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Without a doubt, the most famous media pop culture is the genre called Rap (Armstrong). Today nearly all the American adolescent merit rap as their most liked genre in music, and it has attained global recognition.(Armstrong). Today worldwide each country has been featuring some type of rap music (Armstrong). A subgenre in a rap that is the most popular is a gangsta rap and that artists in the genre has been making types of rap that is classified as an “alternative” or part of the “non-gangsta wing of hip-hop” (Armstrong). Today, one of the biggest stars in a gangster rap is named Eminem. While many have believed that Eminem’s music is damaging the reputations of American Whites and African Americans, many believe that his influence has significantly positively impacted the genres of hip hop and rap.
The enormous and most famous gangster rap artist is Marshall Mathers III aka Eminem. Eminem’s, name matches saying his initials, “M&M.” The nickname, Slim Shady is also used by Marshall Mathers III. The nickname was applied to Eminem by various music composers and artists with “Em.” Eminem became a symbol and faith of the music industry in 2002 (Armstrong). The film introduction by Eminem to the partial story of life called 8 Mile. Out of 296 films released in 2002, Eminem had the eighth largest launch week money and won for him a critical acclaim award (Armstrong). For the best collection of rap, Eminem has continuously won Grammys. The respect was earned by the Slim Shady LP trailed by his 2000 discharge The Marshall Mathers LP. He last became the fastest-selling rap collection ever, the fastest-selling performance craftsman collection ever, and the second fastest-selling collection ever in 1999. As a part of the “Up in Smoke” tour, most successful rap tour ever, Eminem joined luminary gangsta artists like Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre in 2000. Then, Pollstar’s editorial manager, Gary Bongiovanni, a show exchange distribution industry, accurately anticipated the outcome of the visit: “Planning couldn’t have been exceptional… Eminem brings a tremendous multifaceted intrigue.” (Armstrong) The notoriety of Eminem is such that the New York Times announced gossip that Time magazine would name Eminem as its “Man of the Year” (Armstrong). In Summer 2001, when it was released, Eminem’s gatherings, D-12, saw its Devil’s Night moves to number 1 in the graphs. The Eminem Show, and the 8-Mile soundtrack did likewise a year later. The previous one was the year’s biggest selling collection. The hot 100 graph of the Bulletin positioned “Lose Yourself,” an 8-Mile melody, number 1 over the last nine weeks of 2002 (Armstrong). Journalists have declared 2002 “the Year of Eminem” (Armstrong). Given these things of mainstream culture conspicuousness, it is astonishing that researchers have disregarded Eminem. However, there has been problems that Eminem has to face in his career such as being homophobic and being sexist.
The young Eminem rapped lines such as “Blacks and whites they sometimes mix, but black girls only want your money cause they’re dumb chicks” and “Black girls and white girls just don’t mix because black girls are dumb and white girls are good chicks.” Eminem may have apologized, citing his youth and a breakup with an African-American girlfriend a short time before the songs were recorded, but to The Source co-owners David Mays and Ray “Benzino” Scott, Eminem’s dangerous influence goes way beyond these racist raps. They may go after hip-hop’s biggest star with an eagerness bordering on religious fervor, but the two insist their anger stems from a perversion of what they perceive as the essence of hip-hop. They feel Eminem’s immense success has sucked the attention away from black hip-hop artists and forced them to seek attention with ever-more outrageous lyrics. The magazine also hopes to use Eminem’s songs as the jumping-off point for a broader discussion of racial issues in hip-hop. (Glenn)
Eminem turned hip hop into a commercial world-conqueror. Eminem acts as if he never expected to become an object of black scorn and feminist abhorrence. For example, he complains that: “Every interview I do is like, your lyrics are deadly, man, they’re violent and misogynistic; or black this, white that” (Weiner 61). Although his avowed surprise is possibly contrived, it portends Eminem’s construction of authenticity through a critical appraisal of race and violent misogyny as thematic features. His constant announcements that he’s white and his graphic portrayals of violence against women appear overtly directed to this dominant white hip-hop audience. His heightened misogyny further proves that he is an authentic gangsta, even more vicious than his predecessors. Understated, this criterion of authenticity means showing irreverence and crudeness (Cross). I will demonstrate that Eminem takes stands on the two modes of authenticity construction. He legitimizes himself in terms of both the white-black and violent misogynist axes while rejecting a key element of gangsta rap’s oppositional nature-i.e., the underclass, evocative use of the “N-word.” The lynchpin of my analysis is what goes “unspoken” in Eminem’s lyrics-his refusal to say “nigga” in any of his songs. (Armstrong)
