– by Walt Mueller
©2000, The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding
He’s been described as controversial, demented, vulgar, violently warped and offensive. You won’t see him hanging around the schoolyard or at your neighborhood playground, but there are probably few kids inNorth America who haven’t encountered him and his lessons on life. Judging from his meteoric rise from nowhere into the center beam of the pop culture spotlight, the 26-year-old white kid from Detroit who’s become the new “King of Hip-Hop” has gained a huge young following for his “gleefully pathological” (Newsweek, 7/19/99) music and message. Known by our kids as Eminem, he’s hanging out with them and peddling his angry, gut-wrenching worldview through his chart-topping albums and frequent airplay on MTV.
The bleached-blonde kid with blue eyes who’s redefining the image of the “All-American Boy” has been labeled by Newsweek as the “most compelling figure in pop music” (5/29/00). When you listen to Eminem’s music while considering the definition of “compelling” (“To cause a person or thing to act or move in spite of resistance.”), the picture of this pop pied piper leading our kids through adolescence and into adulthood is terribly unsettling. Even the most progressive music magazines recognize the fact that Eminem has stretched the mainstream musical/lyrical envelope to new limits. Rolling Stone’s Toure’ says Eminem “has a macabre imagination to rival Satan’s” and calls him “a rage-filled, drug-addled, homicidal, charismatic talent and bona fide megastar” (7/6-20/00). Riggs Morales of the hip-hop magazine The Source describes him as “a 5′ 9″ purveyor of mayhem whose middle finger never seems to bow down” (7/00).
What does Eminem’s young audience think of all this? Ask them about Eminem and they’ll tell you how much they love his music. Some find it “funny.” Others find it reflective of their own life experience. One concert reviewer saw first-hand how kids take to Eminem’s music during a live show: “the filthier the music, the louder the cheers” (Anthony Bozza, Rolling Stone, 4/29/99). Like it or not, kids love Eminem.
The music and message of Eminem are gaining volume and influence in today’s youth culture. But why? What is it about this young man that’s made him the darling of so many young ears, eyes, minds and hearts? What’s the message and worldview communicated in and through the Eminem musical package? What can we learn from his growing influence and rapidly expanding audience? To find answers to these questions, we need to look beneath the music and lyrics to discover who Eminem really is and what has driven him to write and sing this music that resonates with so many kids. Looking more deeply at the Eminem history, music and appeal is not a comfortable task, but it is necessary as it offers deep insight into the collective and individual values, attitudes, and behaviors of today’s children and teens.
The Eminem story
As with most pop stars whose music is marked by anger, the man known to his fans as Eminem has not had an easy life. Born in 1973 in St. Joseph, Missouri, as Marshall Bruce Mathers III, his life’s been marked by physical, relational and spiritual poverty. Mathers was raised by his mother and has never met his father. His efforts to contact his dad through the mail always yielded nothing more than a stack of unopened letters that came back marked “return to sender.” Mathers and his mother were frequently shuttling back and forth between his hometown and Detroit, living with relatives and moving about every three months. Living on welfare and constantly evicted, Mathers grew up blaming and hating his mother for their lot in life.
Because he was never able to establish any roots, friendships were non-existent. Instead, he became an easy target for bullies. One beating left him drifting in and out of a coma for five days. Like other young outcasts, Marshall found “friends” in the world of television and comic books. He’s described his background and childhood years as “like the real, stereotypical, trailer park, white trash” (The Ultimate Band List at ubl.com).
When Marshall was 12, he and his mom finally settled down permanently in Detroit. It was then he discovered and escaped into the world of music, particularly the urban hip-hop and rap he was hearing on the streets of inner city Detroit. Rap music expressed who he was and he developed an early love affair with the music of LL Cool J and 2 Live Crew. By the age of 14 he was developing his own rap style and was winning rap contests at his local high school. Even though he was a white rapper in the black world of rap music, his talent earned him some notoriety. He began to spend more and more time with his music while letting his schoolwork slide. After failing ninth grade three times, Mathers dropped out of school to fill his time with music. He performed in several local motor city rap groups including Soul Intent, Basement Productions and The New Jacks before eventually going solo. His music helped him survive. He says, “Rap music kept my mind off all the bull___ I had to go through” (ubl.com).
Mather’s on-again off-again relationship with his girlfriend Kim took a new turn when their daughter Hailie Jade was born in 1996. It’s this little girl who has had the ability to allow Mathers to show the tender element hidden under the brash outer surface of his life.
Intent on finding success as a rap singer, Mathers began to promote himself through local shows, appearances on radio stations and at freestyle rapping competitions across the country. Along the way he began performing and recording under his nickname Eminem — a combination of his first and last initials.
In 1996 and 1997 he released his first two recordings. Infinite is an 11-track independent release and the Slim Shady EP is a 10-track demo. A small yet enthusiastic following was impressed and it wasn’t long before Eminem was being labeled as “the great white hope” for the world of rap music.
The release of the Slim Shady EP introduced his darker alter ego, Slim Shady, to the world. Eminem says the name Slim Shady (a name that came to him while sitting on the toilet) is his way of taking revenge on a world that has roughed him up pretty good. “Slim Shady is the evil side of me, the sarcastic, foul-mouthed side of me,” he says (ubl.com). The Slim Shady moniker serves as a defense mechanism for Eminem: “It gave me a chance to take what was wrong with my life and turn it back on others” (Newsweek, 5/29/00). He recently told Spin that “Slim Shady is a name for my temper and/or anger. Eminem is just the rapper. Marshall Mathers is who I am at the end of the day” (8/00).
The album also caught the attention of top-selling rap artist and producer Dr. Dre. As the story goes, Dre saw the tape sitting on the floor of Interscope Records Chief Jimmy Iovine’s garage. He picked it up and gave it a listen. Taken by what he heard, he went to see Eminem compete in the 1997 Rap Olympics MC Battle where he took second place in the freestyle category. Convinced that Eminem had great potential, Dr. Dre signed him to a recording contract. That was the last Eminem would work as a short order grill cook making $5.50 an hour.
Although he would tell you he had spent many years working to pay his dues, Eminem is an overnight sensation. The 1999 release of The Slim Shady LP made the young singer one of the biggest musical success stories of the year. He toured extensively, was featured on MTV’s Spring Break ’99 in Mexico, landed a spot on the summer of ’99 Van’s Warped Tour, and made guest appearances on numerous other artist’s albums. The exposure paid off. Eminem sold lots of records and picked up numerous awards including three 1999 MTV Video Music Awards (Best Male Video, Best New Artist, and Best Director), two Online Hip-Hop Awards (Best New Artist and Hottest Music Video), a Rolling Stone 1999 Critics’ Pick (New Artist), an MTV Europe Music Award (Best Hip-Hop), and two Grammys (Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album). The stage was set for the record-breaking spring 2000 release of Eminem’s sophomore album effort, The Marshall Mathers LP.
