Sunday, June 12, 2022

Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

It was only a matter of time before Eminem turned up on one of these top albums list. There's his speed. There's his inventive lyrics. There's also the issue of his color. Being white made made his hiphop palatable to a mainstream white demographic. His homophobia and pro-pillpopping lyrics did for edgelord youths what Elvis's "Hound Dog" hip swivel did for the mainstreaming of blues for young, clueless whites. With Elvis, it was clear that the literal move was cynical, at least as the media promoted it. The upside was the invention of a new musical genre, rock. Another upside was that Elvis was a good singer-performer, utterly unique. So is Eminem, but the music is ugly.

At least here. The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) is Eminem following the success of The Slim Shady LP (1999). He resents his criticism. He was blamed for Columbine, singled out by one Clinton and both Gores for corrupting the youth, and he was getting constantly harassed by obsessive weirdo fans. I appreciate the fact that here he said, "Behold my wounds," but I don't like this album. Too ugly.

While listening to it, however, I did recall what I found attractive about it as a middle-schooler going into high school: the music was transgressive. This was a time in my life when I valued transgression for transgression's sake. This might be a necessary step for the acquisition of freedom but I'm beyond this stage.

I wonder what I would do if I overheard my child listening to this album or worse. I think I would tell him or her I didn't like the music and try to explain. I wouldn't prohibit my teenager from listening to this kind of thing. And of course whatever I said would go through one ear and out the other anyway. I thank God that most contemporary hiphop is rappers rapping about how capitalism makes them sad. We'll see how long that lasts.

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