Okay, all I’ve been hearing is how Eminem is a genius, how he’s “funny and savage”(Stephen King’s description) and how all his misogyny and homophobia is to be overlooked because of all this.
Well, here’s your chance, Eminem fans and apologists:
Quote me some lyrics that will make your point. I want to hear the best he has to offer. Please, let your example lean toward the insightful, rather than just clever.
I don’t own any albums, and don’t know much more about Eminem’s work than what I’ve heard on the radio, but I’m really impressed with the storytelling in some of his songs.
For example: '97 Bonnie and Clyde. The story of the song comes out through all the little white lies the narrator tells his little girl, which the listener sees through at once. Like:
“It’s just a little scratch - it don’t hurt, her was eatin
dinner while you were sleepin and spilled ketchup on her shirt
Mama’s messy isn’t she? We’ll let her wash off in the water
and me and you can play by ourselves, can’t we?”
It’s a creepy murder fantasy that doesn’t bust you over the head with “I killed her” from the start. Is it effed up to write a song from the point of view of a guy who just murdered his wife? Fantasies are fantasies. If people should be boycotted for publishing messed up fantasies, then a lot of poets (like Sylvia Plath) should be banned too.
Incidentally, for those who really can’t stomach Eminem, Tori Amos did a cover of '97 Bonnie and Clyde that’s even creepier. I highly recommend it (it’s on her album “Strange Little Girls”)
Another example: Stan. (warning: the only sites I found with those lyrics have a LOT of popups) It’s a song about the way fans obsess sometimes, how they depend on celebrities for recognition when they shouldn’t, how they emulate them when they shouldn’t, and how sometimes their obsessions are just attempts to deal with issues in their life they need to face. There’s no happy ending to the song – Stan’s reply comes too late, and Slim realizes just how late it was, even though he didn’t mean to ignore his fan (or did he?).
A number of Eminem’s songs have a running theme of “I’m messed up. Don’t be like me. Be like you.” in them. I don’t agree with homophobia – and his outspoken homophobia and voicing of thoughts of violence toward women are some of the reasons I haven’t bought any of his albums, though I like his music and the ingenuity of his lyrics. But most of the rap that comes out these days is all the same – ego-stroking that is often every bit as misogynistic as Eminem is said to be. At least Eminem can string words together in an imaginative, flowing way.
*As the World Turns **
And as we go along
Throughout the days of our lives
We all face small obstacles and challenges everyday
That we must go through
These are the things that surround us through our atmosphere
Every single day the world keeps turning
I’m a man, I’m a make a new plan,
Time for me to just stand up and travel new land,
Time to leave and just take matters into my own hands,
Once I’m over these track man I’m a never look back,
And I’m gone and I know right where I’m goin,
Sorry momma I’m grown, I must travel alone,
Aint no followin footsteps, I’m making my own,
Only way that I know how to escape from, this ain’t my room…*
“Cleanin Out My Closet” has some good lyrics. The last verse of “Closet” takes the feud with his mom and gives a little background it (whether any of it is true, I don’t know). But he tells a mean story, and puts a lot of emotion into it. (Warning: pop-ups in the linkity-link)
They say music can alter moods and talk to you,
well can it load a gun for you and cock it too?
Well if it can, then the next time you assault a dude,
Just tell the judge it was my fault, and I’ll get sued.
“So to the parents of America, I am the derringer aimed at little Erica, to attack her character, the ringleader of this circus of worthless pawns, sent to lead the march right up to the steps of congress, and piss on the lawns of the White House, to burn the casket and replace it with a parental advisory sticker, to spit liquor in the faces of in this democracy of hypocrisy, fuck you Ms. Cheney, fuck you Tipper Gore, fuck you with the freest of speech this divided states of embarassment will allow me to have, fuck you! I’m only playin’ America-- you know I love you…”
From Square Dance:
“All this terror America demands action,
Next thing you know you’ve got Uncle Sam’s ass askin’
To join the army or what you’ll do for their Navy.
You’re just a baby,
Gettin’ recruited at eighteen,
You’re on a plane now,
Eatin their food and their baked beans.
I’m 28 ,
They gon take you 'fore they take me
Crazy insane or insane crazy?
When I say Hussein you say Shady”
I could go on, but people have already mentioned some of my favorites. Personally, I think he’s growing up, leaving a lot of his feckless lyrics behind and getting more political. He is realizing that he has a lot of power over the kids who love him and is starting to use it.
Yes, he still has some very fucked up views on women, but it’s evident that he realizes this and expresses a deep ambivalence. He’s a work in progress.
These lyrics reveal a more insightful fellow than the misogynist, homophobic bitter white guy Eminem is often portrayed as, but it doesn’t really strike me anything genius.