The music of Eminem is known as rap. The term “rap music” was first coined around 1976 as black disc jockeys in New York dance clubs began to play extended dance tracks by using two turntables and a sound mixer. By switching from one record to another without stopping the music, they would get the crowd whipped up into a frenzy while using a microphone to insert their own spoken personal commentary. As the popularity of this new urban dance craze grew, rap music was born. From that point on, rap music began to grow as a distinctively black urban alternative to the white music so popular on the radio. By the early 1980’s the genre had grown in popularity and was helping young African-Americans develop a musical sense of unity and identity.
Since its arrival as a pop music genre, rap music has served a dual role in culture. First, it is an outlet for expressing the reality of life and everyday experience, particularly while trying to survive in the oppression of the ghetto. And second, rap fulfills a prophetic role by communicating messages (both positive and negative) that show how those stuck in the rut can cope, fight and survive. The music’s power in popular culture can be seen in its ability to influence values, attitudes, behavior, conversation and attire across socioeconomic and geographic lines.
Over the years, rap has grown in popularity to the point where it is now an MTV staple and near the top of the sales charts. The genre has found an audience that extends beyond the bounds of race and class. What began in the ghetto is now mainstream. In fact, while the overwhelming majority of popular rap artists are black, the majority of rap albums sold are purchased by white males. In more recent years, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of young females who have joined the ranks of rap music fans. Eminem’s popularity is testimony to these changes as well as the crossover appeal and growing popularity of rap music. Not only are white kids buying and listening to rap music, but they are making and selling it as well.
Eminem’s talent and one-of-a-kind style combine in a rap package that’s easily understood, even by novice listeners. You can hear all the words. His distinctive nasal-toned voice often sounds like that of an animated character. Like the best impressionists, he can change the sound of his voice to go back and forth between characters in one song. The sound has a humorous quality to it and is truly unique.
Lyrically, his songs are often autobiographical cartoon-like fantasies. This explains why so many think his music is “funny.” But Eminem admits he feels a lot of anger when he writes. That anger and the subjects of many of his songs reflect the ugly reality of his difficult childhood and upbringing. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of his music is sexually and/or violently explicit and loaded with boastful in-your-face bravado. “If it’s on your mind, say it,” says Eminem. “If you’re sick enough to think it, then you’re sick enough to say it. I don’t think there’s really a limit to what I would or wouldn’t sayÃ¢â‚¬â€especially if it rhymes good. I’ve got a huge set of b____, I guess, because I say a lot of s___” (Spin, 8/00). Music critic Anthony Bozza says “his rhymes are jaw-droppingly perverse, bespeaking a minimum-wage life devoid of hope, flushed with rage and weaned on sci-fi and slasher flicks” (Rolling Stone, 4/29/99).
Eminem made his solo debut in 1996 with the independent release Infinite. The album quickly gained a small yet enthusiastic following in the rap underground. While the album met with limited sales and little mainstream exposure, its content warrants a look as several of the album’s 11 cuts offer insight into the man and his following.
The album’s title cut and first track combine to form a statement of who Eminem is and set the stage for all the music he’s released to date. “This is the season for noise pollution contamination,” he raps. “You heard of hell, well I was sent from it … I came to cause some pandemonium … There’s never been a greater (person) since the burial of Jesus … I’m infinite.”
Eminem’s heart-cries for happiness and stability go head to head with the reality of his life experience on “It’s OK”: “One day I plan to be a family man happily married … I’m still struggling hard to be the man, and it’s tough/Cause man it’s been rough/But I still manage enough/I’ve been taken advantage of, damaged and scuffed … Life is stressful inside this cesspool … It’s cumbersome/I’m trying to do well on this earth/But it’s been hell on this earth since I fell on this earth.”
On “Tonight,” a song set in the context of singing from the stage to a live audience, Eminem addresses the females in the audience regarding his intentions for drug use and a sexual encounter: “Baby all I wanna do is swallow one and two/Smoke a little bit and follow one of you/Back home when the party ends/So tonight I’m dropping naughty hints/To the finest women in the audience.”
“Maxine” is a dialogue and narrative with an AIDS-infected prostitute. The explicit lyrics describe an aggressive sexual encounter.
Always boastful about his rapping capabilities (a common theme in the songs of many hardcore rap acts), Eminem gets in the face of other rappers on “Open Mic,” threatening not only to beat them at the rap game, but to take some lives as well: “Materially, killing serially, clearly you’ll see/How much in fear when you hear me you’ll be/Shiver and shake, quiver and quake/Bit a rhyme and rip it off then stiffer and ache, whither and break/I’ll twist you into a different shape/And toss you into Michigan Lake for fisherman sake.”
Eminem’s desire for fame and fortune as the escape avenue from his impoverished life is the theme of “Never 2 Far”: “I’m trying to get rich/I got a baby on the way/I don’t even got a car/You know what I’m saying? … Look hey, we gotta make some hit records or something … cause I’m tired of being broke … I’m trying to be a millionaire man.”
When it comes to romance, Eminem seems to equate lust with love. In “Searchin'” he lets the object of his desire know there “Ain’t no one special, special like you.” While he does mention his desire to marry her, he continues on to share his sexual fantasy which starts off with some marijuana and alcohol, and ends up with him “freakin” this woman who is “incredible … in bed with edible underwear.”
Eminem’s violent streak comes out full force on the album’s final two songs. He deals with the subject of “Backstabber” by taking a butcher knife and jabbing it into his spleen, cutting him “at the seam,” and dragging him home. In “Jealousy Woes II” he answers the jealousy of a companion who catches him with some “ugly hoes”: “every accusation makes we wanna smack your face in.
Slim Shady EP (1997)
This album caught the attention of Dr. Dre. All but three of the Slim Shady EP’s songs would appear on Eminem’s future major label album debut. Those three songs are right in line with the content and style of Eminem’s previous and later writing.
“Low, Down, Dirty,” the first song on the album, issues a warning in its first line: “Warning, this s___ gonna be rated R, restricted.” In the very next line, Eminem offers an explanation for the rating: “You see this bullet hole in my neck?/It’s self-inflicted/Doctor slapped my momma/B____ you got a sick kid/Arrested, molested myself and got convicted.”
“No One Iller than Me” is a boastful song degrading other rappers’ talent. In true Eminem style, the song includes a series of horrifying admissions and fantasies including murder, drunkenness, oral sex, hanging his grandmother by her neck on a hook, a sexual affair with a 10-year-old, etc.
“Murder, Murder” is a graphic and frightening first-person murder fantasy: “Grabbed her by the throat/It’s murder she wrote/You barely heard a word as she choked … But I slammed her on her back ’til her vertebrae broke.”
Slim Shady LP (1999)
With sales of over 480,000 copies in its first two weeks of release and a debut at #3 on the Billboard charts, Eminem’s first major release thrust the rapper into the pop culture mainstream in a big way. Described by the singer as an album full of “vulgar humor,” the disc has gone on to sell over four million copies and has remained on the charts since its release.
The Slim Shady LP is an envelope-stretching collection of 20 cuts (songs and spoken “skits”) that are full of graphic violence, sex, drug use, rape and more. CDNow’s Adam Heimlich calls it a “non-stop onslaught of exaggerated comic book violence, misogynist narratives and hilarious self-deprecation.”
