To grant this album a title any less than 'masterpiece' would be a shame to hip hop and its many fans. The lyrics express raw emotion, the beats are almost comical rap and the mood is deep and aggressive. Yet that is not the reason why this album should be given recognition.
True, Eminem wrote this album while his mind was spinning circles around a creation he had created while in the washroom of a broken down flat - Slim Shady. Slim would take over Eminem like Hyde over his creator. Slim Shady extracted from Eminem, born Marshall Mathers III, the tough, fatherless past he had lived through. Slim expressed the past of a white boy living in Detroit, who's so into rap he walks miles just to get to his friends house, who had a tape recorder. Yet Slim's representation wasn't the most politically correct. Shady shunned everything from women, "gave a girl herpes in exchange for syphilis", to gay males, in an amusing skit where Ken Kaniff is trying to hit on him. But it wasn't the writing that was revolutionary. The writing was breathtaking and skillful, but what made this record special was what it accomplished.
First of all, this LP bought rap back from the hollows of a money hungry, flashy and absent substance limelight, to the raw and gritty sound that had started it all. When rap was introduced in the late eighties, it was all about truth. To say it in rap meant preaching the truth. Eminem's lyrics were true to his life. And he spoke of them in a tone so real, it was like you were watching his biography through a fine tooth comb. This truth was so opposite from mainstream rap at the time, people predicted the same fate about Eminem as they did when the Beatles first raised hairs over on the American airwaves. They called him a 'fad', who wouldn't last too long. However, Eminem looked straight at mainstream rap, and turned around. Songs like "Rock Bottom", "Just Don't Give a F***", "Guilty Conscience" and "97 Bonnie and Clyde" were different from mainstream rap. Eminem suddenly became a voice of truth than people could connect to.
And people did connect. Eminem would later predict that he had "created an army of angry, white boys." Oh, and he had. With the release of the Slim Shady LP, Eminem had found the niche that was well hidden beneath the splendor of rap music. The niche consisted of rebellious young teens, who couldn't rap along with big money rap. So they expressed their anger through this disk. This album became a cornerstone for young teens everywhere, just like Eminem himself, growing up without fathers and mothers, living their lives in poverty. The album became sweet release. Eminem took words and melodies to a whole new level, a level perhaps so high, that only the likes of Lennon or Dylan could take it.
Eminem's Slim Shady LP goes past rap. It's not a rap record. It represents the frustrations of a grown man who's had a tired past, and suddenly has an idea that he'd love to pass his thought along. It sounds ironically peaceful, doesn't it? If it wasn't ironic, it was real. Eminem, through Slim Shady, speaks lyrics that represented his life, and the lives on millions of others, as if he had researched each one. Every new syllable hit by his raspy voice is like a sharp dagger through the heart of mainstream rap. Suddenly, young teens everywhere had found a reason to like music again. Like Rowling did with Potter, Eminem did with music. He turned kids on to rap. And this album was the perfect way to introduce a man with such character and charisma.
If you want the down low on the tracks, they're sort of glued together, and hard to pick apart. But I'll do my best. The album is kind of like vodka-flavored gin, because it starts of good, and as you keep listening to it, you feel more and more under it's spell.
Starting with a "Public Service Announcement", Eminem brings out his funny wit. That leads to the first single, "My Name Is", a clever jab at everyone from Marilyn Manson (who he's actually friends with) to Clinton. Funny, rude and ludicrous, it's a track that signifies Eminem’s difference from the rest of the rap cannon.
From that the album moves to “Guilty Conscience". Eminem’s witty charm is answered this time by his mentor and producer Dr. Dre, and the duo work in more harmony than the member of Led Zeppelin during recording sessions for IV. The doctor brings pure chemistry, baby.
“Brain Damage" shows Eminem’s ability to rapidly tell a story. This time, he tells the story of how he used to get beat up in high school. In true Rap Boy fashion (a character he’ll bring to life in 2002’s The Eminem Show), a young Marshall Mathers kicks the *** out of an old bully. This is followed by “If I Had". Retrospectively delicious, this track takes Eminem’s lyrics to wordsmith totality.
“97 Bonnie and Clyde" is disturbing. Eminem is apologizing to his three year old daughter for “throwing mommy off a cliff". It’s an intro to his sophomore’s “Kim" – which is probably the sickliest inventive song Eminem has ever created. (Don’t worry; I’m counting “Stan" in this too)
“Role Model" shows Eminem starting to pick fights with the active groups that blame him. He would later take that fight to a rumble on TMMLP. “My Fault" shows Eminem trying to rescue a girl who he’s “accidentally killed", and “Cum On Everybody" has him trying to spit a party rap tune.
“Rock Bottom" and “Just Don’t Give a ***" are the strongest tracks on this record. (“Rock Bottom" isn’t even a single. No filler on this shiznet, baby.) Both tunes see Eminem rapping like he did in the days of Infinite and The Slim Shady EP. Hot lyrics, mind bending wordsmith phrases and a sense of humor unmatched by any artist are thrown into each track.
“As the World Turns" is hilarious. “They threw me out the Ramada Inn / I said it wasn't me, I got a twin (Oh my god its you! Not again!)" The tongue keeps twisting in “I’m Shady" and “Bad Meets Evil". On the latter, Em’s pared with now rival Royce Da 5"9. They both match each others twisters.
EM: I used to be a loudmouth. Remember me?
59: Uh huh
EM: We’ll I’m out now. Ready to burn your house down.
And then they’re “Still Don’t Give A ***". It’s like Eminem has held the microphone cord tightly, and he’s finally let it loose for the grand finally. The lyrics show him looking at his past life in retro cool lyrics that bounce of the walls.
Please, please check this album out. It’s not asking for a play – but music deserves it that you give it a spin.
Ch - Check These Out Too
Any Big-L Disk
The Beastie Boys - Sold Gold Hits
Any Outkast Disk
Dr. Dre - The Chronic (Both editions)
Curtain Call - The Hits