The Marshall Mathers LP Album
The artist I choose to do my podcast on is Eminem, specifically his Marshall Mathers LP album. I choose to dissect this album because I remember growing up and just becoming a teenager when it came out and my fellow classmates talking about how deep the lyrics were in some of the songs. I remember people idolize Eminem for rapping about real life situations within himself and his family. He is known for saying what is on his mind and not putting on a front to satisfy anyone.
In 2000, The Marshall Mathers LP album came out, a project that earned commercial success, critical acclaim and a lot of controversy. This album came under a firestorm of criticism for its excessive profanity, offensive and disturbing lyrics, glorification of drugs and violence and its apparent homophobia and sexism. Despite its often-vile content, the project’s still making waves as one of the genre’s most significant efforts of the 2000s. Eminem basically “attacked” everyone on this album, and they all pretty much resented him for it.
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People protested outside the Grammys, boycotted his records, and tried to spread the word that Eminem was a horrible person. He was not trying to raise an army to think like him. We all listened to this album because it was honest, and it brought up points and ideas that we probably could not have come up with on our own. This album was a lesson in harsh reality, how to not live our lives and as a result, it has become one of the most important albums of this generation.
Growing up, Eminem had a difficult childhood, from his mother having him at 15 years old to growing up in a predominate black community in Detroit. They struggled financially and emotionally. His father wasn’t around, and his mother could barely keep a job which led them to constantly move around and made it difficult for him to keep any friends. He was beaten up in school for being an outcast, once so extreme he was in a coma for 5 days.
He failed academically which caused him to drop out at the age of 17. His relationship with his mother was always on the negative side. According to a few articles, his mother also left him at an early age, but shortly came back, which left Eminem to be raised by his grandmother. He claims she was constantly on drugs, though she denies it.
Eminem’s relationship with his girlfriend at the time was on and off. Eminem admits to being physically and emotionally abusive with her. Within the decades of being together, the pair have experienced the trials of poverty, the growth of Eminem’s career, personal and family tragedy, the birth of a daughter, drug addiction, separations, suicide attempts, and arrests.
Even though Eminem dropped out of school at an early age, he found a way to express his passion for language and to voice the anger he had from his upbringing which led to him to make rap and hip-hop music. Although at the time rap music was almost only produced by black people, Eminem, who is white, still entered the Detroit rap scene as a frequent competitor in rap battles. These are competitions where two rappers take turns insulting the other through improvised rap lyrics. He was determined to gain the listeners respect, and never missed a battle.
Shortly after he started, he was known not to be taken as a joke. His fierce rhymes and creative insults often left everyone surprised at his talent. Despite his race, he quickly became one of the most respected figures in Detroit’s underground rap scene. Within years later, Eminem released The Slim Shady EP, which was discovered by Dr. Dre, the legendary rapper and producer. Dre was so impressed by Eminem’s achievement of being runner-up of the 1997 Rap Olympics MC Battle, that he signed Eminem to his Interscope Records label.
Dr. Dre produced Eminem’ next album, Marshall Mathers LP which is known as one of his best albums yet with millions of copies sold in the first week. Most tracks on this album stems from a personal situation in Eminem’s life. He dissected a troubled childhood and unsteady relationship with his mother on songs like “Kill You.” This led to his mother attempting to sue him for 10 million dollars for defamation. He attacked his wife, at the time, on “Kim” which led to her attempted suicide. He addressed addiction on “Drug Ballad.”
Clearly, Eminem was dealing with personal demons in his own life and he was willing to share it all on the record. Eminem wasn’t just upset with his home life. He was also conflicted about fame. He used “Stan”, known as one of his greatest songs, to creatively vent about obsessive fans, while other tracks like “Who Knew” and “The Way I Am” showed how upset he was under the intrusive spotlight.
Listening back to tracks like “Criminal” and “I’m Back,” you can hear his talent as he packs incredible rhymes and poetic devices in raps without sacrificing his message to the listeners. “The Way I Am” is often justly seen as the best example of his extraordinary flow. He used the same rhythmic pattern for the whole song, finding the beat perfectly with each bar. But that’s just one example.