The CD’s cover features a disturbing photo taken at the end of a pier on a moonlit night. In the background, Eminem stands next to his daughter Hailie as they look over the pier railing. In the foreground sits the back end of a car with the trunk popped open all the way. Two legs hang out of the trunk. The content of the picture is clarified in the song “97′ Bonnie & Clyde,” a graphic fantasy about Eminem killing his wife by slitting her throat and then driving her body to the pier, where he and Hailie attach rocks to her before dumping her into the water. It’s sobering to think that Eminem has dedicated the album to his little girl. The photo on the backside of the liner notes shows Eminem with blood splattered on his shirt and hands while he peers at the camera with a “so what” look on his face.
As you ponder the lyrical content of the Slim Shady LP, keep in mind the full-color double-panel drawing inside the liner notes. The drawing features a run-down trailer with mushrooms growing on the roof. Two large women chase a figure wrapped like a mummy. That figure is Eminem. On the outside end of the trailer is some graffiti that reads, “Free Slim Shady.” The drawing represents the painful reality that was Marshall Mather’s childhood and is his current heart cry for freedom.
The album begins with a narrated, tongue-in-cheek “official sounding” public service announcement: “This is a public service announcement brought to you in part by Slim Shady. The views and events expressed here are totally f_____ and are not necessarily the views of anyone. However, the events and suggestions that appear on this album are not to be taken lightly. Children should not partake in the listening of this album with laces in their shoes. Slim Shady is not responsible for your actions. Upon purchasing this album you have agreed not to try this at home. Anything else?” A short silence is followed by Eminem answering in a mocking, sarcastic tone, “Yeah, don’t do drugs.” This first cut is a slam on those genuinely concerned with Eminem’s music.
Immediately, Eminem breaks into “My Name Is,” the first song on the album and the single/video release that sent the album rocketing to the top of the charts thanks to lots of time spent in MTV heavy rotation. (See lyrics on page 7.) The autobiographical song serves as an introduction to his new army of fans, setting the pace for the Eminem package of lyrics, theme, content and attitude. After asking if he can have the attention of the “class” for one second, Eminem teaches them about violence, drugs, sex, suicide, anger and authority. He tells listeners about his mission in life: “I don’t give a f___, God sent me to piss the world off!” The pain of broken family comes through loud and clear as he verbally attacks his mother (for a number of things including using “more dope than I do”) and then ends the song with a message to the father he’s never met: “And by the way when you see my dad … tell him that I slit his throat in this dream I had.” Eminem’s mother is so distraught over the content of this and several other songs that she filed a $10 million dollar defamation of character lawsuit in September 1999 against her son.
The next cut is “Guilty Conscience,” also released as a single and dropped into heavy rotation on MTV. The song follows a battle where Eminem and Dr. Dre fight it out as evil and good consciences who offer advice to a trio of characters facing ethical dilemmas. Twenty-three-year-old Eddie is fed up with life and decides to rob a liquor store. Dre (representing good) tries to get him to stop and consider the consequences, while Eminem encourages him to rob the store and then shoot his own aunt while he hides out at her place. In the second scenario, 21-year-old Stan meets a young 15-year-old girl at a rave party and takes her upstairs. Eminem persuades him to slip a date rape drug in her drink and “f___ this b____ right here on the spot bare.” Dre tries to persuade Stan to leave. In the third scenario, a 29-year-old construction worker named Grady comes home to find his wife in bed with another man. Eminem angrily tells Grady to slit her throat and “cut this b______ head off!!” Dre tries to get him to breathe deep, relax and think about his response. Eminem then turns to Dre and works to convince him of the need for revenge and drastic action in this situation. In a sad and sorry twist, good finally gives in to evil and the song ends with Dr. Dre rapping, “Aw, f___ it! What am I saying? Shoot ’em both Grady. Where’s your gun at?” The gun is heard firing, cocking and firing again.
Eminem’s childhood experience of being bullied is the sad subject of the autobiographical song “Brain Damage.” Scrawny kids who get picked on mercilessly will connect with the song, its feelings and, perhaps, its solutions. In the song, Eminem recounts being bullied by D’Angelo Bailey, an eighth grader who shoved him into lockers, banged his head into the urinal, and beat him until he was bloody. In fact, Bailey is the one who put Eminem into a five-day coma. Eminem angrily proposes that the bullied fight back against the bully (“I cocked the broomstick back and swung hard as I could/and beat him over the head with it ’til I broke the wood”), authority (in this case the school principal who didn’t care), and even parents. In the song, Eminem gets mad at his mother for not believing his story. She proceeds to beat him over the head with the remote control. This is a song about the powerless looking for power.
The next cut is one of several “skits” on the album. “Paul,” is a short recording of a phone message from Eminem’s attorney telling him to tone done the lyrical content of the album before its release.
Emptiness, anger and hopelessness are the theme of “If I Had …” In the song, he waxes philosophical by asking a series of questions while in a state of being fed up with life: “What is life? Life is like a big obstacle put in front of your optical to slow you down/And every time you think you gotten past it, it’s gonna come back around and tackle you to the d___ ground … What is money? Money is what make a man act funny … What is life? I’m tired of life.” Eminem never answers this groan for redemption with the truth. Instead, he fantasizes about what he would do to improve the quality of life: “If I had a million dollars I’d buy a d___ brewery and turn the planet into alcoholics/If I had a magic wand I’d make the world suck my d___ without a condom on while I’m on the john/If I had a million bucks it still wouldn’t be enough because I’d still be out robbing armored trucks/If I had one wish I would ask for a big enough a__ for the whole world to kiss.” He concludes, “How am I supposed to be positive when I don’t see s___ positive? … just fed up.”
“’97 Bonnie & Clyde” is a disturbing reminder of what can happen when a child grows up in a home where they don’t understand the true nature of love or where they’ve never seen an example of how to love. Written in a jealous rage after the pain of a break-up with his then girlfriend, Kim, an angry Eminem describes to his little daughter every step of murdering her mother and disposing of the body in graphic detail as it happens: “There goes mama, spwashin in the wa-ta/No more fighting with dad/No more restraining order/No more step-da-da/No more new brother/Blow her kisses bye-bye, tell mama you love her … just you and me baby is all we need in this world … your da-da loves you/I love you baby.” Eminem has since reconciled with Kim and married her. He says he doesn’t listen to the song anymore but admits that he did want to kill her after they broke up and she hooked up with another man. It’s no surprise that Eminem has a tombstone tattooed to his belly. On the tombstone are these words: KIM: ROT IN PIECES. In an interesting side note, this killing fantasy is an underhanded parody of Will Smith’s song, “Just The Two of Us,” which Smith wrote for his young son.
“Bitch” is another phone message skit. In it, a girl name Zoe complains about how “f______ disgusting” Eminem’s music is.
Eminem sends a message to kids in “Role Model,” a song offering dangerous little lessons on life to his young audience. “You can try this at home/You can be just like me!” He proceeds to promote violence, drug abuse and promiscuity: “I strangled you to death then I choked you again/Then break your f_____ legs till your bones poke through your skin … I get you blunted off of funny home grown … follow me and do exactly what the song says: smoke weed, take pills, drop outta school, kill people and drink … now follow me and do exactly what you see/Don’t you wanna grow up to be just like me?/I slap women and eat shrooms then O.D. … So when you see your mom with a thermometer shoved in her a__/Then it probably is obvious I got it on with her … I’ve been with 10 women who got HIV/Don’t you wanna grow up to be just like me?!”
