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2000s Artist Highlight: Eminem

February 15, 2017

On May 21, 2002, Marshall Mathers, known popularly as Eminem, released one of his top-selling albums, “The Eminem Show”. In honor of one of the most influential artists of the 2000s, I have decided to fully immerge myself in the album to review yet another icon of that decade.

Eminem starts off with a 30-second intro called “Curtains Up”, followed by the song “White America”. In it, he talks about the challenges of being a white rapper that the predominant, white culture of America rejects. Another song, “Say Goodbye Hollywood”, sends a bit of an opposite message as he speaks to his conflicted feelings about the fame he achieved up to that point. He mentions past pain and heartache, revealing a vulnerability that, honestly, is refreshing especially compared to the work of many other hip-hop artists. He speaks freely of the importance of his family, whether that is the anguish he feels over the poor relationship he had with his father or the love and adoration he feels for his daughter Hailie. He devotes an entire song to her on this album, “Hailie’s Song”, and features her on “My Dad’s Gone Crazy”, where she sings with him. His most popular song on the album is probably “Without Me” and I will say, I got the ‘feels’ hearing this song, which I have not heard since at least 7th grade. I appreciate this song because there is no doubt that this man has musical talent – or maybe just talent in talking really fast. His lyrics are not only catchy but there is also actual substance to the words, which has been one of the other refreshing things about conducting this review. He closes out with a “Curtain Close”, and that’s a wrap.

Clearly, Eminem is not afraid to rap about controversial topics, something that is true both on this album and in his other work in general. This, combined with his unique voice and musical style, definitely changed the way I thought about rap and the way it “should” sound. I cannot be alone in this feeling because Eminem shook hip-hop for a reason with his approach to music. His beats are simple but his rap is complex, and his talent set him apart from the beginning of his career. Eminem is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea for obvious reasons, but his individual talent and impact on the 2000s is undeniable. Although he may not have the same influence now that he had in the last decade, he remains a household name, thanks in part to his album, “The Eminem Show”. I don’t know about you, but he’s definitely getting me excited about Coffeehouse: The 2000s!