Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Time For Heroes: Eminem






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The first in my series focusing on the people who were there for people who needed them for the past decade and for the people to take those into the next decade. There'll be about 50 of these. First up-

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Marshall Bruce Mathers III

I first heard eminem in high school around 1998. When Busta Rhymes first heard him, his reaction was to put his face through the windscreen of his tour bus. My reaction was symbolically similar but no way was I cool enough to pull off the physical act.

I was around 13 at the time and now I realise quite how supportive my parents were putting up with me playing Dre's 2001 album and Eminem's Slim Shady LP in the car relentlessly until I went to college.

It's a crime that people aren't aware of some of Eminem's lesser known tracks which tend to be the ones where he isn't playing dress up. I feel it pretty important to do a retrospective of 1998-2005 as he was on top the whole time.

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The Slim Shady LP (1999)

Essential Downloads- Guilty Conscience, Brain Damage, If I had, My fault

Yeah. So the lead off single off this took rap into the mainsteam, my name is. I think it made a lot of people realise rap isn't everything it's made to be and is a pretty good time. This started off his thing with releasing a joke single to lead off the album but that's all those tracks were and if you don't listen to the rest of the albums then- ya know.

Guilty Conscience was the track I mentioned above relating to Busta Rhymes. At the time the track was pretty revolutionary and reading Dre's biography he says he made the beat and did a sort of back and forth with Em relating to these three stories and he suddenly came out with the now infamous line "who's gonna take advice from somebody who slapped dee barnes" and then went on with "what's wrong didn't think I'd remember, temper temper mr. dre, mr. NWA, mr AKA, mr coming straight outta compton y'all better make way".

Brain Damage was one of Eminem's early lawsuits as it's about his time at high school and a few incidents regarding a guy called DeAngelo Bailey. It's a pretty intense track and if you've been bullied it resonates and his anger in this track but the reason it was thrown out of court is the same reason it's not "that" intense and that's that the scenarios detailed in the song are quite abstract and obviously not a realistic detailing of actual events.

'97 Bonnie and Clyde depicts a recurring theme in Eminem's works and that is describing murderous fantasies of his on off wife Kim. If you don't think about it too much the track is quite good but I think people thinking about the reality of Eminem's debut and not being able to suspend a reasonable sense of disbelief is why there was a little tiny bit of an uproar over it.

The lyrics on Role Model hark to his next album, it could easily have been on it. The backing track on it is infectious as hell. This track showed great potential. My Fault shows brilliant ability in capturing a scene with lyricism and quite an accurate relaying of drug abuse at house parties and how from one point of view it can be good times and from others it can be pretty bad news.

If I keep going into this much detail this post is going to be massive so basically get the tracks i've mentioned above to get a good grasp on Eminem's earlier stuff. It really is perfect for that sort of high school age. I'm not saying get it for your kids cos that'd be mental but if you just don't give a fuck and haven't heard anyone else say it yet, get it. It's good but really pales in comparison to the follow up.



Dr. Dre- 2001

In between his debut and me going to college Dre released his amazing follow up to the chronic and it featured a couple of tracks with eminem, one was what's the difference but one was forgot about dre and featured this verse which pretty much went down in history-

So what do you say to somebody you hate
Or anybody tryna bring trouble your way
Wanna resolve things in a bloodier way
Just study your tape of NWA.
One day I was walkin by
Wit a walkmen on
When I caught a guy givin me an awkward eye
And strangled him off in the parkin lot wit his Karl Kani
I don't give a fuck if it's dark or not
I'm harder than me tryna park a Dodge
But I'm drunk as fuck
Right next to a humungous truck in a two car garage
Hoppin out wit two broken legs tryna walk it off
Fuck you too bitch call the cops
I'ma kill you and them loud ass mother fuckin barkin dogs

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Marshall Mathers LP
Essential Downloads- Kill you, Stan, Who knew?, I'm back, The way I am, kids.

Where the Slim Shady LP was autobiographical in an exaggerated comic way the Marshall Mathers LP was plain brutal honesty. Even the comic tracks like "real slim shady". It was released about a year after the slim shady ep and sold about 2 million in the first week which is enough to make susan boyle question her very existence.

It kicks off with kill you which is such a good track, the dexterity he shows in his language as well as his ability to sum up the whirlwind of the past 12 months into a few lines is incredible.

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Stan is next and what can you say about this that hasn't already. It's the most original concept for a song and his delivery is mind blowing like how can anyone come up with this kind of stuff? This track is what elevated Eminem to legendary status, number ones all over the place, yeah pissing all over everyone and he could do nothing wrong for the next few years. If you don't know stan, it's the tale of having no hope and putting all your faith into somebody that there is no way they can give you all the help you need.