“My Fault” is a fantasy account of Eminem’s trip to a rave party where he meets a girl who is a potential sexual partner: “A nurse aid who came to get laid and tied up with first aid tape and raped on the first date.” He forces her to get high on mushrooms so he can rape her. She dies and he says he’s sorry, one of the few musical moments when Eminem shows any remorse.
The title of “Cum on Everybody” is a word-play on male ejaculate. The degrading and hopeless song is perverse, sexual and violent: “My favorite color is red like the blood shed/From Kurt Cobain’s head/When he shot himself dead … women all grabbin’ at my shishkabob … I tried suicide once and I’ll try it again/That’s why I write songs where I die at the end.”
Eminem calls “Rock Bottom” a very serious song that he wrote after getting fired from his job as a cook just five days before Hailie’s first birthday. Poor and not sure how he was going to be able to provide for himself, his girlfriend and Hailie, Eminem raps about taking drugs to cope and vents his animosity toward happy people who have money. The song gives good insight into the reality of poverty but is steeped in the worldview that money will solve all ills. To his credit, Eminem does recognize the dangers (cash will “blind us … brainwash you … leave your a__ mindless.”). He admits, “my life is full of empty promises and broken dreams/I’m hoping things will look up.” In the end, money is the answer to his cries and he concludes it’s okay to steal or kill in order to get some: “I want the money, the women, the fortune, and the fame/That means I’ll end up burning in hell scorching in flames/That means I’m stealing your checkbook and forging your name/Lifetime bliss for eternal torture and pain … Holding two glocks I hope your door’s locked … I’m running up on someone’s lawns with guns drawn.”
Eminem postures boldly against other rap singers on “Just Don’t Give A F___.” He asserts his rap supremacy with a litany of profane boasts: “I’m doin acid, crack, smack, coke and smoking dope then/My name is Marshall Mathers, I’m an alcoholic … better hide your wallet cause I’m coming up quick to strip your cash … I’ll slit your motherf______ throat worse than Ron Goldman … dumpin’ your dead body inside a f______ trash can with more holes than an Afghan … went to gym in eighth grade, raped the women’s swim team.”
“As The World Turns” begins with Eminem saying, “I don’t know why this world keeps turning round and round/But I wish it would stop and let me off right now.” He proceeds to liken his life story to a soap opera: “It all started when my mother took my new bike away cuz I murdered my guinea pig and stuck him in the microwave.” He proceeds to talk about his drug abuse, getting bullied and being angry. The song ends with Eminem dealing with his anger by violently raping a “trailer park b____.”
“I’m Shady” is a self-description that leaves the impression Eminem is very proud of who he is. In it he talks with a boastful attitude about killing, doing drugs, having his preschool teacher perform oral sex on him, suicide, contracting sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
“Bad Meets Evil” is another violent fantasy song where Eminem and rapper Royce da-five-nine boast: “Above the law cuz I don’t agree wit police either/We ain’t eager to be legal … releasin’ rage on anybody in squeezing range.”
The album ends with an angry and violent song that captures the essence of Eminem’s worldview in its content and title: “Still Don’t Give A F___.” The deep cries of many in today’s youth culture can be heard in Eminem’s sad words: “My brain’s gone my soul’s worn and my spirit is torn … I don’t know why the f___ I’m here in the first place/My worst day on this earth was my first birthday.”
The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
His place and popularity in the music world firmly established, Eminem’s second album was released in May 2000 and went immediately to #1 on the Billboard charts. Kids rushed to stores to buy their copy of The Marshall Mathers LP. During the first week, the album sold 1.76 million copies, a record for first week sales by a solo artist—eclipsing the record set by Britney Spears. By the end of its second week of release, 2.56 million copies had been sold. Going into the fall of 2000, Eminem was a radio, MTV and youth culture fixture.
Entertainment Weekly labeled it “the first great pop record of the 21st century” (6/2/00). Newsweek called it “absorbing and appalling in equal measure.” (5/29/00). Above all, the album’s lyrical content is true to everything we’ve already heard from Eminem. Rolling Stone’s Toure’ calls the album “loud, wild, dangerous, out-of-control, grotesque, unsettling. It’s also impossible to pull your ears away from” (7/6-20/00).
The photo on the front of the album speaks volumes about Eminem’s continued sense of spiritual, emotional and relational poverty. The singer is seen huddling in a fetal position against the backdrop of a depressingly gray loading dock. On the ground in front of him sits an empty pill vial and bottle of booze. One quickly realizes the huge financial rewards from his successful Slim Shady LP have done nothing to ease his pain. His anger, emptiness and yearning are still there. Throughout the autobiographical album, Eminem wears his hurting heart on his sleeve.
Like his 1999 release, the album opens with a “public service announcement”: “This is another public service announcement brought to you in part by Slim Shady. Slim Shady does not give a f___ what you think. If you don’t like it you can suck his f______ c___. Little did you know upon purchasing this album you have just kissed his a__. Slim Shady is fed up with your s___ and he’s going to kill you. Anything else?” Eminem answers the announcer’s question with these words: “Yea, sue me!!”
Eminem immediately addresses his mother and her $10 million defamation of character lawsuit with the song “Kill You.” He tells her, “Put your hands down b____, I ain’t gonna shoot you/I’ma pull you to this bullet and put it through you/Shut up slut, you’re causing too much chaos/Just bend over and take it like a slut, okay Ma” He proceeds to fantasize about raping and killing his mother and then directs the same venom on women in general. The words of the chorus are frightening: “I said you don’t wanna f___ with Shady/Cause Shady will f______ kill you.” At the end, Eminem tries to make the song out to be a big joke: “Ha, ha, ha, I’m just playin’ ladies/You know I love you.” Really?
Throughout the album, Eminem addresses the many consequences of his sudden rise to fame and musical success. “Stan” is an exchange between the singer and an obsessive fan. In the song, Eminem reads three letters from Stan. Each letter becomes increasingly angry as Stan is frustrated that Eminem doesn’t respond. The second letter offers valuable insight into the powerful role that music plays in the lives of kids who see it as a mirror of their own reality. Stan writes: “See, I’m just like you in a way/I never knew my father neither/He used to always cheat on my mom and beat her/I can relate to what you’re saying in your songs/So when I have a s_____ day I drift away and put ‘em on … that s___ helps when I’m depressed/I even got a tattoo of your name across the chest/Sometimes I even cut myself to see how much it bleeds/It’s like adrenaline, the pain is such a sudden rush for me.” The last letter comes in the form of a cassette tape. In it, Stan says his final frustrated words to Eminem and then kills himself by driving his car over a bridge into a river. Listeners hear it all as it happens.
Eminem continues to be flabbergasted at the extent of his popularity and musical power on “Who Knew?” He describes his music to his critics: “I make fight music for high school kids/I put lives at risk when I drive like this/I put wives at risk with a knife like this.” He asks them, “you want me to fix up (my) lyrics while the President gets his d___ sucked?” Eminem continues: “Get aware, wake up, get a sense of humor/Quit tryin’ to censor music, this is for your kid’s amusement … I never knew I would get this big/I never knew I’d affect this kid … get him to slit his wrist … get him to hit this bitch.”
