EMINEM: Coming to Korea

8월 1, 2012 at 1:46 오후 , ,
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By John Glynn

One of the most controversial artists ever to grace the world of music is making his way to Seoul. This is a major coup for Hyundai Card, the organizers of this event. On August 19, Eminem, the infamous rapper from Detroit will perform at the Olympic Stadium in Jamsil, Seoul. The artist is commonly referred to by his real name Marshall Mathers. Behind Tupac, he is the best-selling hip-hop artist of all-time, though the now deceased Tupac Shakur has had a number of posthumous albums released. Eminem burst onto the scene in 1999 with an extremely clever approach; a sort of middle finger in your face approach. In addition to this, he was the best-selling artist of the 2000s with US album sales of over 32.2 million. Eminem is also dynamic as a producer. As well as D12’s two albums, Devil’s Night and D12 World, he also produced Obie Trice’s debut album, Cheers. Possibly Eminem’s biggest production achievement was his work on 50 Cent’s excellent Get Rich or Die Tryin’. As he has evolved as an artist, Eminem has decided to produce more of his own tracks.

Globally, he has sold a staggering 86 million albums, yet this performance will mark his very first appearance in South Korea. The divisive rapper was born on the 17 October 1973. Marshall Mathers endured a nomadic upbringing, living with his mother in different states before finally, at the age of 12, settling down in Detroit. In ninth grade, Marshall dropped out of high school, joining impromptu groups like Basement Productions, the New Jacks, and D12. In 1997, Eminem released a truly raw debut album. However, Infinite was badly received, harshly criticized, mainly due to the fact that this white rapper was earning “unjust” comparisons to dominant rappers such as Nas and Big L. His resolve to be successful was rewarded by a prominent feature in Source’s Unsigned Hype column. The last thing this young white rapper wanted was to be labeled the next Vanilla Ice, he worked tirelessly to gain credibility, and he achieved this goal when he won the Wake Up Show’s Freestyle Performer Of The Year award.

The criticism of Infinite seemed to spur Marshall on; he decided to become more imaginative and created Slim Shady, an alter ego with an attitude that screamed SCREW YOU. Marshall tapped into his most intimate of feelings. He had so much material to draw artistic influence from, especially when his mother was accused of emotionally and physically neglecting his younger brother. Shortly after this revelation his girlfriend left him and blocked him from seeing their child. A broken man, Marshall was left with no alternative but to move back in with his mother, something that only increased his hatred toward her.

He found himself writing abnormally dark lyrics, this was around the same time as he began to abuse drugs and alcohol on a more frequent basis. A failed suicide attempt was the final step; Marshall realized his musical ambitions were the only way to escape a genuinely miserable existence. With the help of Dre, he released the Slim Shady LP; enter one of the most momentous moments in music history, a no holds barred, humorous, and thought-provoking record that was galaxies ahead of the material he had been previously writing. His name hit the underground like a smack from Manny Pacquiao. People were intrigued by this man, everything from his overstated, nasal-voiced rapping style to his skin color, with many sections dubbing him rap’s next “great white hope.” Bouncing off the success of the hit single ‘My Name Is’, the album shot to No. 2 on the Billboard chart; going on to win a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. Since then the album has gone platinum three times. Eminem’s increase in popularity ensured extra rewards, one of these being his own record label, Shady Records, and his achievements helped project his much loved group D12 to mainstream recognition.
Before signing Eminem to Aftermath, Dre did not realize he was a white rapper, later proclaiming; ‘I don’t care what color, size or age… just as long as they can rap.” When the pair first met, Eminem was dressed in a luminous yellow tracksuit; Dre told him that he resembled a banana.

Controversy has always shadowed the supremely talented artist. In July 2000, his wife, Kim, attempted to take her own life by cutting her wrists. Eminem filed for divorce a few months later, which encouraged Kim to counter with a lawsuit trying to deny Eminem custody of Hailie, his daughter. Kim also sought millions in defamation damages. This came shortly after the major success of his second album, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000), which sold 19 million copies worldwide, winning a Grammy for in the process. When this LP was nominated for a Grammy, the gay rights group GLAAD prearranged a boycott of the Grammys. Marshall cleverly responded by singing a duet with openly gay singer Elton John. The performance was electric, ending with an embracing hug.

