catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 1, Num 1 :: 2002.09.13 — 2002.09.26


The show must go on

Eminem's new album continues to bring people together

No one brings people together like rapper Eminem.

Adding Marshall Mathers (his given name) and Slim Shady (his substance/wife/language-abusing alter ego) to his list of aliases, Eminem’s own trinitarian identity reflects the same spirit of togetherness that accompanies much of his life and work. When it comes to Eminem and his music, people of various colors and creeds often find common ground.

Because of Eminem, PTA members can be heard alongside pastors and priests in a mutual scolding of the rapper’s irresponsible and immoral behavior as a role model for youth. Thanks to Eminem’s music, Republicans and Democrats alike come together to reprimand the music industry for producing the kind of filth that undermines America’s core family values. Slim Shady can also be commended for the unlikely coupling of homosexuals with Christian fundamentalists who jointly rebuke the entertainer for using foul and disrespectful language. In the early days of Eminem, Marshall Mathers also united the disapproval of black and white Americans everywhere; many blacks seemed upset that a white guy was trying to rap while many whites also seemed upset that a white guy was trying to rap.

In recent years, Mathers’ gift for bringing people into each other’s company showed itself in the form of several unpleasant get-togethers in court, these regarding lawsuits filed by his mother and wife, a guilty plea to a concealed-weapon charge, a plea of “no contest” to another weapons charge and a divorce to boot. Considering all the drama that seems to go along with being Eminem, it is no surprise that the new album reflects the artist?s realization that his life is one big show.

The Eminem Show, Mathers’ newest release, lifts the curtain on a more mature performer, a proven master of rhymes who demonstrates an increasing mastery of beats, production, and the entire recording process in general. His ability to articulate the ugliness of media obsession while simultaneously embracing all that goes with it is fully evident here. And because Eminem’s own persona is tangled up in such an obsession, the artist offers his critique with the authority of personal experience.

Of course, the new album is not all critique. Much of it is the same sort of good old-fashioned fun we’ve come to expect from Eminem, the kind of merriment produced when politically correct sacred cows are smashed to pieces and the hypocrisies of American values, as well as the smugness of self-righteous moralists, are exposed and mocked. Eminem has already stirred up controversy with the recently released “White America” music video and will no doubt take some knocks for irresponsible parenting if any PTA members take the time to listen to “My Dad’s Gone Crazy,” a song featuring Mathers’ own daughter.

Fortunately, the controversies surrounding Eminem have not prevented the new album from garnering favorable reviews from the music press. The over-all success of Mathers’ newest musical endeavor, however, must again be weighed according to its capacity for bringing people together in a union of discomfort and outrage. Whether or not the scandalous artist can continue to build a career around the drama of his own life without destroying himself in the process is yet to be seen. But for now, the wind of our obsession blows favorably upon the entertainer who brings us together for another good show.

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