Eminem and Rap, Poetry, Race: Essays

Eminem and Rap, Poetry, Race: Essays

Scott F. Parker

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0786476753

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Eminem is the best-selling musical artist of the 21st century. He is also one of the most contentious and most complex artists of our time. His verbal dexterity ranks him among the greatest technical rappers ever. The content of his songs combines the grotesque and the comical with the sincere and the profound, all told through the sophisticated layering of multiple personae. However one finally assesses his contribution to popular culture, there's no denying his central place in it. This collection of essays gives his work the critical attention it has long deserved. Drawing from history, philosophy, sociology, musicology, and other fields, the writers gathered here consider Eminem's place in Hip Hop, the intellectual underpinnings of his work, and the roles of race, gender and privilege in his career, among various other topics. This original treatment will be appreciated by Eminem fans and cultural scholars alike.



















or aesthetic deficiencies heard in the strictly musical aspects of rap by some commentators can actually turn out to be some of its greatest strengths. The Phrase in Rap Music The building block of rap as pure music is the phrase. The term phrase refers to many different things in music, but here it will refer to a closed grammatical structure. This closed grammatical structure is most often a sentence. For instance, the first line of Eminem’s “My Name Is,” when he asks young children what their

audio the well-planned shape of the melodic contour is easier to trace.26 The logic of Eminem’s melodic contours are now more obvious: just as the phrases of an entire melody with definite pitch have certain recognizable contours—an arch, a downward motion, an upward motion—so do Eminem’s, according to the start and end of his own phrases. This description of the creation and release of tension has been used for centuries to assess traditional melodies, like America’s national anthem or the “Happy

another rapper to perform— clearly exists in the genre. But when this exchange of musical information occurs, it is done in real time. The ghostwriter raps in front of the ghostwriter, and the latter then simply imitates the ghostwriter’s voice on their own. 14. Dr. Dre’s “Some L.A. Niggaz,” from 1999, is a noticeable exception to this. Rappers Time Bomb, Hittman, Xzibit, Defari, and King Tee all imitate the beat’s jarring lack of an impetus on the strongest beat 3—endemic to almost all popular

the strategy works for Eminem. His first three albums are an introduction of sorts and are appropriately titled The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and The Eminem Show, released in 1999, 2000, and 2002, respectively. Eminem unleashed Slim Shady with the popular single “My Name Is.” In it he describes figuratively hanging himself in his youth and starting to become someone else. The person that walks away from that hanging is Slim Shady, who insults his fans and his mother, dreams of killing

does not “act black,” attempting to usurp an identity and social codes that the color of his skin does not allow. He never forgets that he is implacably white. He thus refuses to utter the word “nigger,” widely used by other rappers.47 Eminem’s unique talent is to recreate a chain of signifiers in the tradition of African American folklore in order to deliver on top of his demanding tone a series of topoi of his condition that are evocative in terms of the denigrations themselves as well as

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