On April 10, 2001, Eminem pulled a firearm on an ICP associate and later that day, pulled a gun on John Guerra. He saw Guerra kissing his wife outside of Hot Rocks cafe. Mathers lost his temper and allegedly began to pistol whip Guerra; he would receive three years probation for his violent conduct. This was a rather hectic time in Eminem’s life, with many incidents occurring. One of the episodes involved a scuffle with Insane Clown Posse’s employees in a car stereo shop; the next involved an intense battle with pop star Christina Aguilera over a lyric about her invented sexual exploits, quickly followed by a lawsuit from his mother over defamation of character. The mainstream media wanted their say, they were not so enamored by Eminem’s talent as accusations of homophobia and bigotry arose from the provocative lyrics of two songs, namely “Kill You” and “Kim.” By the end of that year, Kim and Eminem had reconciled again and wrote off any talks of separation. Rather predictably this new found happiness didn’t last, and this time Kim filed for divorce. It was confirmed and finalized in October of 2001. They were granted dual custody of Hailie, with Eminem obliged to pay child support. Ever since then, their relationship has continued to be an on-again-off-again affair. The duo remarried and filed for divorce again in 2006.

Conversely, Em’s third album, The Eminem Show, also won a Grammy Award, selling over a million copies in its first week. Electro-pop producer Moby and rock group Limp Bizkit bore the true brunt of Mathers’ lyrical wrath. His much-publicized marital meltdown is explored thoroughly on this album, as is his relationship with Hailie. In 2002, Eminem won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Lose Yourself was, and still is, an immense song. This track featured on the film 8 Mile, in which Eminem played the lead. A song intended to be a bonus track on his fourth major album, Encore (2004), ensured Eminem was thrown back under the microscope; this time it was turn of the U.S. Secret Service to “examine” him. The track ‘We As Americans’ was leaked onto the internet and Mathers was probed for allegations that he had threatened the President’s life. The lyrics that raised concern were: “Fuck money / I don’t rap for dead presidents / I’d rather see the president dead / its never been said, but I set precedents.” Hilariously, Eminem made the video ‘My Band’ with D12. The tongue n cheek song was the band’s derisive response to the media’s regular depiction of D12 as Eminem’s band, giving almost no credit to its other members. The video was a major hit, containing numerous parodies, including the infamous Janet Jackson incident. October of 2004 was a month riddled with controversy, it all started with the release of ‘Just Lose It,’ Eminem’s first video and single off Encore. It was now Michael Jackson’s turn to feel the wrath of Marshall. The video contains everything from parodies regarding Jackson’s child-molestation allegations, his supposed plastic surgery fetish, and an occurrence in which Jackson’s hair caught on fire while he was shooting a Pepsi commercial. Black Entertainment Television decided to stop airing the video. However, this move didn’t really have an effect on the popularity of Eminem or the video. MTV announced it would continue showing the video and ‘Just Lose It’ became the most requested video on Total Request Live for the week ending October 22. One week before 2004’s U.S. presidential election, Eminem released the video for his song titled ‘Mosh’ on the net. Featuring a very strong anti-Bush message, the song created a media storm. People were fascinated, especially with lyrics including:’fuck Bush’ and ‘this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president’. In 2005, a compilation album released, entitled Curtain Call: The Hits, sparked rumors that Eminem was retiring from the rap game. As you are probably aware, he didn’t retire, hence his upcoming appearance in Korea. Since 2005, the Eminem biography hasn’t been so impressive. He took a hiatus for a few years, checking himself into rehab to get over his addiction to sleeping pills. The rapper penned his autobiography ‘The Way I am’ in 2008, and is expected to release a new album very soon.

He is sometimes called the Elvis of the hip hop world, but this is a rather inaccurate statement. Beyond doubt, Eminem was the first white rapper since the Beastie Boys to acquire both sales and serious respect, and his musical impact has broken down so many barriers. Is he the most significant artist of the past 20 years? It’s certainly a reasonable assumption. Eminem isn’t just about debate and shock value: This often misinterpreted talent has in fact given white rappers legitimate authority in this post-Vanilla Ice age with his string of forceful hits. His three most significant multiplatinum studio albums, which–once one gets past the publicity and hubbub that surrounded them–are some of the most inventive, unique, and electrifying releases of the rap genre (bar none).

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