Now that the Grammy Awards are over and most of the hype has died down over Eminem, I think now is the time to review the recording that has gotten so many people upset. Despite what you may have heard about Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, or what you may think of him, hearing this album you may make you rethink your opinion of him.
I borrowed the CD from a friend just because I wanted to listen to "The Real Slim Shady" because as far as I was concerned, that was the only song worth listening to. Well I just happened to let the rest of the CD run and what I heard shocked, amazed, disgusted, surprised, made me laugh and entertained me all at once. "The Marshall Mathers LP" picks up where Eminem left off with his life and music in "The Slim Shady LP". Yes, it is true he does rap about drugs, violence, raping his mother, killing his (soon to be ex) wife, the ills of society, hypocrisies, homosexuals, bubble gum pop, and the media. However, there isn't a word that does not ring true, and that is why people are pissed off. He tackles issues without reservation and has given the music world some hard-core lyrics that haven't been heard since the days of NWA and Public Enemy. As Eminem says on the track "The Real Slim Shady":
I'm like a head trip to listen to cuz I'm only giving you
Things you joke about with your friends inside your living room
The only difference is I got the balls to say it
In front of y'all and I don't gotta be false or sugar coated at all
The truth is not kind, and neither is he. He mentions the ultra-sensitive Columbine issue and how suddenly school violence is a problem since it is affecting affluent suburbs in "The Way I am". He points out that the parents who blame his music for their son's foul language are the same ones who let their preteen daughters wear cosmetics in "Who Knew".
Eminem also deals with issues of a personal nature, outside of his mother and spousal problems. The songs "Who Knew" and "The Way I Am" and "I'm Back" are personal diatribes to the media, detractors, and fans concerning how his fame influences the actions of other people and that he is not to blame as a result of those actions. He snickers that people expect him to "clean up [his] lyrics, while our President gets his dick sucked?" You can not only hear, but also feel the angst and frustration in his voice during these songs. This is clearly a man who is fed up with being blamed for the tribulations of humanity.
Now, some of the songs, I admit do get your attention and upon hearing them one can understand why feminist and gay rights groups are up in arms. The song "Kill You" is very misogynistic, where he simply states, "Bitch I'ma kill you!" and "Just bend over and take it slut, okay Ma?" and "Kim" which starts out as a lullaby to his 2 year old daughter, but quickly turns into a graphic and vicious narration of a fantasy to kill his estranged wife, Kim (any wonder she's filed for divorce?).
Then you just have some songs that simply there for gansta/outta-da-hood value. Such as "Remember Me", "Amityville", "The Drug Ballad", "Bitch Please II", and "Under The Influence", and "Criminal". You either will or won't like these songs, but other tracks of note on the LP such as "Marshall Mathers" are very introspective and "Stan" demonstrates Eminem's writing talent and story telling ability.
The album also features Dr. Dre (who produced the record), Snoop Dogg, RBX, Sticky Fingaz, D-12, Xzibit, and Dido whose sampled voice adds a silky effect to "Stan", the tale about an obsessed fan who goes off the edge, literally. Also on the album are 4 skits that are interspersed between selected tracks to add effect and make it someone of a concept album, similar to what Janet Jackson did on "Rhythm Nation: 1814"
The only problem I have with this album is if he doesn't care what people think or the media, or his wife, then why does he dedicate so much time rapping about them?
Is Eminem serious about what he raps? I don't know, nor do I care. This is entertainment and Mathers knows it. He is a brilliant wordsmith who knows how to stir emotions of all kinds, and while some do it in books, he does it to a beat. This man indeed has talent; he just harnesses and expresses it in a different, if controversial way. This album is full of dark humor and gritty truth. This album is raw and not for the faint of heart or easily offended. This album is formidable and excellent in every regard. Despite your feelings about the subject matter, creatively and artistically this is a fine piece of work. If you like hip-hop, this CD should be in your collection. If rap isn't in your repertoire, you should at least listen to it once. It will rouse feelings and reactions in you that you may be surprised to find that you had. This should have been the 2001 Album of the Year. The next day I gave my friend his CD back, because halfway through it, I was already at the music store buying my own copy. If you already haven't, I suggest you do the same.
The Real Czarina
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