Eminem flow was like nothing before it. This study is an initial attempt to explore, albeit in a preliminary manner, the distinctive elements of Eminem’s gangsta rap. A way to proceed is by detailing the dimensions of Eminem’s annunciations of authenticity through his words. Procedurally, I scrutinize not only his lyric content but also his responses to interview queries and his autobiographical statements. The constant touchstone for my endeavor is Eminem’s commercial concerns. Popular music is inextricably bound to the capitalist interests that produce it-it is commercial in its very essence (Garofalo). Upon analysis, it appears to me that Eminem’s lyric content-both the spoken and the unspoken-is predicated upon his unique place in the history of rap. Dr. Dre signed him to a recording contract because of his race. Dre sought a white artist to appeal to rap’s largest consumer base-white middle-class suburban teenagers. As Bayles adduces, this audience increases its purchases of rap the more the lyrics become “obscene [and] violent” (342). It would seem reasonable that Eminem and Dre, his producer, would design his lyrics to appeal to his projected audience. (Armstrong)
Eminem music videos revolutionised the art form. Given this kind of star appeal, one might assume that Slim, at one point or another, would have mustered the gumption to pack up and go to Hollywood. Instead, it was Hollywood who sought him out. Movie producer Brian Grazer explained in an interview that he had been planning to make a new variant of the Saturday Night Fever/Flashdance formula, transposed into the world of rap-except, of course, that the film was not to depict the “problematic” content of rap songs but rather the everyday life of a ‘normal’ fan turned rapper. The finished film, 8 Mile, loosely reflects not only certain details of Mathers’s life but also early stages of Eminem’s career. Set in 1995, its drama conveys the struggle of a white rap artist in a black music scene (which reflects the negative reception of Eminem’s first album, Infinite); its dramatis personae draws on Eminem’s decision to get a black mentor (Dr. Dre, who has also become his producer); and its depiction of the protagonist’s talent and testiness derives from the fact that ‘battling’-rapping with black rappers in a contest-has always been Eminem’s second nature. (Grundmann)
This attitude clearly identifies the Eminem phenomenon as a symptomatic response to the more recent politicizations of ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities. While a natural talent such as Eminem can appear-and prevail-at any moment in pop-music history, his phenomenal success must be considered at least in part a belated reaction to the liberal pluralism of the Clinton era, during which minority politics became a school subject and minority representation increasingly seeped into entertainment and media. In a climate in which liberals kept singling out white male heterosexuality as the big bugaboo (even if they were white male heterosexuals themselves) a figure such as Eminem had tremendous appeal for those who also felt a need to complain but were, unfortunately, lacking any sort of platform. This type of sociological argument, however, fails to fully account for Eminem mania. he remains of interest, at least for now, not only because he embodies all of rap’s contradictions (and particularly those of a white rapper) in fascinating manner, but also because he matches them with a similarly uncanny talent for combative poetry.
Eminem embraced weirdness and made it successful. The man’s sound changed as he moved—he became increasingly aware of his own impact, and got more serious, more predictable, less deranged. He contributed several of the definitive songs of the early ‘00s, and they reflect this progression. “The Real Slim Shady,” released in 2000, has that exaggerated, Halloween-worthy keyboard riff, goofy asides, strange vocal quirks, cackles, sex noises, and moose jokes. By the time Eminem reached the peak of his powers, with 2002’s “Lose Yourself,” he’s the most serious guy around. The song is made for layup lines and Gatorade commercials, opening with a question—“If you had one shot… to seize everything you ever wanted… would you capture it or just let it slip?”—that a younger Eminem would have laughed off, made fun of, and sworn at. (Leight)
Eminem opened the door for white rappers. Eminem’s career allows white, middle class America to look at hip-hop as something closer to home instead of novelty entertainment. Now in tow are many white suburban kids who believe that they are “hip-hop” because they can identify with Eminem on a phenotypic level. However, what is forgotten is the socioeconomic conditions that Marshall Mathers was raised in, his physical “closeness” to the African-American community and a good deal of knowledge about an oppressed experience which he has consistently shown throughout his career and music. Combine this with black artists’ continual strides towards capitalizing off of entertainment industry market forces, and hip-hop comes closer to a kind of “cultural suicide” where the culture undergoes a dramatic metamorphosis. (Online)
White involvement in black art forms is immediately problematic.6 A common viewpoint is that “the history of black music has been a continuous one of whites’ lucrative expropriation of black cultural forms” (Kelley, “Rhythm” 9). Eminem’s authenticity is disputable because he is white and rap is usually considered a black art form.7 The prevailing wisdom envisages rap as part of an oral heritage, one that preserves the cultural past of West African slaves, whose flowery language signified the speaker’s verbal skill and the social code shared by the oral community (Edwards and Sienkewicz; Perkins; Smitherman; Stephens). Attention to rap as verbal art leads to deliberations on the production of the object, explorations of the art form as socially contingent. As Walser points out, “analyses of rap music must be grounded in the African American context of its creation” (210). Often rap is seen as an articulation of contemporary black culture (Pressley; West) and Black Nationalism (Muwakkil; Decker; Henderson). Or, in Baker’s words: “Rap is black life” (“Handling” 184).
