Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 19: Eminem, "The Marshall Mathers EP"

Artist: Eminem
Year: 2000
Label: Interscope

There are a number of artists throughout the history of music that are so significant, that it is often hard to remember how music was "before" their arrival. Love them or hate them, their impact is so wide-reaching that they occupy the most elite space in the world of music legends. In 1999, the world was forever changed when Dr. Dre let his newest protege loose upon the masses. Since the arrival of Eminem, there have been countless imitators, but the reality is, nobody has come close to his skills, and he will forever be one of the most talented rappers ever. Though nearly ten years old, his 2000 release, The Marshall Mathers EP still stands as his finest release to date, as well as one of the best rap albums ever.

With a unique combination of dark comedy, social criticism, and outright anger, Eminem still stands as one of the most talented emcees ever. Creating an entire world within his albums, Eminem draws in the listener, and then leaves them to be verbally brutalized, whether they understand his lyrics or not. Often times accused of "going too far" with his rhymes, it is clear throughout The Marshall Mathers EP that Eminem TRULY doesn't care whether or not you understand (or even like) what he is saying. While many critics believed that the success of his debut record was only due to its vulgar content, Eminem uses his sophomore record to prove without question that he is one of the most gifted rappers in history.

Throughout The Marshall Mathers EP, it is clear that Dr. Dre is at the top of his game. While a majority of rap records at the time were already falling into the "too much bass" trap that still plagues the genre, Dre understands that Eminem's rhymes are the highlight, and he finds the perfect level of sound, though truth be told, the raps would work just as well with no music at all. The beats and sounds are some of the finest ever created as Dre perfectly balances his signature "G Funk" sound with sparse effects, leaving plenty of room for Eminem's brilliant vocals. Aside from the beats and music, Dre has an uncanny talent for knowing the perfect time to "keep" the studio chatter on songs, and many of Eminem's "side comments" are the perfect finishing touches to tracks. Dre brings in former protege Snoop Dogg, and the trio deliever nothing short of a "G Funk" classic with the track "Bitch Please II." The fact that Eminem fits in perfectly with these rap kings is a testament to both the diversity of his delivery, as well as his unquestionable talent as an emcee.

It's been said countless times already, but Eminem is undoubtedly one of the most talented rappers to ever grab a mic. Able to shift between multiple rapping styles and sounds, Eminem is able to deliver incredibly diverse moods and styles throughout The Marshall Mathers EP. His rhymes, running from hilarious to downright frightening, are always original and can rarely be ignored. While many of his rhymes are delivered with a healthy dose of sarcasm, the brilliant part of Eminem is how skillfully he hides mountains of truth in each verse he spits. He also proves to be one of the most fearless rappers ever, as he takes The Marshall Mathers EP to settle "beef" with everyone from the mass media to pseudo-rappers Insane Clown Posse to his own mother. Eminem holds nothing back, slamming nearly every "A List" pop group at the time, taking multiple opportunity to "dis" N'SYNC, Brittney Spears, as well as one of his all -time favorite targets, Christina Aguilera. Though each of these groups had their own dedicated fan base, somehow Eminem turned them into his own fans, even while destroying their idols. This sums up Eminem completely; the ability to make you love him while he shows all of the problems and shortcomings in your lifestyle and world views.

If nothing less, Eminem is a rapper who is extremely aware of his place in the rap world, as well as the true perception of him by others. Directly calling out all of the band-wagoners in the music media, Eminem blasts them off the planet, when he fearlessly shouts, "...half of you critics can't stomach me, let alone stand me..." The albums' lead single, "The Real Slim Shady" remains a landmark in the history of rap. The beats Dr. Dre created are some of the most catchy and radio friendly since his work with Snoop Dogg. The rhymes thrown by Eminem are, by far, some of the most self aware that have ever been heard on record. Eminem dispatches all of his imitators with the opening line (and chorus), "Will the REAL Slim Shady please stand up." Taking the rest of the song to call out the media and turning all of their "problems" with Eminem against themselves, Eminem shows his true talent as a rapper. Whether it is issues of the swearing on his records or the "lewdness" of his rhymes, Eminem skillfully shows the media that he is no worse than countless other parts of society. The only difference, he claims, is that he "has the balls to say it."

Dr. Dre can be seen as the driving force between the re-birth of rap music at the beginning of both the 1990's as well as 2000's. The number of amazing rappers that he has brought to the world makes him second to none when it comes to discovering "the next big thing" as well as knowing how to best present their skills. Dre outdid himself when he was able to convince the entire world to give a chance to a skinny, somewhat crazy, white kid who had some of the most original raps ever. Since he emerged in 1999, Eminem has been one of the driving forces in music, aggravating conservatives and critics with his worldwide success, despite his often crude, yet brutally honest lyrics. From shouted, angry lyrics, to hilarious, yet equally deft rhymes, Eminem remains second to none in the rap world. Each of his records are worth owning, but his 2000 release, The Marshall Mathers EP is an absolute rap classic, and will forever be a landmark within the rap genre, as well as the overall history of music.

Standout tracks: "What I Am," "The Real Slim Shady," and "Marhsall Mathers."

No comments: