“So, what you’re saying is that you don’t think it’s right that Benzino and the Source are calling Eminem Elvis?”
“No, it’s like they’re using the pro-Black agenda superficially to garner the respect of the hip-hop community, and it’s gonna backfire because everyone knows it’s not true. It’s just personal BS from the Source ownership.”
Since the battle between Ja Rule / Murder Inc. / Source vs. 50 Cent / Aftermath / XXL boiled, I’ve had plenty of discussions about Eminem as a pivotal figure in hip-hop history. Almost every one of my friends agrees that they were on 50 Cent’s side, and that’s evident from the rise of the latter contingent and the precipitous fall of the former. For many, the attacks on Eminem were the last draw since, for many, bringing up the race issue when Em fought so hard to be included within the pantheon of furious rhymers were unjustified. Even after the tape with a younger Eminem rapping about the “nigger”tude of his ex-girlfriend, rap audiences forgave him and supported his records, no matter how drug-induced.
With Eminem, I’ve always appreciated his rhyme skills, his comical, zany, and vicious approach to lyricism, technically adept, and accurately syncopated rhythms. I’ve bought almost all of his albums, each with its own flavor of ingredients specific to Eminem. And yet, I have a sneaky feeling every time I hear him murdering his wife or vowing to tear some woman’s insides out. It’s the same nagging feeling I get every time somebody decides to make an anti-gay speech when they see a lesbian couple, or when a teacher calls one of our students animals. And it’s the feeling that I have a hard time shaking.
I contemplate it overnight, and try to understand the feeling in my gut. Is it because I know Eminem, who has explicitly said kids shouldn’t be listening to his stuff because it’s so graphic, still has a presence with impressionable youngsters all over, like many of his contemporaries do? Is it because, unlike many rappers, his off-the-mic life is a rather accurate reflection of his mental state on the mic? \
Or is it because, as a consumer of his product, I’m implicitly supporting the message on the record?
Can I make it clear that I don’t support the misogyny on his album but support the artistry when I’m buying the record? Can I see him as just like any other fiction writer in other art forms? Or is it because I’m a male that I am not as horrified by it all the way a woman might be? My honest answer is “I don’t know.” I feel as many others in the hip-hop community do that we do stand for consciousness and better opportunities for our communities but the province of our headphones, speakers, and dance floor is governed mainly by us.
That’s where I stand. Maybe when I’ll have kids, I’ll have to cut down on most of this as to set a better example for my child, but right now, I may indulge in more murder and mayhem. At least until I’m mature enough to have my music coincide with my beliefs.
Jose, who hopes God forgives him for what his pen do …