Eminem’s lyrics might be shocking, but they’re shocking in an offensive way. That’s why no matter how controversial his songs may be, none of them stands close when compared with the true terror that’s evoked by “Kim.” The entire track is a rant and a freak-out of Eminem yelling at her. This song is a mix of her pleading for help combined with his disturbing lyrics. “Come on, get out! (I can’t! I’m scared!) I said get out, bitch!
Fuck you! You did this to us! You did it! It’s your fault!” Eminem’s angered screaming is so authentic that you know he is showing us his most honest feelings. Probably the most immediately noticeable detail of the song is its psychotic tone. Eminem is both emotionally unstable and aggressive throughout the entire song, as the song portrays him murdering Kim. The track starts off with Eminem talking calmly to their daughter Hailie and it ends with Kim’s throat being slit and him putting her into the trunk of the car.
This was only the beginning of the traumatizing relationship between them. He insults her in many ways and the disturbing language is mind-blowing which remains common throughout the entire song. Within a few months of the album’s release, Eminem invited Kim to see him perform live, but he promised her he wouldn’t sing “Kim” live. However, things changed, and he decided to do it anyway. He broke that promise and while performing, he punched, kicked, and tore apart a blow-up doll that was supposed to represent Kim.
Thousands of people witnessed Eminem humiliating her on stage, and it got too much for her to handle. As a result of this song, Kim, his ex-wife, attempted suicide by slashing her wrists. That same year, Mathers was scheduled to perform in Toronto, but an Ontario Attorney General opened a case that the rapper not be allowed entry into Canada. Attorney General Jim Flaherty said: “I personally don’t want anyone coming to Canada who will come here and advocate violence against women.”
He went as far as to say that the rapper should be charged with hate crimes for advocating violence against women, as can be heard in his lyrics. The parties went back and forth trying to deny him entry into the state, but in Eminem’s favor, the Toronto concert went ahead as planned.
People who are huge fans of Eminem may debate that he is a genius for creating a song like “Kim” because he was being completely honest of who he is behind closed doors and he doesn’t care for the world’s opinion. Others will disagree with a song of this nature because of the disrespect to a woman and it degraded another human being which almost led to her death. Most of the time when you’re a dedicated fan to an artist, no matter what they do or say, you’ll support it. Eminem believed that verbal and physical abuse is acceptable in a relationship, specifically after his ex-girlfriend cheated on him. It was obvious they became miserable in the relationship but with a child involved, it’s not easy to leave.
In a harsh reality, abuse to women is very common throughout the world so this track made people idolize Eminem for allowing them to think it is okay because of the success he has. In the end, this song is basically venting and telling a fiction story about committing murder. He concluded this by saying he loves her and yet while he is going crazy, traumatizing and beating her, he can’t go on living in this world without her. However, because of the content of this track, people might have viewed Eminem differently. Kim is a person with feelings and emotions just like each of us.
No one will accept being humiliated the way she was. Their relationship is a private matter and shouldn’t have been exposed in that way. Kim is a daughter and mother and with this exposure, it will be beyond embarrassing for the rest of her life. For many years, women have been advocating for women empowerment because of examples like this. In an interview with Q magazine, Eminem said during the writing process of the song, he was heavily under the influence of a drug. It is obvious that is what led to the birth of the extremely shocking nature of the lyrics of the song.
Artists sometimes must be cautious about what they say or how they perceive things in their lyrics because it will be very influential on society. It is completely fine with having artistic freedom and expressing whatever you want. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Unfortunately, for those people that we look up to and influences us, they must pay close attention to the message they are sending out through music or art because it may impact listeners.
