The Best White Rapper 

Embracing Your Inner Slim Shady

EMINEM IS THE BEST white rapper there is, because he doesn't try to sound black. Lil' Kim can rhyme "of course" with "Christian Lacroix" ("of cawz" and "la-crawz") by dragging her vowels until they're flat as pancakes--without sounding like a fool--but when the Beastie Boys roll out their suspiciously deep Noo Yawk accents (even though they've lived in SoCal for about 10 years), it can get a little embarrassing.

But Eminem rhymes like a white boy...who can rhyme. He's the first one to do that. And the contrast between Dr. Dre's full, round, lazy bass beats and Em's buzzy, frenetic mosquito delivery makes radio hits like nobody's business. The Marshall Mathers LP would be full of radio hits if only it wasn't so motherfucking full of words you can't say on the radio.

The songs about himself, like "The Way I Am," "The Real Slim Shady," "Remember Me?" "I'm Back," and "Marshall Mathers," are where he excels. It's Eminem's saving grace that he can't see past the end of his own nose; he may not be worldly, but he's utterly without pretense. He's effortlessly controversial because his rhymes are pure, unadulterated id, and in our culture of over-explanation, no one seems to notice that his songs are fantasies. "Kim," a disturbingly specific song about killing a cheating girlfriend, is really sick, especially when you realize that Kim is a real person, the mother of Em's child and also his wife. One can imagine him playing the track for her and the two of them having a good laugh...a nervous laugh. Sick as his shit may be, it's still, somehow, universal.

And when it gets too sick, remember: You can't take him seriously, because he'll say anything for a rhyme, including dissing the hand that feeds him: "And Dr. Dre said? Nothing, you idiots! Dr. Dre's dead! He's locked in my basement!"

Nor is Eminem one to smile and make nice, to put it mildly. He's a brilliant satirist when he chooses deserving targets, especially the way he calls out his TRL peers: slutty Christina Aguilera, goody-goody Britney, the (admit it) homoerotic undertones of the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync.

We all think it; Eminem says it.

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