Nevertheless, Eminem wants to be clear that the racist statements on the tape do not reflect his current feelings. “I did and said a lot of stupid — when I was a kid, but that’s part of growing up,” he says. “The tape of me rapping 15 years ago as a teenager that was recently put out by The Source in no way represents who I was then or who I am today.” This leads to one thing the two sides have in common: “Hip-hop is a divine culture, something God created to help defeat racism,” Mays says, adding that The Source is planning a town hall meeting in January, perhaps on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, to further discuss racial issues in hip-hop. In a way, Eminem says he wants to have a similar discussion. “In becoming an adult, I’ve seen what hip-hop and rap music can do to touch millions of people,” he says. “The music can be truly powerful, and it has helped improve race relations in a very real way. I want to use this negative attack on me as a positive opportunity to show that.”
Marketing is the sufficient cause of Eminem’s success, the condition that guaranteed his prominence. Since coining the term “gangsta rap” and producing the canonical gangsta albums, Dre and his posse have become rap royalty. His marketing acumen is a product of, and evidence supporting, his position of dominance in the rap hierarchy. As Darryl James summarizes: “[Eminem] is supported by a huge machine” (“Eminem”). Included therein are Dre’s beats and reputation and Interscope’s marketing and promotion. And it’s “the machine” that took Eminem to “the top of the charts” (James, “Eminem”). Of course, neither Sam Phillips nor Dre picked just any white boy to filter black music for a white audience. The point is, however, Elvis could not have “done it” without Phillips and later Colonel Tom Parker; without Dre, Eminem would still have his day job in Detroit. Elvis’s career depended on two people: Phillips, who sought a white artist and selected him; and Parker, who guided Elvis’s career. Eminem’s career depends completely on Dre. To answer the question why Eminem’s lyrics highlight his racial identity, viciously attack women, and refuse to utter the “N-word,” we must ask if Eminem is merely a compliant coconspirator in his own continual commodification.
- Armstrong, Edward G. “Eminem’s Construction of Authenticity.” Popular Music and Society, vol. 27, no. 3, 2004, pp. 335-355. ProQuest, https://login.ezp.pasadena.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezp.pasadena.edu/docview/208066766?accountid=28371.
- Embley, Jochan. “Five Ways Eminem Changed Hip Hop, 20 Years on from the Slim Shady LP.” Evening Standard, 22 Feb. 2019, www.standard.co.uk/go/london/music/eminem-changed-hip-hop-influence-tour-rappers-a3887126.html.
- Glenn Gamboa, STAFF W. “A War of Words / Racially Motivated Songs from Rapper Eminem’s Past Continue to Escalate Hostilities between Him and Hip-Hop Magazine the Source: ALL EDITIONS].” Newsday, Dec 21, 2003, pp. D22. ProQuest, https://login.ezp.pasadena.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezp.pasadena.edu/docview/279719413?accountid=28371.
- Grundmann, Roy. “White Man’s Burden: Eminem’s Movie Debut in 8 Mile.” Cineaste, vol. 28, no. 2, Spring, 2003, pp. 30-35. ProQuest, https://login.ezp.pasadena.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezp.pasadena.edu/docview/204849819?accountid=28371.
- hooks, bell, and Amalia Mesa-Bains. Homegrown : Engaged Cultural Criticism, Routledge, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://search-proquest-com.ezp.pasadena.edu/legacydocview/EBC/5046706?accountid=28371.
- Leight, Elias. “Why Eminem Matters Right Now.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 5 Nov. 2013, www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/11/why-eminem-matters-right-now/281137/.
- Online, SD. “Hip-Hop White Wash: The Impact of Eminem on Rap Music and Music Industry Economics.” Socialism and Democracy, 16 Apr. 2011, sdonline.org/36/hip-hop-white-wash-the-impact-of-eminem-on-rap-music-and-music-industry-economics/
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