“The Way I Am” is an angry “leave me alone” letter to his critics. He defends his music and message as a form of release and self-therapy for dealing with his pain: “Since birth I’ve been cursed with this curse to just curse/And just blurt this berserk and bizarre s___ that works/And it sells and it helps in itself to relieve all this tension dispensin these sentences/gettin’ this stress that’s been eatin’ me recently off of this chest/And I rest again peacefully … at least have the decency in you to leave me alone … I’m tired of all of you … I don’t mean to be mean but that’s all I can be is just me … I’m so sick and tired of bein’ admired that I wish I would just die or get fired.”
The defense of his music continues in “The Real Slim Shady.” This time he not only blasts out at his media critics, but at many of the recent best-selling pop bands: “I’m sick of you little girl and boy groups/All you do is annoy me/So I have been sent here to destroy you.” He rails against their “sugarcoated” music and defends his commitment to make music that is honest and real. In true Eminem style, the song includes references to intercourse and oral sex. The song was the number one most requested video on MTV’s Total Request Live during the month of May 2000.
“Remember Me” is a revenge fantasy on those who don’t like his music and who blame it for causing society’s woes.
Eminem goes back after his critics and other musicians on “I’m Back.” He boasts about his rapping skills: “I murder a rhyme one word at a time/You never heard of a mind as perverted as mine.” He blames his present “who cares” attitude on his upbringing: “I used to get punked and bullied on my block/’Til I cut a kitten’s head off and stuck it in this kid’s mailbox/I used to give a f___, now I could give a f___ less.” He directly attacks rapper Puff Daddy by boasting that he (Eminem) had unprotected sex with Puff Daddy’s girlfriend Jennifer Lopez: “I’m sorry Puff but I don’t give a f___ if this chick was my own mother/I still f___ her with no rubber.”
The album’s first single release, “Marshall Mathers,” is an autobiographical and angry “leave me alone” song. In it, Eminem confesses that since achieving fame and fortune, people either want his money or are super critical of his music and success. He sings: “You see I’m just Marshall Mathers/I’m just a regular guy/I don’t know why all the fuss about me/Nobody ever gave a f___ before/All they did was doubt me/Now everybody wanna run they mouth and try to take shots at me … I’ll knock you out if you talk about me.” The song is marked by Eminem’s gangsta posturing and put downs to all the boy/girl artists and groups that topped the pop charts over the last 18 months. He goes after Ricky Martin, the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync (“these f_____ brats can’t sing”), Britney Spears (“What’s this b____ retarded?”), and even New Kids on The Block (they “sucked a lot of d___.”). He states his perceived purpose in life: “I think I was put here to annoy the world and destroy your little four-year-old boy or girl.” Other targets of Eminem’s venomous outbursts include homosexuals (“I was put here to put fear in faggots … I’ll knock you f_____ faggots the f___ out.”), and his mother (“My f_____ b____ mom’s suin for ten million/She must want a dollar for every pill I’ve been stealin/S___, where the f___ do you think I picked up the habit?/All I had to do was go in her room and lift up her mattress.”
Another of Eminem’s trademark skits is the next short cut on the disc. Listeners are led to believe that a tape recorder was left running on “Ken Kaniff.” What is heard are the explicit sounds of two men performing oral sex on another. Nothing is left to the listener’s imagination.
Eminem calls “Drug Ballad” “my love song.” The song catalogs his use of various types of drugs over the years beginning with sniffing glue in third grade. He sings the praises of substance abuse and the benefits of partying as a precursor to sexual encounters marked by violence: “In a couple of minutes that bottle of Guinness is finished/You are now allowed to officially slap b______/You have the right to remain violent.” He confesses his dependence on drugs (“Every time I try to tell them no/They won’t let me ever let them go/I’m a sucka all I gotta say/These drugs really got ahold of me.”) and encourages his young listeners to join in (“You’re young, you’ve got a lot of drugs to do/Girls to screw/Parties to crash/Sucks to be you/If I could take it all back now, I wouldn’t/I would have did more s___ that people said that I shouldn’t.”). It’s easy to read between the lines and see that Eminem has given up the hope of experiencing anything better. Perhaps the saddest line in the entire song is the one that looks into the future to envision what his daughter will be doing when she’s grown up: “Two grandkids in my lap/Babysitting for Hailie while Hailie’s out getting smashed.”
“Amityville” is a true horror that begins with a voice whispering “Kill, kill, kill.” In the song, Eminem and Bizarre (another rapper) alternately spew out boastful threats to an enemy including sodomy, gang rape and incest. The lyrics are chilling: “I f_____ my cousin in his a__hole/Slit my mother’s throat … my little sister’s birthday, she’ll remember me/For a gift I had ten of my boys take her virginity.”
Rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Xzibit join Eminem on “Bitch Please II” to dispense more threats and bravado in an angry tirade that serves to defend the white Eminem’s ascendancy into the predominantly black world of hip-hop music. Dr. Dre threatens to shoot anyone who looks at him the wrong way. Snoop Dogg says he’s got about 50 guns, all of which he loves the same. Nate Dogg verbally waves around a 12-gauge shotgun. Eminem then steps to the mic to share what’s in his heart: “I’m just a criminal makin a living off of the world’s misery/What in the world gives me the right to say what I like/And walk around flippin the bird livin the urban life/like a white kid from the burbs/Dreamin at night of screamin at mom, scheming to leave/Run away from home and grow to be as evil as me/I just want you all to notice me and people to see that somewhere deep down, there’s a decent human being in me/It just can’t be found.” Read those words from Eminem again. They resonate powerfully with lots of kids who are feeling the same things.
“Kim” is actually the chronological prelude to the “‘97 Bonnie & Clyde” cut off The Slim Shady LP. This incredibly disturbing “song” is an argument where Eminem plays the parts of himself and his then-girlfriend (and now-wife) Kim. In a jealous rage, Eminem threatens his estranged girlfriend, screaming at her while she begs for mercy. In the fantasy, Eminem kills Kim’s boyfriend, his young son and then turns the knife on Kim. The final lines are chilling: “Now shut the f___ up and get what’s coming to you/You were supposed to love me (Kim is heard choking)/NOW BLEED! B____ BLEED! BLEED! B____ BLEED! BLEED!” What happens next is captured on the cover photo of The Slim Shady LP.
The edited “clean” version of The Marshall Mathers LP omits “Kim” and has “The Kids” in its place. This song features Eminem as a teacher, giving some lessons on life to a group of young children in a classroom setting. It’s really no better than the cut it replaced. He teaches them how to “poison squirrels” and describes a man named “Bob” who uses drugs and kills a waitress (in a similar fashion to Eminem’s “Kim” fantasy). Eminem then sarcastically passes on some positive lessons followed by what he really wants the kids to learn: “So kids say no to drugs—smoke crack … so don’t do drugs—suck my motherf_____ penis—so there’ll be more for me.” At one point, he asks his young audience, “My penis is the size of peanut, have you seen it?” Keep in mind, this is the song that appeared on the “clean” version of the LP.
