Marshall Mathers, Mr. Eminem, just released Relapse, his first new album since 2004's Encore. Considering his track record, we fully expect that this album will not escape controversy. After all, while last we checked "controversy" wasn't his middle name, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that he might decide to add it. Elvis Costello once added the name "Aloysius" for no apparent reason.
Here are 10 moments in song when Eminem took on personas and interests that might not be considered particularly wholesome by the world at large. They're not for everyone and if you play some of them too loud and the government hears you, there's a chance you might have some explaining to do. That's why I never play this music in the car. I stick with Air Supply and the soothing sounds of Mellow Rock. You look like a dork at traffic lights, but you rarely get arrested.
10) "Stan"--Looks Into The Mind Of A Deranged Eminem Fan: Here, Mr. Mathers looks at how his literary career might inadvertently cause his fan club to do some of the things he's brought up in his songs. A bit like the worry that MTV has faced with the show Jackass where young impressionable untrained psychopathic viewers think it's a swell idea to try the stunts they see. Eminem's music needs to come with extensive disclaimers just to qualify for liability insurance. Proof that killing yourself and your pregnant girlfriend is rarely the answer to life's tough questions.
9) "Guilty Conscience"--Dr. Dre And Eminem Discuss The Merits Of Violence: I guess in some circles this is what's considered "starting a dialogue" and to be fair, Dre and Em do discuss the merits of what to do before Dre finally figures "What am I sayin? Shoot em both Grady, where's your gun at?" and two shots are fired. Philosophers will spend eternity debating the rational and the irrational mind. But Dre and Eminem are unlikely to mistaken for Carl Jung and Emmanuel Kant anytime soon.
8) "97 Bonnie And Clyde"--Disposes Of The Body Of His Wife: Sometimes you wonder if Marshall Mathers really understands the difference between politeness and psychopathic violence. "Da-da made a nice bed for mommy at the bottom of the lake." Admittedly, sometimes it's the thought that counts, but sometimes you need to take a better look at the thought.
7) "My Name Is"--Eminem's Mother Sues For Slander: He can't figure out which Spice Girl he wants to impregnate and his male English teacher from Junior High wants to have sex with him but it's his mom who sues him for alleged slander for the line "I just found out my mom does more dope than I do." Maybe one of them uses the metric system?
6) "Kim"--The Trials And Tribulations Of Being Eminem's Wife: Kimberley Anne Scott met Mr. Mathers in high school and while married in 2000 attempted suicide and sued the rapper for defamation after he killed her off in his song "Kim," a much different approach to the "tribute to your wife" genre that the band Kiss once pulled off with the more sympathetic "Beth."
5) "Mosh"--George W. Bush, A Not So Beloved Elected Leader: "Look in his eyes it's all lies / The stars and stripes, they've been swiped, washed out and wiped" and he tells us to, well, screw Bush in harsher terms. Partisan rap? Makes you wonder what he thought of Dick Cheney. Surely, Dick rhymes with lots of cool stuff.
"And I don't mean rap as in a new case of child molestation accusation"
"That's not a stab at Michael / That's just a metaphor, I'm just psycho"
Thanks for the clarification, Em. Do lawyers need to read this stuff first or what?
3) "Without Me"--Lynne Cheney, Limp Bizkit, Moby: The then Vice-President's wife, the young men of Limp Bizkit and Vegan-styled electronica artist Moby receive the ire along with people who think Eminem is the new Elvis Presley ripping off black culture for the cash.
It's not exactly Shakespeare, but it gets your attention.
"And Moby? You can get stomped by Obie /You thirty-six year old baldheaded f**, b**w me"
2) "The Real Slim Shady"--Christina Aguilera And The Boy And Girl Bands That Are Clearly Not Hip-Hop: Not really sure how he gets away with it, but he decides that Fred Durst and Carson Daly can argue over who got oral sex from Christina Aguilera first, while EM himself claims to have contracted VD from listening to one of her MP3s. I know technology can do some amazing things, but this is the first I've heard of this one. I'm starting to think he's making stuff up.
1) "We As Americans"--George W. Bush: You can see why the Secret Service might be paying a visit to your home, rehearsal space, recording studio and your van. The song ended up on a bonus CD and not on the proper album Encore. It doesn't seem Eminem was ever a fan of diplomacy.
"F*** money / I don't rap for dead presidents / I'd rather see the president dead / It's never been said / But I set precedents and the standards"
Well, you certainly set something. Overthrowing the government doesn't win a lot of friends or influence the people you may need the help of when the crowd decides to storm the stage. Eminem might want to consider singing a few love songs once in awhile, just for his personal safety.