Every now and then a new artist comes along with so much talent that it simply just can’t be ignored. It happened back in 1997 when a new artist started to garner a lot of attention and rightfully so.
I took me a while to actually see that talent though. Like a lot of other listeners, I was caught up on what I considered to be inappropriate imagery.
However, if you looked past the subject matter of his songs, you couldn’t help but see the brilliance of his writing and his performance.
Yes, I am talking about Eminem.
English teachers, bloggers, and poets, people who would never consider themselves to be hip-hop fans, sing Eminem’s praises for what he can do with the English language. He can paint a vivid story and deliver it in such a novel way that his work really has no rival.
It took his song “Brain Damage” to get me to stand up and take notice. He can rap words that don’t even rhyme by focusing on the syllables and how they are pronounced. Some rappers try to do this but it is so obvious that they were trying. Eminem does it effortlessly and does so in a story rhyme that doesn’t call attention to the brilliant mechanics of how it was put together.
For example. Eminem rhymes “orange juice” which would be impressive enough since nothing really does rhyme with orange. However, he takes it even further by matching up every single syllable of that phrase and rhyming it repeatedly over a few seconds of time.
Not content with that, Eminem does the same thing with “chocolate milk.”
Here is the lyric
“Then I got up and ran to the janitor’s storage booth
Kicked the door hinge loose and ripped out the four inch screws
Grabbed some sharp objects, brooms, and foreign tools
‘This is for every time you took my orange juice,
or stole my seat in the lunchroom and drank my chocolate milk.
Every time you tipped my tray and it dropped and spilt.’”
Here are the slant rhymes
– storage booth – door hinge loose – four inch screws – foreign tools – orange juice
– chocolate milk – dropped and spilt
Wow! That is simply amazing.
Eminem’s first album was a huge success, both critically and commercially. He continued to release great albums with amazing wordplay but some people seemed to stop noticing his craft.
“You ain’t even impressed no more; you’re used to it.”
That’s what he said on “Business” off of the Eminem Show. He was completely right. He was still giving us some amazing rhymes and wordplay. I don’t think it’s even debatable that those first three albums are hip-hop classics.
I lost interest in what he did after those classic albums though. I wasn’t sure why either. He was doing the same thing he had always done. In fact, that is what had me writing him off. He hadn’t seemed to grow as an artist. It was the same old, same old and I wasn’t impressed anymore.
Encore had some great moments and his new material for Curtain Call was good as well. But his last disc was absolutely horrible. I hated Relapse and had almost completely written Eminem off. His long hiatus didn’t help matters in my mind either. I thought he was done.
And I then I heard Recovery.
What an amazing album. It’s almost like he had heard my thoughts from the past few years and he decided to address them all.
Eminem even admits that his last two albums weren’t up to snuff. He says, “The last two albums didn’t count…I’ve come to make it up to you… I finally feel like I’m back to normal… The new me is back to the old me”
So Eminem has recaptured what it is that makes his music great. I was actually blown away by this new album. Best thing I’ve heard from him in a long time. The album captured me from the opening few seconds and didn’t let me go. There are some great moments that made me laugh out loud, or cheer like I was in front of the stage marveling at what he was able to do with a lyric.
Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of this disc. It is a great tapestry of tracks that starts and ends perfectly. In fact, it’s the best hip-hop album I’ve heard in a while. The album came out last week so go to the record store or download store and support real hip-hop and good music. Peace!