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A musical genius is born, and music will never be the same
on 21 August 2003
I am for the most part a very conservative person, and those who know me would probably never imagine that I am a devoted Eminem fan. When The Slim Shady LP came out in 1999, I heard a lot about it, but I had almost no exposure to the music itself. The only song I really heard at the time was the radio version of My Name Is, and that little ditty seemed to have "gimmick" written all over it. I expected Eminem to disappear from the music scene after a few months. I, like many people, was uninformed and wrongly dismissed this artist out of hand. Then, I actually listened to the man's music, and I soon realized that Eminem was in fact a musical genius. This first album is a little more bare-bones and gritty than The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show, but it is nonetheless nothing short of amazing. I am not exactly a big fan of rap or hip-hop, although I have wandered down those lanes a few times in my past, but Eminem actually transcends rap, creating a musical genre all his own that reaches out to even the most unlikeliest of places to win fans like me. Sure, the lyrics are explicit, but what I have come to realize is this: Eminem does not use the explicit lyrics to attract notoriety and sell albums; he uses explicit lyrics because he is expressing himself in a shockingly honest way, and what he gives us is his own version of truth and reality. He really does have something to say, and he says it in a way that speaks not only to the culture of the streets but also to boring conservative individuals like me.
I can't find a bad song on this album, although I'm not that fond of the Ken Kaniff sketch. Eminem does things with beats and rhymes that I have never heard anyone else do, using the very rhythm of his music as a further means of communicating his ideas and feelings. 97 Bonnie and Clyde is rightfully well-known, a song which addresses real issues that many people deal with every day; it's much more than a song about someone killing his wife. Guilty Conscience is a notable track, with Eminem and Dr. Dre playing devil and angel to folks encountering real, albeit, extreme situations. One of the greatest things about Emimen is his denial of himself as some kind of role model or superman; you can't pin him down to anything, as he shifts back and forth between a "don't do like I do" message (such as can be found in Role Model) and a celebration of the parents' nightmares he is creating. His life hasn't been easy, as he relates in Rock Bottom and further expounds upon in Brain Damage. As the World Turns is a great song with pop appeal, but my favorite has to be My Fault. Lounge, the preamble of My Fault, is just amazing because its Beach Boys-esque sound is quite unexpected and a perfect lead-in to what has to be the funniest song on the album. There's all kinds of variety here, including the designated "dance track" [Come] on Everybody. "Still Don't Give a" is the perfect ending to this emotionally complex diatribe of an album, summing up in the introductory words the very essence of Eminem.
There are many individuals who would never agree with me, but I truly think there is a little Eminem in all of us. As an introvert who tries to avoid conflict, I can't help but idolize Eminem for his fearlessness, boldness, and complete dedication to individualism. His reputation guarantees a legion of men and women who will never even consider listening to his music or consider him anything more than a moral cancer on the younger generations, but I think Eminem has already proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is a talented musician capable of influencing the music of today and tomorrow in ways that many people will probably never even realize. While I enjoy his next two albums a little bit more than this one, The Slim Shady LP serves as an absolutely crucial piece to the fascinating puzzle that is Eminem.