Review Summary: In 'The Slim Shady LP' Eminem finds an exceptional balance between mania, darkness and comedy. He's a weirdo, but a clever weirdo.
‘The Slim Shady LP’ is strange. Through awkwardness and psychedelic mania, Eminem creates a masterpiece. (Actually, it’s sort of interesting in the Philosophy of Aesthetics!) He unifies humor and menace exceptionally; we’re uncomfortable, but in a good way.
What’s so good here is that Eminem’s authentic. I like Tyler, the Creator, I really do, but he’s always felt like a less genuine Slim Shady. Both tell ***ed up stories and both are fictitious – the majority of ‘The Slim Shady LP’ is Eminem portraying his Slim Shady alter-ego. I don’t like sounding as if I’m glad Eminem struggled, but his music is better because of it. He’s a weirdo shaped by trauma: an addict and, before his studio albums, a manic-depressive. Talk about re-channeling – he’s converted this wounding into an illuminative voice.
Eminem’s rapping is brilliant. Intricate rhyme schemes reflect his frantic persona. ‘Role Model’ is a personal favorite – it’s packed with outrageous punches that mask a sinister subject matter. Slim uses his erratic and excited flows to build an atmosphere that’s uneasy, but funny.
“I’m not a playa, Just an ill rhyme-say-a, That’ll spray-a aerosol can up at the O-zone layer.”
‘The Slim Shady LP’ is menacing, offensive and intelligent, and Dre and the Bass Brothers do an outstanding job of reflecting this in the production. Having said this, there are crucial interjections of comedy – Eminem’s a self-proclaimed wiseass. This is a wicked mix. Honestly, some of it’s laugh-out-loud funny and it’s not the juvenile ephemera about on ‘Recovery’; skillful storytelling is designed as the backdrop for hilarious ravings, I’m thinking of ‘My Fault’:
“Dave! Pull up ya pants! We need an ambulance! There’s a girl upstairs talking to plants!”
What’s more, Em’s voice is ideal. His weedy, high-pitched awkwardness gives him his presence, and this allows him to pull off threatening moments ably. He’s a victim – in his own words, a “scrawny looking white boy”, but this gives him a peculiar unpredictability. He warps his discomfited style into Eminem mega-hooks; ultra catchy sing-songs that heighten the mania. I mean, Slim’s a devilish character, epitomized on ‘Guilty Conscience’: he’s the ultimate bad influence and his abuse of responsibility made headlines. But freaky as he is, we find ourselves siding with this bad guy: Em’s a lovable rebel and idol to all defiant and self-conflicted teens.
The album’s not perfect. It’s too intensely introspective in places – ‘Brain Damaged’ is an awesome song, but his droning goes a bit OTT. Despite this, ‘The Slim Shady LP’ remains a classic: Eminem had a lot to say, and he said it well.