Jewish World Review
June 13, 2000 /10 Sivan, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THE NATION'S leading cultural critics are in love with a thuggish performer who calls himself "Eminem." He's a white rapper armed with a 9mm Smith & Wesson in one hand, two Grammys in the other, and a filthy mouth full of expletives.
You wouldn't know that from the music reviews. Eminem's work demonstrates "visceral clarity and squealing, minimalist drive," gushes New York Times cultural critic Neil Strauss. The 27-year-old celebrity, born Marshall Mathers, "is blessed with the ability to make any two words with a letter in common rhyme, filling his albums with a logorrhea brimming with complex internal rhyme schemes and rhythmic repetitions." ("Logorrhea?" I had to look it up, too.)
N'Gai Croal of Newsweek agrees with Strauss. In her flatulent music review, she embraced Eminem as a "lyrical arsonist" who is "arguably the most compelling figure in all of pop music." Will Hermes of Entertainment Weekly also swooned: "Eminem proves himself a peerless rap poet with a profound understanding of the power of language."
So what does this esteemed Robert Frost of rap write about, exactly? Most of his critically-acclaimed rhythmic repetitions end in "-uck," "-it," and "-itch." The grand themes of his Grammy-winning debut album, "The Slim Shady LP," revolve around hatred of his mother, hatred of his girlfriend, love of drugs, rape, and murder. Eminem, you see, was beaten up in school and had a crummy home life. Croal explains that " the rapper's sociopathic facade masks the lingering hurts of his Dickensian childhood."
The most infamous track, "'97 Bonnie and Clyde," relates a tale of Eminem and his baby daughter taking a trip to the beach to dump his murdered girlfriend's body: "Here, you wanna help da-da tie a rope around this rock?/We'll tie it to her footsie then we'll roll her off the dock…" In "Role Model," he strikes a sneering pose of contrition: "Mother.. are you there? I love you/I never meant to hit you over the head with that shovel."
Eminem's follow-up album, "The Marshall Mathers LP," was released two weeks ago and skyrocketed to the top of the pop charts. This profanity-laced opus expands on his critically-acclaimed themes – raping his mother, killing his wife, and glorifying drug use. The first piece on the album is titled "Kill You." One verse sing-songs: "Okay, I'm ready to go play/ I got the machete from O.J./ I'm ready to make/Everyone's throats ache." The chorus taunts: "You don't wanna [expletive] with Shady/ 'Cause Shady, will [expletive] kill you (ah-ha-ha)."
In another murderous fantasy titled "Kim," the name of his real wife, Eminem (or is it his alter ego Slim Shady or his true self, Marshall Mathers, who knows?) screams: "Don't you get it [expletive], no one can hear you?/Now shut the [expletive] up and get what's comin to you/ You were supposed to love me (sound of woman choking)/Now bleed! [Expletive] bleed! Bleed! [Expletive] bleed!
Peerless. Profound. Powerful. Someone give this guy an NEA grant.
Eminem's groupies in the press are willing to overlook his twisted misogyny and relentless hate because, they say, it's all in the spirit of harmless creativity and hip irony. There's a Slim Shady in all of us, Neil Strauss argues. "[H]e's having so much fun that you can't help but laugh--even as you're horrified," rejoices the Washington Post's Alona Wartofsky. And as Eminem himself explained in a recent MTV interview: "I feel like my music is my therapy. Because once I sit down and write, I get everything off my chest…I get all my aggression out in the studio."
Well, not all of it. Earlier this week, Eminem was charged in Macomb County, Mich., with two felony counts of carrying a concealed weapon and assault with a deadly weapon. He was arrested last weekend after allegedly hitting a man over the head with his 9mm Smith & Wesson and threatening to kill him for kissing his wife. The victim isn't laughing. Neither are prosecutors.
Eminem is just the latest dysfunctional spawn of our Jerry Springer
society. Sooner or later, he'll self-destruct. The real threat to our
cultural health are those entrenched media intellectuals, lounging
backstage with lattes and laptops in hand, who sanction garbage as art,
expletives as entertainment, and violent perversion as lyrical
06/07/00: "Pained" Dem leader Torricelli deserves to feel some; Why hasn't he?