Five other rappers join Eminem on “Under The Influence,” another violent and vile song that rants against his critics and detractors. In the song’s first two lines Eminem tells them “you can suck my d___ if you don’t like my s___/Cause I was high when I wrote this so suck my d___—ha ha!” The song catalogs a number of violent acts including sodomizing a woman with a tire iron, setting a preacher on fire, bestiality and shootings. The message of the song is simple—don’t mess around with us or you’re going to get it.
“Criminal” is the album’s last cut and continues in the same vein. Confessional in nature, the song offers direct insight into the man and his message. He says his “words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/That’ll stab you in the head” and they reflect his experiences in life as well as what’s on his mind. He seeks to justify his thematic content by pointing out the hypocrisy of those who criticize him the most. To religious leaders who pray for him, he points out that many so-called “righteous” people are involved in materialism and adultery. To government officials who seek to silence his music he wonders out loud about the sexual behavior of the President. “I’m a criminal,” raps Eminem. “Cuz every time I write a rhyme, these people think it’s a crime to tell em what’s on my mind/I guess I’m a criminal/but I don’t gotta say a word, I just flip ‘em the bird and keep goin/I don’t take s___ from no one.” The song includes an interlude skit in which Eminem robs a bank and kills the teller. As the album comes to a close, Eminem sings, “S___, half the s___ I say I just make it up/To make you mad so kiss my white naked a__/And if it’s not a rapper that I make it as/I’ma be a f______ rapist in a Jason mask.” Eminem is an angry young man and his music is the steam valve for releasing his built up pressure.
What’s the draw?
What is it about Eminem that’s sent him and his in-your-face brand of violent and sexually explicit gangsta rap to the top of the charts and into the mainstream of the popular music world? Why is it that so many kids are drawn to, rather than repulsed by, the music of the man born Marshall Mathers. Here are a few reasons.
First, Eminem’s music is catchy and crisp, making it suited for the mainstream pop music audience. As vile and disturbing as the lyrical content may be, this is music marked by infectious beats and tunes which, when combined with Eminem’s unique voice and delivery, makes listeners tap their feet to “melodies” that easily get stuck in the “mind’s ear” and are not soon forgotten. For this reason, many kids would label the music as “good” and/or “fun.”
Second, the Eminem musical package is marked from top to bottom by a brash sense of vulnerability and honesty. Like a little child who opens his mouth to say whatever’s on his mind without regard to audience, setting or possibility of offending the listener, Eminem uses his music to reveal his thoughts, feelings and beliefs without reservation. Repulsed by “phonies,” today’s emerging generation values genuine openness that doesn’t beat around the bush. One quick listen to any of Eminem’s songs and you know exactly where he’s coming from on the subject or matter at hand. This is music that honestly expresses the reality of Eminem. No doubt, the man’s a straight shooter. What he sings is what you get. It probably won’t come as a surprise that Eminem was charged with assault and carrying a concealed weapon in June of this year.
Third, Eminem’s music serves to verbally express the inner struggles of others who share his life experience or feelings. Life has not been easy for Marshall Mathers. Many of his followers and fans see him as a poster boy who verbalizes and reflects the reality of their life experience. His music is so marked by the autobiographical element that it is often difficult to separate the reality from the fantasy. He recognizes the power of his music to connect when he says, “The more personal I get, the more people can relate to me … relate to my pain, relate to what I’ve gone through, my little personal dilemmas … whatever” (CDNow). Kids who have been bullied, failed and/or forgotten by friends and family, relationally starved, or grown up in a fatherless home see Eminem as someone who knows their reality. To some, he becomes (through his music) their “friend.” For others, he’s a mouthpiece—expressing the rage, anger and pain they find so hard to put into words. They listen and say, “That’s me.” Eminem says, “I’ve wanted to kill kids that used to bully me in school. I know what it’s like to come home crying and slamming the door and screaming and breaking s___ in my room” (Newsweek, 7/19/99). One 19-year-old fan says this about his idol’s music: “A lot of us got picked on in school too—that’s why it’s so good” (Newsweek, 7/19/99).
Fourth, for kids who have experienced life on the Eminem edge, listening to his music sometimes serves as a form of “therapy” and release. Unable to handle the root causes of their anger, kids who are angry often tell us that shutting the door to their room and listening to music is a way to express their rage and vent steam in a manner that’s “better than going out and killing somebody.” Unhealthy and sad? Yes. But when no one has ever presented you with other options, pumping up the volume and shaking your fist at the world for a few rage-filled minutes might be the best available option for dealing with things.
Fifth, Eminem is a musical storyteller. Today’s kids love stories. Adults who want to communicate a message to millennial children and teens are most effective when they use stories as the vehicle. Not only are many of Eminem’s songs short stories that can be engaging, but his albums serve to tell his story, from childhood right on through to adulthood. That makes it easy for the collective youth culture to feel “invited” to climb up on Eminem’s “lap” for “storytime.” After sitting up there awhile, they feel like they “know” him.
Sixth, the stress on individualism in today’s postmodern world makes the cultural soil fertile ground for a guy like Eminem. The ultimate source of authority in a postmodern world is me, myself and I. The days of appealing to a commonly held, transcendent source of authority are passing quickly. The final court of appeal is the individual and how he/she feels at any given moment in time. With no constraining standards, anything goes and anything can be said. Eminem’s approach to making music is an “anything goes” approach. One listen to his music and you know he is going to say whatever he wants to say. This type of individualism is not just tolerated or allowed—it’s celebrated. In that sense, Eminem is a man who truly reflects the times. He affirms the culture’s commitment to be true to yourself and to your own feelings as the final authority on all matters and in all decisions.
Seventh, the heart-longings and groans of the emerging generation are clearly expressed by Eminem. Eminem is a man with a gaping hole in his soul. While his music reflects the questions, it doesn’t offer any answers. Restless souls will be attracted to his music not only because it reflects their own hunger for redemption, but because it proposes answers. Sadly, Eminem’s answers don’t come close to the only solution that can satisfy their longings. Still, it offers something more than many have ever heard.
And finally, this is music that’s been heavily marketed to a youth culture that’s welcomed its arrival with open arms. Hip-hop is hot. As a musical genre, it emigrated from the ghetto and crossed racial and socioeconomic lines years ago. Now white and black kids alike listen to rap and can point to Eminem as a rapper who is new and different just by the color of his skin. And, in a year when the charts have been dominated by formulated pop bands singing frothy pop tunes, Eminem offers an exciting and edgy alternative. Heavy exposure and airplay on radio and MTV have guaranteed his success among children of all ages. While older fans may be drawn to the music because of its message, an army of very young music fans is listening to Eminem because he’s on the charts and on the airwaves. Elementary school kids are talking about Eminem on the playground. Why wouldn’t they want to buy his albums?
How should we respond?
