similar structure can also be found in Yellow Brick Road, a subtle syllabic word construction that will remain an attentive ear of the monotonous sound of a train on the rails.
Very few songs surpass Drug Ballad, a beautiful instrumental and word combination that allows the listener to enter into the forbidden world of a drug addict, making him feel the sensation of drowning into the alcohol. The instrumentals truly make you feel the infernal spiral in which the addict is caught with no way to escape.
Encore is probably the worst of his albums. Despite a few well written songs like Mosh, it indicated some artistic fatigue and some of its themes need to be renewed. The commercial dimension of some songs in Encore really disappointed me.
By stating this a while, I raised some controversy. But I really don’t care.
I’m not here to praise Eminem in any case. As a music journalist, I am here to offer an honest and objective perception of the artist from a professional point of view. I owe my readers the truth.
Eminem’s force also lies in the fact that he manages to use the darkest life situations he went through in order to transform them into artistic creativity.
Since 2005, Eminem has been through very painful events. His best friend Proof’s death is probably one of the worst sorrows a human being can go through. I trust Eminem’s will to honor his friend s memory will allow him to dig out of his heart the most beautiful and creative lyrical treasures.
Then the world will be truly be his for the taking because the crowd of listeners will be touched and crown its king of the mic for a standing ovation.
Copyright 2007 by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved