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Eminem

Surprise. Another white boy's extended middle finger flips through a rhyming dictionary and conquers the MTV music awards.

The hip-hop comedy stylings of Marshall Bruce Mathers III, a.k.a. Slim Shady, a.k.a. Eminem rose to prominence in the early 2000's - partially due to producer Dr. Dre, who found beauty and poignancy in each of Mathers' smothered, angry stanzas.

Dre offered Mathers a record deal, perhaps with the implied understanding that even Elvis Presley's riches were predicated on the notion that a white boy learnin' to play the blues might gain quicker worldwide acceptance and financial success.

Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP was the fastest selling solo album in the history of corporate American music sales, often deconstructed by critics sitting on that squeaky fence between praise and condemnation. His rape-rap lyrics were populated with dick jokes, obscene puns, murderous threats, drug references, Oedipal issues, and an ever-present inability to get over one of his ex-girlfriends.

"My mom smokes more dope than I do," Eminem crooned, encouraging his mother to file a $10 million lawsuit.

Despite claims to the contrary, song after song in the Eminem library reveals an unmistakably thin-skinned rapper deathly afraid of a negative review. The beats are disgruntled, manufactured pitches to suburban teenagers, alternately innovative, stolen, repetitive – tight punches of science thrown into the air, and often nowhere else. Playing a character or not, letting "loose" with your personal opinion is hardly a new practice no matter what the venue. Distilled to its essence, this material has the shelf life of the Grammy awards.

Like his adult peers in the rap community, Eminem periodically punctuates his career with visits from state and local authorities. In February of 2001, London police studied videotapes of his premiere British concert to see if he incited teenage fans to take drugs.

The animosity between Eminem and Insane Clown Posse is well known among their fans. Both acts sling profanity-laden lyrics at each other about their Detroit roots. After Mathers was sentenced to two years' probation for carrying a concealed weapon, it came to light the weapon was never loaded. It was a damaging blow to his street cred. Over time, Eminem came to be considered little more than a studio’s gangster.

When the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation condemned his lyrics as homophobic and misogynist – and could lead to increased violence - Eminem performed a duo with a very gay Elton John at the MTV music awards. Painful.


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