“Eminem: The King of His Time, The Legend of Ours”

Eminem-The protagonist of Philip Dick’s science fiction book The Divine Invasion from 1981 works for a space industrialist and is posted alone on a far-off, uninhabitable planet.

He repeatedly plays a worn collection of tapes featuring the songs of an internationally renowned female vocalist as a coping mechanism for the loneliness.

Eminem
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 05: Inductee Eminem performs on stage during the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on November 05, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

 

He stays sane thanks to her haunting, sensual voice and intricate words. He panics uncontrollably when he believes he has misplaced the tapes, demonstrating his obsession—no, addiction—to her.

 

He darkens his hermetically sealed pod, lies back, plays one of the recordings, closes his eyes and is taken to her enchanted dimension as her ethereal presence fills the space once he has accomplished his essentially trivial labor.

Not just her music, but her very being is his haven; her difficult, lauded, and extraordinarily successful life is the mist into which he dissolves his gloom and boredom.

He is unaware that she does not exist.

Not just her sound, but her entire person has been created in the ultimate in-studio production, which is perfectly timed with the way we are currently waking up in a new AI world.

Her past, her work, her beauty, and each and every experience that makes up her life are all made up. She was developed to successfully and financially satisfy a significant and pervasive customer need, and she succeeds in doing so.

Eminem has always struck me as being somewhat similar to this. I am aware of his existence, but, as the expression goes, we would have to create him if he didn’t.

And in a certain way, we have. The person may exist, but Eminem is a mountain-high papier-mâché god that tens of millions of hands have helped create.

He is a hybrid of an outlaw and a record industry savior.

And what young person, especially an adolescent, hasn’t ever felt that they were stranded on another planet, all by themselves in a lonely emptiness, clutching to the threads of sanity articulated in a bodyless voice that amazingly understands, consoles, and soothes?

All popular music that is commercially successful is the result of a small number of creators and the millions of listeners who draw it to themselves and mold it to suit their individual tastes.

We all needed Eminem to shake up the musical slumber we had fallen into and to stir up the insipid, mass-produced current pop culture that is so conducive to corporate sponsorship. The Redeemer, however, arrived with the enticing charm of an antichrist and the aura of a devil.

 

The majority of us only have an impression of him based on what we hear in his gory and violent songs or what we see in his numerous personas in his videos, with the exception of the small number of people who know him personally.

We watch him perform at the MTV Awards, either slouching in his chair, unusually quiet in a t-shirt and glasses, seeming bored and anxiously alert, or spurting and convulsing on stage, slashing at ghosts and yelling profanities at them.

Eminem
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 13: Eminem takes a knee as he performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

We have a photomontage of him that features his round face, which resembles a nun’s when he has a bandana covering his forehead and the hood of his sweatshirt up, and his fit, tattooed body, which makes him appear scary and vulnerable, immature and already worn out.

From all of this and his extraordinarily honest music, in which his personal life is displayed like trinkets in a gift store, we get the impression that we know him.

He seems like our neighbor to us despite being the biggest pop singer in the world, or maybe even because of it.

Marshall Bruce Mathers III should not have existed according to all statistical probability laws. His parents were rudimentary musicians who had just enough skill to play cover songs in hotel lobbies across the American Midwest.

Ironically, the name of their band was Daddy Warbucks, a reference to the character from the musical Annie who adopts and raises the title orphan—a kind deed Marshall must have hoped for throughout his childhood.

When Debbie was 15 and her husband, whose name is typically unknown or at the very least not uttered, was 22, they got married.

Marshall was born within two years, and the couple soon divorced. He never met Marshall’s father, who relocated to California.

Marshall wrote to him when he was a teenager, but his letters were returned unopened.

Eminem’s father reportedly tried to get in touch with him when he transformed from a white-trash chrysalis into a multimillionaire, platinum-selling rapper.

Eminem, naturally, rejected the attempt and said, “Fuck that motherfucker, man. Screw him.

Marshall, a young child, and Debbie, a single mother in her twenties, moved back and forth between Detroit and his birthplace of Kansas, Missouri, where they eventually landed on the city’s destitute East Side.

In an all black neighborhood when he was eleven years old, Marshall and his mother were one of just three white families. This neighborhood ultimately provided as both the inspiration for and setting for the film 8 Mile.