A lot of folks say something like, “Well, I’ll admit that he’s an incredibly talented lyricist, but…” before they say that they dislike him. Well, I’m saying the exact opposite: I think he sounds good, but he isn’t a genius and hasn’t said anything more insightful than you’d find on any introverted high school student’s LiveJournal.
A couple of my favorites and hope I’m not pasting too much of the lyrics;
Guilty Consicence - darkly funny when you listen to the song
Meet Grady. A 29 year old construction worker. After
coming home from a hard day’s work, he walks in the
door of his trailer park home to find his wife in bed
with another man.
Dre: Alright calm down, relax, start breathin…
Em: Fuck that shit, you just caught this bitch cheatin’
While you at work she’s with some dude tryin’ to get off??!
Fuck slittin’ her throat! CUT THIS BITCH’S HEAD OFF!!
Dre: Wait, what if there’s an explanation for this shit?
Em: What? She tripped? Fell? Landed on his dick?
Dre: Alright Shady. Maybe he’s right Grady.
But think about the baby before you get all crazy.
Em: Okay! Thought about it, still wanna stab her
Grab her by the throat, get the daughter and kidnap her?
That’s what I did, be smart, don’t be a retard
You gonna take advice from somebody that slapped DEE BARNES??!
Dre: What’chu say?
Em: What’s wrong? Didn’t think I’d remember?
Dre: I’m-a kill you motherfucker!
Em: Ah-aahh! Temper temper! Mr. Dre? Mr. N.W.A.?
Mr. AK comin’ straight outta Compton ya’ll better make way??!
How in the fuck you gon’ tell this man not to be violent?
Dre: Cuz he don’t need to go the same route that I went
Been there done that…aw fuck it…
What am I sayin’? Shoot 'em both Grady, where’s your gun at?
The Kids - One of his cleverest songs
And last but not least, one of the most humungous
problems among young people today, is fungus
It grows from cow manure, they pick it out, wipe it off,
bag it up, and you put it right in your mouth and chew it
Yum yum! Then you start to see some dumb stuff
And everything slows down when you eat some of 'em…
And sometimes you see things that aren’t there (Like what?)
Like fat woman in G-strings with orange hair
(Mr. Shady what’s a G-string?) It’s yarn Claire
Women stick 'em up their behinds, go out and wear 'em (Huh?)
And if you swallow too much of the magic mushrooms
Whoops, did I say magic mushrooms? I meant fungus
Ya tongue gets, all swoll up like a cow’s tongue (How come?)
cause it comes from a cow’s dung (Gross!!)
I’m so sick and tired of bein admired
that I wish that I would just die or get fired
and dropped from my label and stop with the fables
I’m not gonna be able to top on “My Name is…”
And pigeon-holed into some pop-py sensation
to cop me rotation at rock’n’roll stations
And I just do not got the patience (got the patience)…
to deal with these cocky caucasians who think
I’m some wigger who just tries to be black cause I talk
with an accent, and grab on my balls, so they always keep askin
the same fuckin questions (fuckin questions)…
Very notable for its sound. I’ve been writing poetry for a long time now, and I’d probably kill to be able to use vowel sounds this well.
Also go here for the lyrics to Hailey’s song. Very touching in the long rap section. I’m not posting it here because it’s really long.
Ski bitty be bop a Christopher Reeves
Sonny Bono…skis, horses, and hittin’ some trees
How many retards’ll listen to me
and run up in a school shootin when the’re pissed at a teach-
-er… her him, is it you is it them?
“It wasn’t me, slim shady said to do it again”
Angel, “The Way I Am” turned me on to him more than anything. I remember being vaguely annoyed at “My Name Is…” and thinking, ‘oh great. another white party rapper - did Vanilla Ice run out of free tries?’
But the anger in “The Way I Am”… man, to continue a bit where Angel left off -
So they always keep asking the same fucking questions
What school did I go to?
What hood I grew up in?
The why? The who, what?
When and where and the how?
Till I’m grabbing my hair and I’m tearing it out
'Cause they driving me crazy, I can’t take it
I’m racing, I’m pacing, I stand and I sit
And I’m thankful for every fan that I get
But I can’t take a shit in the bathroom
Without someone standing by it
No I won’t sign your autograph
You can call me an asshole
I’m glad cause
I am whatever you say I am
Its rare for any rapper to acknowledge anything other than their own image - all day parties with nearly naked woman in between shooting at any fool who gets in his/her way. Em at least tries to be honest - he’s an asshole because you perceive him to be an asshole, and that’s just fine - and the boy can tie words together with the best of 'em.