11월 8, 2011 at 11:03 오전 ,
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12 years on from The Slim Shady LP

By John Glynn

At present, Detroit is ground zero of America’s economic meltdown, various industries bankrupt and many people left jobless. The mood in Warren, the austere neighborhood where Eminem was raised, is as despondent as ever. Hotels, grocery stores and even bars on 8 Mile, the street that gave its name to the semi-autobiographical movie Eminem made, have bars protecting their employees from dejected residents. Factories that once provided thousands upon thousands of jobs now exist as unoccupied, hideous sights, windows broken, silent declaration to a lost industrial past. Entire sections of the city are eerily apocalyptic. Regrettably, in these same parts of; the only surviving industries involve prostitution and drugs. Once known as ‘The Renaissance City’, Detroit has, historically, been one of the more violent cities in the U.S, with quite a number of local crime syndicates – a number of small gangs who tend to compete over territory. Many of these depressing factors have influenced the music created by this artist.

Eminem came to our attention over twelve years ago as an unlikely musical phenomenon: a white rapper from the wrong side of Detroit sporting an unhealthy fascination with violence and universal dysfunction. He grew up at the tail end of his town’s decline from affluence to despondency. He has used these experiences to create outrageous music, layered with an undercurrent of wicked humor. In the six years, from 1999 to 2005, he recorded five albums. He sold almost 50 million copies, and gave popular music a much needed proverbial kick in the butt. His rise to superstardom was serendipitous, inexplicable and almost unthinkable. An aggressive young male – Marshall Bruce Mathers decided to bleach his hair, assume the alter ego Slim Shady, and turn the world of music on its head. Eminem has exerted a gravitational pull on music. To me, he is unique, impossible to emulate, making him only more significant. Eminem proved that a white male could change the direction of hip-hop, and inspired an extraordinary reaction across the globe. Initially, Eminem rapped about his soap-opera existence – topics discussed: a dysfunctional education, a trailer-park mom and his poverty-stricken childhood. When he generated mass media attention, he rapped about that. In essence, he has always managed to turn each personal problem into a form of art. Eminem is the “evil” America, a violent world of industrial decay and social decomposition deep-rooted in his home town. His best music is furious and belligerent, sitting on a decadent throne of wit. Take, for instance, the concentrated power of hits such as “Lose Yourself”, which won an Oscar, and “Stan”, one of the best hip-hop tracks of all time.
As his status grew, Eminem became a sort of “controversy magnet”. He was associated with the glorification of misogyny, homophobia, profanity, rape and the possession of firearms. Marshall was even held in custody on gun charges. Famously, George Bush, offended by his lack of veneration for the powers of conservatism, branded Eminem as: “The greatest threat to America’s children since polio.” Just a slight overreaction.
Yet, in spite of all this controversy, Eminem has managed to accumulate an allegiance of fans that has stretched across every demographic of the record-buying public. In one astonishing endorsement, confirming Eminem as a true genius, a white-haired Seamus Heaney declared him, in all sincerity, the redeemer of contemporary poetry. “There is this guy Eminem,” said the Nobel Peace Prize winner. “He has created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around a generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude, but also his verbal energy.”
Just a few years ago, Eminem decided to hibernate in a drug-fueled “safe haven”. Unimaginably — one of the most critically acclaimed figures in pop culture in the last 25 years, who introduced hip-hop to mainstream acceptance — had become a nonentity.
Constant performing under the close scrutiny of cameras, microphones, and an astute audience can lead to insufferable stress. Eminem has recounted his struggle with drug addiction, predominantly prescription pills. It was an up and down battle (thus the titles of his two most recent releases: Relapse and Recovery). He would go through rehab, get sober, and then relapse a short time later. The problem with Eminem was that he went into rehab, went through the agonizing phases of withdrawal, and then re-entered the same environment that led to this dependence in the first place.
Eminem required the aid of somebody who had experienced the same state of affairs. For Marshall, that person was Elton John. The pair shared a bizarre companionship (bearing in mind some of the rapper’s seemingly anti-gay lyrics) and Eminem was able to finally conquer his habit, get clean and stage his recovery.
On June 21, 2010, Mathers released “Recovery”, his sixth solo album on a major label. This was his first album as a sober man and the most insular to date. Unquestionably, upon listening to this album, it was so refreshing to hear the man from Detroit back doing what he does best. In a strange way, the Eminem we witnessed on “Recovery” was reminiscent of the musician he once was, before the media got a hold of him. He still had the familiar fascinations: cartoonish violence, sexual aggression, astoundingly sophisticated rapping. He sounded rejuvenated. This was his most lucid work in eight years, since 2002, the year of his last razor-sharp album, “The Eminem Show,” and the soundtrack to the quasi-biopic “8 Mile.” Eminem’s achievement must be recognized. “Recovery” is a good album. It is scrupulous yet unembellished; there is not one reservation regarding Eminem’s deftness, especially relative to the collaborators on the LP, whom he frequently outshines.
His musical versatility, or range, is what has made him so unique, separating him from other rappers, such as 50 Cent, who mostly rap in only one voice or style for the entire track. Marshall has the capability to change his voice, which frankly changes the significance or nature of the song. Eminem raps about growing up with a negligent mom (“Cleaning Out My Closet”) or getting recognition regardless of his skin color (“White America”), the fact that he truly had to experience these issues gives his words significance and substance. His message in such songs is legitimate because he is reflecting on past experiences. In essence, perhaps the chief reason why Eminem is so significant is that his life story is one of the most stimulating around

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