 

According to Eminem, race was not a big issue when he was younger, but as he grew older and began competing in freestyle rap battles in his late teens, where he was frequently the only white competitor, it consumed him.

He also noticed that his black friends received criticism for standing by him. (He has always given back this loyalty, by the way, most noticeably by supporting his team, D12, the Dirty Dozen.)

 

His temperamental mother, who he has widely said was an alcoholic and drug addict who didn’t work but filed flimsy cases in order to get paid off in settlement of them, made his upbringing difficult.

Additionally, she rejected him more frequently than, say, mothers typically do. He dropped out of ninth grade after failing it three times. He was seventeen, the age at which most young people graduated.

He had menial jobs that earned the federal minimum wage, and his life was as meaningless as it could be.

He continued to pursue his one burning, implausible passion—his desire of being a successful rapper—during this entire time.

He soon left his mother’s home and moved in with Kim, his high school sweetheart whom he later married (and later divorced) and with whom he had a daughter, Hailie.

He issued an unofficial CD called Infinite in 1996. It was his attempt at the big time, but the record bombed fast since it was subpar. He was 24 years old.

Eminem is a naughty, whirling dervish who battles both actual and fictitious demons simultaneously.

Although we cannot see the conflict, we may observe its repercussions, much like when someone is having a nightmare.

He’s already stated that he can’t rap indefinitely and that his ultimate goal is to become an impresario like Dr. Dre.

He’s made hints that he’d be willing to act once more. He hasn’t expressed any sign of desire to launch a clothes line.

Additionally, he gives off the impression of just starting.

At least, he doesn’t appear to be softening: As his fourth album Encore is being released, he’s already involved in a catfight with Michael Jackson over his portrayal of the King of Pop as a spastic pedophile in the song and music video for the album’s first single, “Just Lose It,” and a political conflict with President Bush over a distasteful portrayal of him in a different video that the Republicans don’t want to be seen.

Or perhaps, while we watch spellbound, he is simply trapped in his nightmare, still tossing and turning in his sleep.

He is engaged in a hopeless struggle for his soul with the terrible forces that drive him.

The last time I heard Eminem, before listening to his most recent tracks, it was coming from the wall of the Superal supermarket outside of Chiusi, Italy.

He was singing “Lose Yourself” by 8 Mile, while the parking area was being sprayed with gunfire raps. I’ve frequented that store countless of times and have never once paid attention to the canned music’s source. Eminem however grabs you.

His voice has an unpleasant and pleasurable abrasiveness about it that makes you want to scratch yourself. Like a mad wine taster who is unable to control himself, he spits out language in exquisite streams after swirling it about in his tongue.

It’s cliché to describe an artist as having “exploded,” but in the case of Eminem, the phrase is hauntingly accurate because it not only describes how he went from being a broke, rejected, white rap wannabe to the biggest musical sensation ever, but also how startlingly he tore like shrapnel into America’s arrogant self-image.

After placing second at the Los Angeles Rap Olympics in 1997, Dr. Dre, the Don of rap producers at the time, heard his demo tape, The Slim Shady EP, and signed him.

Before releasing The Slim Shady LP, which Dre produced, and his major label debut a year later, he worked on a number of Dre projects. With over 4.5 million copies sold at the time, it became the most successful rap album ever.

Even by the jaded standards of rap, Eminem’s songs were homophobic, aggressive, and misogynistic.

They weren’t racist either, which surprised me. Perhaps this is because he perceives himself as a black man who gets along well with white people.

But instead of leaving that area empty, he filled it with what must be a hip-hop fantasy: on “Kill You,” he sings upbeatly about rapping his mother.

As if the creation of Eminem wasn’t enough to rid Marshall Mathers of the miserable realities of his life, his alter ego invented Slim Shady, who represents his actual dark side.

On the bathroom, appropriately enough, Eminem had a notion about Dre.

He said that Dre was actually Shady, a fictional alter ego of his who loathed gays, wanted to drug and rape a young girl, and encouraged a cuckolded husband to kill his unfaithful wife and her boyfriend.

 

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1 thought on ““Eminem: The King of His Time, The Legend of Ours””

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