Friday, January 16, 2009

36 Greatest Albums: Eminem - 'The Eminem Show'

By the time this album came out I was already a full blown Eminem fan. But in order to truly describe the arc of my appreciation, it is important to return to a time when I was most definitely not a member of the Eminem Appreciation Society.

When Cousin Tim moved to Brooklyn in 2000 he brought a home-recording career that was almost the exact inverse of mine. Same amount of output but entirely different genre. He was a hip-hop fanatic and had been since the early 1980's. He'd been recording rap almost as long.

At this time I would have classified myself as an appreciator but not an aficionado of the genre. I had a few Public Enemy albums but their politics made them acceptable to a dyed-in-the-wool punk rocker like myself. When Eminem hit the scene I might has well have been a member of the Moral Majority.

All I knew was that he used the word 'faggot' with extreme regularity. I took umbrage and set about writing a song that was in essence a come-on. I wanted to shame Eminem by calling him on his homophobia. Of course, this was before I ever actually LISTENED to him. I only listened to what people SAID about him.

My Eminem flirt song never got off the ground mostly because Timothy insisted that I listen to him. After about 20 minutes I realized that he was more punk rock than anything I'd been listening to for years. The beats, the musical tracks, the WORDS. It is no surprise that Seamus Heaney is quoted on the dust cover of the new Eminem autobiography. Forget Kurt Cobain. Forget Paul Westerberg. (And if you know me you know how HUGE that is). Forget Maya Frickin' Angelou.

The voice of this generation, the one that stretches from the late '70's to 4 minutes from now, the True Poet Laureate of America is a dirtbag from Detroit who just happened to be born with two M's in front of his two names.

And 'The Eminem Show' is his 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.

He ranges from the broad scope of modern society and hypocrisy ('White America') to the deepest darkest details of his own harrowing life ('Cleaning Out My Closet').

If you are converted already and I'm preaching to you then I am glad to be in your company. If you've discounted him because of the genre he performs in or his penchant for violent hyperbole you need to take a closer look. Put aside your own prejudices and let the beat take you away.

After all, you don't want to be the Dylan fan booing at the Newport Jazz Festival because he plugged his guitar into an amplifier. Or do you?


Sheila O'Malley said...

Again, Bren. Tears. And goosebumps at the same time.

Brendan O'Malley said...

i love seeing your photo in the comment form window. hilarious. the giant pink glasses and the white white skin and the dark background.