The way I am, lyrically is as potent as it gets. The references to his own life along with modern society, gun crime, violence and general celebrity culture are interweaved to make a track that just doesn't let up for its entire duration. Drug Ballad is just as brilliant. It's one of my favourite Em tracks without a doubt.

The whole album is brilliant although, bit of advice, don't download Kim. I don't think i've ever recovered from having it come on in shuffle on my ipod in 2003 while I was having a nap haha. I literally haven't heard that track in 6 years, it's mental. If you want to hear just why some people have taken umbridge to being namechecked on some of his tracks give it a listen.

There's a bonus track on the end of this called kids which you really should give a few minutes of your life to. It's 9 years later and i still think it's great.

There are a few guest appearences on the album that aren't so good. Bizarre and Xzibit being the worst of these but there's a funny bit in Bitch Please II where snoop dogg goes "nu-uh no he didn't? what what? You shit on those niggas two times?!" I've never been a fan of snoop dogg but I always take everything he says literally...


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D12

In between MM and the Eminem show he helped bring a few of his chums up into the public eye. Proof, who died a year or so ago, was greatly talented and for that i'm thankful that we were graced with D12 but for the large part it was a bit pointless. As fun as tracks like my band and purple hills were that's all they were. However there was one track on D12 World where Eminem gives one of the best performances of his career. Unfortunately there are other people on the track but his verse is the best delivery I have ever heard.

Git Up

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The Eminem Show
Reccomended Downloads- Cleanin' out my closet, Sing for the moment, My dad's gone crazy, Til I collapse

In terms of Eminem's post Infinite albums, Relapse aside, The Eminem show tends to be held in the lowest regard. I mean forget sales figures because they were as mental as ever but in terms of solid material the album was, to put it lightly- patchy.

I think any bad blood would be down to the carnival atmosphere of the album, it all seemed a little bit celebratory and even the serious tracks like cleaning out my closet and sing for the moment were still marketed as mainstream tracks which I guess was the right way to go from a money making point of view.

The difference between this album and the others were that yes, there were great tracks but the rest of the album lacked the same depth as others. The two tracks mentioned above would have been album tracks on any others, not singles.

One track which you might not have heard "My dad's gone crazy" is a brilliant track masquarading as a joke track. It features his daughter but has lyrics like "... pain inside of my brain, in the eyes of a little girl inside of a plane aimed at the world trade... screaming at the sky til clouds gather..." but also, "fuck that shit bitch eat a mother fucking dick chew on a dick and lick a million mother fucking cocks per second i'd rather put out a motherfucking gospel record". The contrast of those lyrics really highlight the highs compared to the lows of this album, the highs are great but the lows are kind of lame and embarrasing at times.

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8 Mile

8 Mile is a brilliant movie. Inspiring as it gets but the soundtrack, for which Eminem one a M-F'ing Oscar, is as good as all the accolades it garnered. There are 3 tracks that have to be highlighted. Firstly Lose Yourself in which Eminem condenses an entire movie into 4 breathtaking minutes. Rabbit Run is incredible, it is a masterpiece in terms of a encapsulating and building on a feeling into a lyrical and crescendo, the beat getting progressively faster with no chorus. The self titled 8 mile is probably the least heard of all the tracks but still worth a listen.

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Encore
Recommended Downloads- Evil Deeds, Mosh, Rain Man, Curtains Down.

People also give Encore a hard time but for me I was as excited about this as I was for the Marshall Mathers LP. It's a proper albumand showcases everything that is great about eminem, kicking off fairly self-referentially with Evil Deeds a pretty relentless flow but nothing too serious. The focus shifts on toy soldiers and it gets back to that inpirational anger that was missing from the previous album. The track is pretty much a prelude to Mosh which was released in the lead up to the Bush/Kerry election and really grabs hold of a nation's feelings responding with an unrepenting fire.

There's a few joke tracks in the middle, my first single, big weenie and rain man which despite the light hearted nature of them really show how talented eminem is at writing and spitting rhymes.

I really like the close to this album, it starts off about 3 tracks in with one shot 2 shot which is pretty good as it tells a pretty good story of a night at a club with d12, then curtains down with dre and 50 cent is a killer closer. Thinking about it maybe it wasn't that great of an album but at the time I loved it. It did start off that stupid indian voice he does but there's a few tracks you should really hear on here if you haven't.

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That's it, that's Eminem. Tomorrow, Peter Doherty.

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