The Slim Shady LP



January 16th, 2005 | 301 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

#273 on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums Of All Time.
#46 on Q's Top 100 Albums Of All Time

Eminem? Who's that? Recently voted the most powerful man in music by Q magazine, and the biggest and brightest star of our age - he will probably turn out to be the most durable, too - few people in the past few years have been as ubiqitous as Eminem. Although it was The Marshall Mathers LP that really made him the massive star he is now, this album, as his major label debut, set the ball rolling.

As an introduction, it's hard to beat. Many people were drawn in by the cartoon version of Marshall Mathers (Slim Shady, if you will) presented on Slim Shady and Guilty Conscience - a crazy, over-the-top, surrealist view of trailer park White America. The other major single - Role Model - helped this view along.

But those who bought the album expecting a full album of this character were going to be shocked. Sure enough, this is called The Slim Shady LP for a reason (just as the next two had their names for a reason), and the Slim Shady character was always lurking around a corner. But his role proved to be a backseat one, comparable to Flava Flav's role in Public Enemy. If you're not familiar with Public Enemy, then basically, this means that the core message of the music is wrapped up in surrealist humour, which makes it both easier to digest and easier to listen to. Eminem had a message with this album, but he knew people would have to be convinced to listen to it. Thus, the Slim Shady persona.

(Given how much Public Enemy hated Elvis for appropriating black music, there's a delicious irony here.)

The message Eminem had was one directed at America's poor white youth. Rap had long soundtracked America's black youth, with songs about the poverty they face, the discrimination within the system, and the hedonistic lives they wished to lead. Eminem took the same principle, and applied it to white youth. After all, black people weren't the only ones living empoverished lives, and Eminem realised this.

A lot of the white youth Eminem was talking to, though, buried their dreams and frustrations in rock music - a genre about as explicity 'white' as rap was explicity 'black'. Eminem realised this. Hell, why else do you think the second line you hear on this album was 'You wanna see me put Nine Inch Nails through each one of my eyelids?' If you've got the uncensored version, you get there even earlier. 'Hey kids....do you like Primus?' This almost constitutes a theme to the album. Eminem himself confesses a debt to rock bands that he listened to while growing up - Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Nirvana are three he specifically names. Of course, he comes from the same state as two of those acts. Whether Eminem is also left-handed is a question I can't answer. Throughout the album, he namedrops Cobain, the Beastie Boys, Kid Rock, and Vanilla Ice (directing adressing the unflattering comparisons he knew he would face). The album is pretty grungy in places tooc - Rock Bottom and If I Had bearing the most pronounced influence.

Although you could argue that generally, white youths don't have as many problems as black youths (due to the racism they face), Eminem had a hell of a lot to vent. His hatred for authority figures - at least on this album - went not to the president, or to the media, but to targets closer to home; namely, his mother (who allegedly abused his brother), and his girlfriend (who tried to stop him seeing their daughter). Bill and Hilary Clinton do get attacked on Role Model, but they were secondary targets. As such, Eminem's music began to strike a chord with not only the poor white youth he aimed at, but your average, frustrated teenager who hated their parents. It may sound a little juvenile, but it meant something to people. And, of course, his skills as a lyricist, his knack for a good song, and his sense of humour endeared him to the rest of us.

It didn't exactly endear him to the media, though. Some of his peers attacked him for being a gimmick, and compared him to Vanilla Ice and Marky Mark. It seemed only Dr. Dre's involvement (and a fierce underground reputation) prevented him being laughed out of the industry before anyone heard the album. The mass media, though, seeing how popular Eminem was becoming with Middle America's teenagers, slammed him for glorifying violence and encouraging crime. It's a criticism that has stuck with Eminem, and an unfair one - knowing Eminem as most people do now, thanks to exposure from the same mass media, it's not too hard to tell what's truth and when he's joking, and anyone who can't tell is [URL=http://maddox.xmission.com/hatemail.cgi#SUICIDE]Stupid.[/URL] It was mostly this criticism that would force Eminem to try to drop the Slim Shady persona altogether on The Marshall Mathers LP.

There are a few problems with this album. First of all, the balance between the message and the humour isn't as finely done as on Public Enemy's best work - in fact, most of the tracks could be seperated into one of two categories (Brian Damage stands out, though, as having the right balance). The skits are worthless, Lounge aside. The Slim Shady EP featured better versions of both '97 Bonnie & Clyde (then called Just The Two Of Us) and Just Don't Give A ****. The version of Guilty Conscience here doesn't have the chorus from the single version, which is a travesty. And you ocasionally get the feeling that Eminem is resorting to shock tactics rather than letting his natural ability shine through. And, of course, the flaw all Eminem's albums have - not enough quality control. You could remove a couple of tracks, and it would improve the whole.

