I recently entered the local Newbury Comics store looking for something, but nothing in particular. On impulse I ended up buying the new Eminem album The Eminem Show. I have a love/hate relationship with Eminem. I dislike rap on the whole, and I think he’s nothing more than a quickly fading act. Marilyn Manson without the makeup. Yet I must admit that I enjoyed the Marshall Mathers LP, or at least the beginning. The first 6-7 songs I found not only catchy, but the lyrics actually told stories. Unlike the majority of music today, he does more than just use words that rhyme for the sake of a catchy song. Instead, he weaves some of his thoughts and some social commentary into everything he writes. In “Kill You” he talked about his mother, and how he grew up being told that his father was an evil man. Eventually, he learned the truth, which was that his mother was actually the “asshole”. Then in “Stan” he tells the story of an obsessive fan that takes his idolization of Eminem to dangerous levels. The second half of the CD got a bit repetitious and the songs weren’t even very “catchy” in my opinion. The reason why I can listen to Eminem despite not being a follower of rap or hip-hop is because of his lyrics. I can accept a CD with mindless lyrics, as long as I can really get into the beat. With rap, I can rarely enjoy a song musically, but with Eminem the lyrics can salvage the songs for me. So I’m going into The Eminem Show expecting that same sort of lyrical passion, although a bit veiled under his need for attention and vulgar language.
Track 2 is titled “White America.” At first glance this wouldn’t seem like the type of song a white rapper would have on his album. You’d think it’s about how America is run by caucasians, but it’s actually about the caucasian segment of rap listeners. He sings:
“Erica loves my shit, I go to TRL, look how many hugs I get. Look at these eyes, baby blue, baby just like yourself, if they were brown Shady lose, Shady sits on the shelf, but Shady’s cute, Shade knew Shady’s dimples would help.”
The lyrics of this song are interesting in that he completely lays out his own act. The reason he’s so popular is that he’s white, and the white rap listeners now have someone to follow. A majority of rap listeners are teenage girls, who have no idea what they’re listening to. They’re simply subconsciously following pop culture, which is now fixated on hip-hop. So now, this “cute, blue-eyed guy” who not only keeps them in the majority, but they probably have a crush on him too. Obviously, this song has some self-gratification, as is much of what he sings. He honestly believes that America is in an uproar over him, while it’s just a small group of very vocal conservative parents. Nonetheless, it’s funny to see him be open about his own image.
Later in the song he basically lays out what he believes to be the reason why he’s picked out of the crowd of rappers. He gives a good point in saying he’s not the first rapper to make fun of gay people, or “smack a bitch.” He’s simply a poster child, which is true. Those in government power have children that are listening to his CD’s. White governors whose white suburban daughters are listening to this “filth” at home. Ergo, the targeting of Eminem himself.
“White America” is his most well written song, but there are others as well. “Cleaning out my Closet” is about his mother, “Square Dance” speaks a about the Bush administration and male teens not paying attention to what’s going on, until it’s too late and they’re at boot camp. “Say Goodbye Hollywood” talks about how Kim (his ex-wife) is messing up his life, and how he wants to leave the limelight to get away from all the B.S. that comes with fame. While others, such as the first single “Without Me,” are simply written to be catchy. He spits out a random assortment of pseudo-controversial things, basically exploiting himself. Mindlessly going back to his formulaic song pattern, which originally made him popular.
Overall, I’m happy with my purchase. Obviously, not every song is going to be a well written, but most are at least musically appealing and will make you “bob your head,” like the multitude of MTV-pop-culture-preteens that most E2 noders probably make fun of. Truth is, everything Eminem says is a glorified version of himself. Making himself seem like a victim, instead of a thug. Yes, a majority of what he says about himself is probably hot air, but that doesn’t turn me off. When you read a book, do you say it stinks because it’s a work of fiction? No, Tim O’Brien’s books are amazing, even though he writes in the middle of it that everything he writes is fiction. These are my feelings towards this album. He’s full of himself, but I’ll commend someone when they deserve it, even if I think that person is a dreg to society.
All comments / criticisms / editing tips appreciated. Just message me, Woburn.