What, then, should concerned parents and youth workers make of Eminem and his music? Can we use the man and his music as a window into the world of today’s youth culture? If so, what will we see as we look at the children and teens we know and love? And what is a proper, constructive and Biblical response to the troubling messages of Eminem’s music? CPYU offers the following analysis and suggestions to get you thinking about how you can respond:
First, God is using Eminem to issue a clear call to all of us who care about kids: we must listen and understand. No, I don’t think Eminem is a prophet. But I do believe his music serves to clearly (and in a sense prophetically) express the issues and concerns of a generation dealing with deep-rooted spiritual, emotional and relational brokenness. While music like this is hard for us to listen to or stomach, we must realize it comes from a heart that’s been beaten, bruised and hardened from years of facing severe circumstances with little or no positive guidance and help. While we might long to hit a switch and shut off Eminem’s music, the personal issues beneath the music remain. The music is symptomatic. We must listen to Eminem, asking his music to help us understand the man and the underlying issues that have caused him to adopt the worldview expressed so clearly in his music. Understanding the individual who’s made the music is the first step in understanding the collective consciousness of his followers who share a similar life story. It’s also the first step in knowing how to counter the negative messages Eminem is sending out to his impressionable young audience with lessons on life that are in line with a Biblical world and life view. We can’t turn our heads and walk away from Eminem in disgust. His music is pervasive for a reason. Our job is to find out why.
Second, Eminem is an engaging entertainer whose appeal to the full age-spectrum in the pop music audience makes him a powerful molder and shaper of young hearts and minds. A love for rap music is shared by kids of all ages in all places. It’s in the mainstream and at the top of the charts. Eminem’s ascendancy to rap superstardom has further cemented rap’s place as music that’s moved from the ghetto into the world. Heavy airplay means more and more younger kids (elementary and preteen) will be drawn to the music. While their initial attraction to Eminem might have been spurred on by the fact that “all my friends like it and have it,” their impressionable young hearts and minds will be molded and shaped as they become familiar with Eminem’s songs and lifestyle. At just the age when they begin to seek answers to life’s most significant questions, Eminem meets them right where they’re at with guidance and answers that will leave a deep mark on their values, attitudes and behaviors. Sadly, Eminem doesn’t invite them down the narrow road that leads to life. Instead, he’s blazing a path down a wide road littered with casualties of spiritual emptiness.
Third, Eminem’s music helps us see the Millennial Generation in a new and different light. We believe the analysis of Millennial Kids (children born after 1980) has been far too optimistic, especially regarding the level of hope they have for their future. Eminem’s primary audience is the Millennial generation. Eminem’s primary message is one marked by nihilism and hopelessness. He writes from the perspective of looking back on a life filled with busted and broken relationships, particularly at the level of family. Consequently, his message offers guidance on how to live (survive) in a busted world. As you’ve already seen, it’s not a hopeful and positive life. The appeal of his music to this generation of kids leads us to realize two sobering facts about this emerging generation of kids. First, the kids drawn to his music by their shared experience of busted and broken relationships will find a message of hopelessness, not lasting hope, in Eminem’s music. With the statistics on family breakdown on the rise, we can only imagine that as they come of age, a growing legion of kids from this generation will evidence Eminem’s hurt and rage. And second, for those kids who listen to Eminem but don’t/won’t share his relational experience, his message (and others like it) will serve to undermine and erode any hope they might have.
Fourth, the movement of Eminem’s music into the mainstream serves as another reminder of our need to understand these postmodern times and the growing grip the postmodern world view has on our kids. Our current postmodern climate has created an environment uniquely suited for the music of Eminem. His music reflects the replacement of a commonly held transcendent moral order that doesn’t waver, with individual and personal preference as the supreme final authority on matters of right and wrong. In this kind of world, Eminem can do and say whatever he wants whenever he wants. There are no limits or boundaries. The fact that music once seen as “filthy” debuts at the top of the charts indicates our culture has no problem with Eminem and his message. When the postmodern worldview takes root and grows, we are certain to see a decline in civility, respect, decency and responsibility. Instead, we celebrate songs that graphically depict horrific acts of violence and murder. These postmodern attitudes are taking root in a growing number of young lives—both Christian and non-Christian alike. Effective parenting and youth ministry in a postmodern world must be preceded by a growing understanding of this new cultural climate. Postmodernism is here, it’s going to stay, and we’ve got to understand and address it.
Fifth, while many will react to Eminem and his followers with condemnation and a cold heart, we should respond with a grieving heart and warm compassion. Eminem has issued a big “screw you” to the world. For the followers of Christ to write him and his followers off as unredeemable and unworthy of our ministry efforts would be wrong. I wonder what Jesus would do with the music and attitude of a lost and broken soul like Eminem. Would he angrily condemn and walk away? Or, would He grieve Eminem’s lost and misguided condition, then seek to connect with a challenge that is direct and marked by warmth and compassion? All too often we take the former path. We must realize these are kids who have spent their lives viewing a passing parade of turned backs and cold hearts. They want and need to be loved and touched by someone who cares. Could the call of God be any clearer?
Sixth, the music of Eminem serves to remind us of contemporary youth culture’s pervasive spiritual hunger. A look beneath Eminem’s abrasive exterior reveals a hurting heart that can only be filled and healed by God. Granted, this is some of the worst and edgy music I’ve ever heard. Eminem has stretched the envelope. But when the bad news is this bad and this dark, the Good News is that much better and brighter. Eminem is a mouthpiece for our culture’s cry for redemption. This music should motivate the church to build relationships with those screaming dark hearts longing to be illumined by God’s Good News.
Seventh, Eminem raises many issues we must discuss with our kids from the perspective of a Biblical world and life view. Where Eminem teaches inappropriate and wrong attitudes, values and behaviors, we must counter those messages with Biblical truth. We must provide them with direction on what is right and what is wrong. We must define “love” and provide an example of what it means to be in a healthy male/female relationship and how to treat members of the opposite sex with dignity and respect. We must question the dark humor of Eminem and the comments of those who say “he’s funny.” Then, we must teach them about the proper place and use of humor. We must help them understand how to handle anger and to reject violence and revenge as options for dealing with conflict. And, we must teach them about selflessness, respect for others, and Godly submission to authority.
Eighth, we must seek to answer their heart cries not with simple cliches or pat answers, but in the context of committed, loving relationships. Because so many young lives are marked by relational letdowns and trails of brokenness, we must go out of our way to connect for the long haul—anything less will be seen as another rejection. And, our rejection of them will lead to their rejection of us andthe message we hope to communicate. They need to experience relationships like they’ve never had before—relationships marked by openness, vulnerability, honesty and permanence. In his gut, this is what Eminem is longing for himself.
Ninth, Eminem issues an indirect call to strengthen our families. By showing us the ugly reality of family breakdown, Eminem issues us a call to diligent parenting. He challenges fathers to be intimately involved in the lives of their kids. Youth workers and pastors hear a call to minister with a mind to building strong families.
Tenth, wise parents won’t allow Eminem to be part of their child’s musical diet. You wouldn’t believe how many parents of young children have bought Eminem’s albums for their kids. Some are naive to the lyrical content. Others know but just don’t care. If you’ve got younger kids expressing interest in Eminem, draw the line and say “no.” Use the conversation as a teachable moment to instill media literacy skills by explaining your reasons. If your older kids are into Eminem, sit down with them to listen to and discuss the music. Seek to understand their attraction and then address the issues and voids that may have drawn them to the music. Are there themes and issues in Eminem’s songs that reflect your child’s experience and concerns? Encourage them to make wise media and music choices.