Whether the message is to uplift your attitude, get you in your feelings or amps up your animosity, it is all being influenced by the lyrics and tone of the song. Most of this album, Eminem is on a rant and reflecting on the bad situations he has overcame. This is what made this album very influential. Although some things I don’t agree with because of the disturbing lyrics or the message he is sending, his listeners will think that if Eminem can do this, why can’t I? On “Who Knew”, the rapper addresses criticism regarding glorification of violence in his lyrics, pointing out perceived hypocrisy in American society. In songs like “Drug Ballad” he promotes drug use and explains the feeling of being high.
“You are now allowed to officially slap bitches. You have the right to remain violent and start wildin’.” He raps about the euphoric feeling he has while under the influence of drugs, he has confidence and more courage than ever. Also, that he can’t do without certain drugs because it takes his mind places he’s never thought about while sober. “Cause every time I go to try to leave somethin’ keeps pullin’ on my sleeve I don’t want to but I gotta stay these drugs really gotta hold on me.” So yes, everyone has the right to freedom of speech but sometimes for an artist, what they put into their lyrics can influence us in the wrong way. People will now try those drugs Eminem is rapping about to feel what he feels but ends up getting addicted, possibly leading to death from it.
The music industry should be a little embarrassed for allowing the lyrics about killing your mother or raping your mother in “Kill You” contribute to being award winning. “Slut, you think I won’t choke no whore till the vocal cords don’t work in her throat no more?! These motherfuckers are thinking I’m playing.” Those who hold resentment against their parents because of their upbringing may think this okay but only if they don’t know this is just words out of anger and nothing physical. Society is easily influenced by celebrities because of the status of their success. Because of their wealth, they become our role models so what they promote should be good for us, right?
Eminem was able to build a cult at a time when white rappers weren’t popular. Think about that time Eminem became more upcoming, there was very little to no white rappers out. So, did being white work with him or was his lyrics what made him? I think that being white had an advantage in Eminem’ s growth to success. With the little exposure he had, he took it made one of the most controversial albums ever. Because hip-hop and rap was founded by the black community, it wasn’t likely for us to accept a white rapper easily. Eminem was able to work his way up the ladder and he hit a threshold of popularity of acceptance and immediate exposure. It is like being white became his superpower. Despite his skin color, he was able to connect to an audience that most rappers couldn’t connect to. His lyrics were his life story and it made his listeners realize that not everyone lives a great life they perceive to live.
Black communities all over the world enjoyed listening to his music, even famous rappers because of his skills; he was very much noticed. With most of the lyrics being about violence, drugs or disinterest in fame, Eminem was able to bypass issues with the law. Being a white male might have given him the advantage to this because at this time, white rappers at his Eminem’s level was not heard of. Unfortunately, it is not unusual to read about black rappers getting arrested for engaging in criminal activity, but what about getting arrested for pretending to be gangsters or having lyrics that compare to Eminem?
This has happened to an unsigned group from Jersey City, New Jersey, kind of. According to reports by All Hip Hop.com and NJ.com, nine members of a New Jersey Bloods gang, who also make up the hip-hop group DFG, were arrested for brandishing a gun while filming their music video. The video, which is for their first single called “MoneyCello,” was posted some time ago, but somehow it recently caught the attention of the Jersey City Street Crimes Unit who used the evidence to get an arrest warrant for the nine men. During the police raids, they found small amounts of drugs and other paraphernalia in their homes.
However, none of the reports specify if the actual guns used in the music video were found. Rappers, particularly those who rap about the streets, are easy prey because they are involved in a profession that requires them to portray violent images and typical male stereotypical behavior like physical strength and aggression. it really does seem like these law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are exploiting the general public’s, particularly White America’s, ignorance and dislike for hip-hop music to prosecute otherwise difficult cases.
One impact Eminem defiantly made was allowing his true fans to see him from struggle to success. He didn’t hide the harsh reality he had while growing up but instead he embraced it and turned success into it. People are influenced by him because he let them feel like you don’t have to hide who you are to fit in but to just keep trying to achieve your goals. Eminem made it clear he didn’t want the fame and constant spotlight, but he wanted to share his talent with us. I believe he taught his listeners that it is okay to be angry and instead of expressing it through violence, to express through words or art.