Still, this is a quality album. Picking a best Eminem album is difficult, as all of them excel in different areas. This album is the one you want if you're after surreal humour and introspection, whereas the Marshall Mathers LP is the most intense and personal, yet outward looking, of the three, and The Eminem Show undoubtedly features the best lyrics from a poetic/emcees perspective. It really comes down to what you're after; I personally find this to be on a par with The Eminem Show, but The Marshall Mathers LP is on another level altogether. There are personal moments here that, for pure emotion, rival or better Marshall Mathers - If I Had being the most obvious choice, while Brian Damage has a bruised heart to it. But they are less hard-hitting then The Marshall Mathers LP's best moments, and are ultimately more forgettable. But The Slim Shady LP remains a great debut, a singpost of what was to come, and a highly recommended addition to any rap fan's collection.

Recommended Download -
I'd say Brain Damage represents the album best. If you're after an explicitly personal song, then you'll want If I Had, whereas the humourous side can be found on As The World Turns, but Brain Damage has both sides of the story within it.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
September 6th 2004


Great review.

September 6th 2004


Good review, though I think I'm probably looking at the album from a different perspective to what you've taken. I haven't had a difficult life at all, so I never identified with the album, or anything like that. I listened to it (note, listened; my copies of both this and the Marshall Mathers LP have been missing for months now ) because I really liked his lyrics, and his style of rapping them, rather than any message it had.

Still, I agree with 4/5; there are a few songs that could simply be cut from the record without any disagreement.

September 6th 2004


Iai....do you ever stop reviewing albums? :lol:. Another very good review though, and while this isn't a great album, it's still a very good one. "My Name Is" in particular is one of my favourite rap songs, and as a statement of intent, I think it stands up particularly well also.

September 6th 2004


Album Rating: 4.5

Great review.

I would say 'Bad and Evil' and 'Rock bottom' and 'Guilty conscience' are excellent tracks on this album.

In fact, this whole album is catchy, funny and powerful.

Good album.

September 6th 2004


Album Rating: 4.5

I like this way more than any of his other albums.

Because it's hilarious.

September 6th 2004


Album Rating: 4.5

[QUOTE=Iai]It annoys me that the version of Guilty Conscience ofn here doesn't have the chorus, and features a worse narrator. It's still a great track, just less of one. Oh well, the Bonus CD-Rom has the video, with the better version.

Bad And Evil is one of Eminem's more overlooked tracks, totally.[/QUOTE]

Ah, it's been so long that I've seen the video that I can't really tell the difference anymore.

September 13th 2004


Yep, was just waiting for him to get banned (evidence and all that).

September 13th 2004


5/5 for this album. It's hilarious, the lyrics are amazingly well thought out. And the music isn't bad at all.. I wish I still had my copy of this..
I really hate other eminem albums, because they all lack the humour in this one.

June 13th 2005


this album is suprisingly good my favorites are rock bottom and I just don't give a **** great intro

June 17th 2005


He is a rather good rapper, but I really can't stand how he phrases things and the flow of his rapping.

June 18th 2005


I think it's a breed of tiger.

August 7th 2005


Album Rating: 1.5

I don't like this album.

August 7th 2005


[quote=Grateful Dead]I wiger is the crossbreed of a tiger and a walnut. It's pretty much my favourite animal.[/quote]
It's bred for its skills in magic.

August 23rd 2005


My Name Is is pretty funny. I have to admit, old Eminem is fun to listen to. Because it's quite humorous.

August 23rd 2005


I seem to be the only one who likes this better than The Marshall Matters LP. As an EP this album would've been 5/5 (not as it was on The Slim Shady EP tho, that one was about as good as this one) but there's some filler here and there (especially Cum On Everybody).

September 3rd 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Far better than his second album. I don't listen to much rap, but I love this album!

Good review!

Dried Muffin Remnants
January 23rd 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

He's obviously very talented. I dislike where he went with his music, but this album was very good. The man's delivery is impeccable.

March 8th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent album. Although, like on all his other albums, I dislike his parody/gimmick songs. His serious side is where it's at. For instance, If I Had is my favourite of all Eminem tracks. It's the song of a man with absolutely nothing going for him. Rock Bottom get to me in the same way. Top stuff.

March 11th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

This album is a 4.5 for me.

Very nice, But needs a tad more maturity to be a classic.

March 23rd 2006


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

this was the only eminem album i liked, which is because I really prefer his raps when he takes on his alter ego Slim Shady. Great review too!

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