And finally, pray for Eminem and his followers. I believe Eminem has never truly experienced love. He needs more than anything else to come face-to-face with the redeeming love of Christ and peace that passes all understanding. While Eminem has said God has sent him into the world to “piss the world off,” our prayer is that Eminem would meet the One who God sent into the world to bring real life.
My name is
Hi! My name is/My name is/My name is Slim Shady/ Hi! My name is/My name is/My name is Slim Shady
Ahem…excuse me/Can I have the attention of the class for one second/Hi kids! Do you like violence?(Yeah yeah yeah!)/Wanna see me stick Nine Inch Nails through each one of my eyelids?(Uh-huh!)/Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did? (Yeah yeah!)/Try ‘cid and get f_____ up worse that my life is?(Huh?)/My brain’s dead weight, I’m tryin to get my head straight but I can’t figure out which Spice Girl I want to impregnate (Ummmm..)/And Dr. Dre said, “Slim Shady you a basehead!”/”So why’s your face red? Man you wasted!”/Well since age twelve, I’ve felt like I’m someone else/Cause I hung my original self from the top bunk with a belt/Got pissed off and ripped Pamela Lee’s t___ off/And smacked her so hard I knocked her clothes backwards like Kris Kross/I smoke a fat pound of grass and fall on my a__ faster than a fat b____ who sat down too fast/C’mere slut! (Shady, wait a minute, that’s my girl dog!) I don’t give a f___, God sent me to piss the world off!
My English teacher wanted to flunk me in junior high/Thanks a lot, next semester I’ll be thirty-five/I smacked him in his face with an eraser, chased him with a stapler and stapled his nuts to a stack of papers (Owwwwwwww!)/Walked in the strip club, had my jacket zipped up/Flashed the bartender, then stuck my d___ in the tip cup/Extraterrestrial, runnin over pedestrians in a spaceship while they screamin at me: “LET’S JUST BE FRIENDS!”/Ninety-nine percent of my life I was lied to I just found out my mom does more dope than I do (Damn!)/I told her I’d grow up to be a famous rapper Make a record about doin drugs and name it after her (Oh thank you!)/ You know you blew up when the women rush your stands and try to touch your hands like some screamin Usher fans (Aaahhhhhh!)/This guy at White Castle asked for my autograph (Dude, can I get your autograph?)/So I signed it: ‘Dear Dave, thanks for the support, A__HOLE!’
Stop the tape! This kid needs to be locked away! (Get him!)/Dr. Dre, don’t just stand there, OPERATE!/ I’m not ready to leave, it’s too scary to die (F___ that!)/I’ll have to be carried inside the cemetery and buried alive (Huh yup!)/Am I comin or goin? I can barely decide I just drank a fifth of vodka—dare me to drive? (Go ahead)/All my life I was very deprived I ain’t had a woman in years, and my palms are too hairy to hide (Whoops!)/Clothes ripped like the Incredible Hulk (hachhh-too)/I spit when I talk, I’ll f___ anything that walks (C’mere)/When I was little I used to get so hungry I would throw fits/how you gonna breast feed me mom? You ain’t got no t___ (WAHHH!)/I lay awake and strap myself in the bed/ Put a bulletproof vest on and shoot myself in the head (BANG!)/I’m steamin mad (Arrrggghhh!)/And by the way when you see my dad? (Yeah?)/Tell him that I slit his throat, in this dream I had.
The real Slim Shady
May I have your attention please?/May I have your attention please?/Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?/I repeat, will the real Slim Shady please stand up?/ We’re gonna have a problem here/
Y’all act like you never seen a white person before/Jaws all on the floor like Pam, like Tommy just burst in the door/And started whoopin her ass worse than before they first were divorced/Throwin her over furniture (Ahh!)/It’s the return of the/”Ah, wait, no way, you’re kidding, he didn’t just say what I think he did, did he?”/And Dr. Dre said… nothing you idiots!/ Dr. Dre’s dead, he’s locked in my basement! (Ha-ha!)/Feminist women love Eminem/”Slim Shady, I’m sick of him/Look at him, walkin around grabbin his you-know-what/Flippin the you-know-who”/”Yeah, but he’s so cute though!”/Yeah, I probably got a couple of screws up in my head loose/But no worse than what’s goin on in your parents’ bedrooms/Sometimes, I wanna get on TV and just let loose but can’t/But it’s cool for Tom Green to hump a dead moose “My bum is on your lips, my bum is on your lips”/And if I’m lucky, you might just give it a little kiss/And that’s the message that we deliver to little kids/And expect them not to know what a woman’s clitoris is/Of course they gonna know what intercourse is/By the time they hit fourth grade they got the Discovery Channel don’t they?/”We ain’t nothing but mammals..”/Well, some of us cannibals who cut other people open like cantaloupes/But if we can hump dead animals and antelopes then there’s no reason that a man and another man can’t elope/But if you feel like I feel/ I got the antidote/Women wave your pantyhose/Sing the chorus and it goes
I’m Slim Shady/Yes I’m the real Shady/All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating/So won’t the real Slim Shady please stand up/Please stand up, please stand up?
Will Smith don’t gotta cuss in his raps to sell his records/Well I do so f___ him and f___ you too/ You think I give a damn about a Grammy?/Half of you critics can’t even stomach me let alone stand me/”But Slim, what if you win, wouldn’t it be weird?”/ Why? So you guys could just lie to get me here?/So you can, sit me here next to Britney Spears?/S___, Christina Aguilera better switch me chairs so I can sit next to Carson Daly and Fred Durst and hear ‘em argue over who she gave head to first/You little b____, put me on blast on MTV/”Yeah, he’s cute, but I think he’s married to Kim, hee-hee!”/I should download her audio on MP3 and show the whole world how you gave Eminem VD/I’m sick of you little girl and boy groups? All you do is annoy me so I have been sent here to destroy you/And there’s a million of us just like me who cuss like me/Who just don’t give a f____ like me/Who dress like me/Walk talk and act like me/And just might be the next best thing but not quite me!
I’m like a head trip to listen to/Cause I’m only givin you things you joke about with your friends inside your living room/The only difference is I got the balls to say it in front of y’all and I don’t gotta be false or sugarcoated at all/I just get on the mic and spit it and whether you like to admit it/I just s___ it better than ninety percent of you rappers out can/Then you wonder how can kids eat up these albums like valiums/It’s funny cause at the rate I’m goin when I’m thirty I’ll be the only person in the nursin home flirting/Pinchin nurses a____ when I’m j_____ off with Jergens/ And I’m j____ but this whole bag of Viagra isn’t working/And every single person is a Slim Shady lurkin/He could be workin at Burger King/Spittin on your onion rings/Or in the parkin lot circling/Screaming “I don’t give a f___!” with his windows down and his system up/
So, will the real Shady please stand up?/And put one of those fingers on each hand up?/And be proud to be outta your mind and outta control and one more time, loud as you can, how does it go?/ . . . Ha ha/Guess there’s a Slim Shady in all of us/F___ it, let’s all stand up.
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