14
May 02

EMINEM — ‘Without Me’

FT + New York London Paris Munich2 comments • 1,618 views

EMINEM — ‘Without Me’

Granted, he’s not doing himself any favours with this ‘controversy’ nonsense. The c-word is best left to the tabloids and press packs; it always sounds mealy-mouthed coming from singers, though after his last album you can’t fault Eminem for truthfulness.

But ‘Without Me’ doesn’t sound controversial — ‘controversy’ for Eminem here works like ‘rock’ does for the Hives or ‘floral’ does on a perfume bottle, a handy label preserving a faint memory of meaning. Eminem compares himself to Elvis, but this is surely the film-star Elvis — knockabout fun with the odd verbal hipsway to remind us who we’re listening to. (Of course, Elvis without the films, an Elvis redeemed for rock, isn’t ELVIS, he’s just another rock star).

Meanwhile there’s the deliciously rigid robodisco beat — the Kraftwerk influence on hip-hop is terra entirely cognita, but Dre (or Em or whoever turned the knobs) becomes surely the first producer to be influenced by Kylie! Yes, there’s an obvious irony in the song’s best joke – ‘It’s over, nobody listened to techno’ – oh sure except the millions listening to this right now. But Eminem’s correct — techno didn’t have what it takes to be the sort of scavenging aggressor genre hip-hop is in America, and this track is proof-by-example.

So then — lazy rhymes, excellent rhythms? More grist to the mills of people who’d really like pop if it wasn’t for all those pesky pop stars getting in the way? Well, not quite. Let’s drop back a bit — ‘Eminem compares himself to Elvis’. But this is also a standard line-of-attack for Eminem haters — taking black music and making it safe and marketable for a white market. And Eminem’s response? It’s a fair cop, basically.

The Elvis thing is the ‘point’ of ‘Without Me’ — the kids are embarrassed their folks still listen to him, but along comes Eminem and after him 20 million other white rappers. The implication is that Eminem is a pop-history dividing line – after him there’s simply no point in white kids making or listening to music even remotely Elvis-ish any more. Meanwhile ‘Without Me’ is Eminem’s first even-glancingly direct uptake of the one thing he’s never commented on in his music: race. With titles like ‘White America’ on the new CD (I’ve not heard it yet), it’s surely premature to write the man off on the strength of one deceptively comfy single.

Comments

  1. 1
    ANURAG on 31 Aug 2009 #

    hey!! dunno what has been going in mind of the above person who has posted such a bloody useless comments against SLIM SHADY.u know what he is master of lyrics & he can destroy anyone on this earth lyrically.jus listen his sing 4 d moment song n like toy soldiers and stan & u’ll come to know how intelligent & great he is.he s not like pthr ass hole rappers who just keep on adding in teir lyrics 2 complete their rhymng scheme.in this song also he has used his brain to a vr great extent dt one cant evn imagine of.just listen his last line “THERES A CONCEPT THAT WORKS,20 MILLION OTHERS WHITE RAPPERS EMERGE.BUT NO MATTER HOW MANY FISH IN D SEA,IT WILL B SO EMPTY WIDOUT ME”sheer GENIUS he is.actually genius is also an understatement about him.he is a man who can rap on evry situation be it about life,love,country,politics,terror,war or anythng.no other rapper or singer can do that.just listen like toy soldiers & u will know dat this man has evn done rap wid millitary drums in d background.listen 2 mockingbird and m sure u’ll gonna cry as it is so touching.listen to just loose it and u will know bout dis man’s intelligence bcz throughout d song he is insulting late MJ n then he sings a line in d song sayin “thats not a stab at michael.thats just a metaphor,m just a psycho.i go alittle bit crazy sometimes,i get a little bit out of control wid my rhymes”this is what eminem got n all dis is just a vr small example of his intelligence and that what a great rapper he is.he s undisputedly d best rapper of all times n no one will evr b able 2 evn touch him.

  2. 2
    TaiPan on 6 Mar 2010 #

    I agree that you are entitled to your own point of view and also agree Eminem retains mic skills which are pure talent. Undisputed king of rappers however is a bit of an overstatement. Dr. Dre, Snoop, Biggy, Wu-Tang Clan, NWA, Public Enemy, 2Pac…and the Godfather of Rap L.L. Cool J would like to have a word with you about that.

    I don’t doubt he is intelligent…you have to be intelligent to survive in the Music Industry as a top artist and not be swindled out of your earnings. I would say he lacks intelligence in certain areas such as the trouble he has had with the law…most people can avoid the police all their lives while Eminem seems to look for trouble. That and he seems to like starting feuds with others when a level head could have turned any of these incidents in Eminem’s favor. Taking the Moby incident, Eminem intentionally hit back publicly because it would generate sales for his next album. Don’t think for one minute that Eminem’s agent wasn’t on the phone the to him the second that Moby started saying what he did about Eminem during the music awards.

    Eminem’s reaction was just to generate hype for his next album. He could have said in a statement or in an interview that “Moby isn’t separating the art from the artist.” or “I resent Moby’s comments as I am….” whatever PR junk he or his agent could have thought up and left it at that. Instead there is an outraged Eminem in an interview and then an attack on Moby (which I guess in a hip-hop/rap mindset is understandable) in his new album. It was only free publicity…for both of them.

    Also, House, Electro, and Dance Music all have their origin in Disco while hip-hop was a direct backlash against Disco. As Rap has its roots in hip-hop, I can understand why Eminem may dislike “Techno” – which, ironically, Moby doesn’t produce in the Techno genre of electronic music though Detroit Techno is what Eminem grew up around.

    I also believe that Eminem doesn’t think “Techno” is dead. It goes without saying that he knows who is hot in the music industry and he knows how big electronic music is. First, let’s agree that, yes, Eminem’s success parallels Elvis’ success in a sense that they both were the first white artists to find success in their respective music genres. That is about as far as anyone can reasonably take the similarities. Beyond the obvious in their contrasting images and personalities, Eminem’s overall career success compared to Elvis’ is the same as comparing a small hill to Mount Everest. Eminem’s total estimated record sales are ~80 Million. Elvis has over 1.6 Billion (or if you like, 1600 Million records) records sold.

    Put simply, Eminem’s total sales only equal five percent (5%) of Elvis’. SoundScan and Billboard stats back that up..or just look at Wikipedia…so breakout similarities, yes. Career similarities, no.

    And as for music genre popularity, sales of Rap music in 2009 dropped by 20.9% (soundscan data) and comprised only 9% of all music sold. Sales of Electronic music rose by 2.1% but there are no figures for it’s total percentage as Electronic Music is included in the R&B genre when calculated. But considering that Rap has fewer total record sales than Rock, R&B, Alternative, Country, Metal or even Christian/Gospel and just barely has more sales than Latin, Jazz, Classical and New Age… I wonder if Eminem is starting to wonder if the lyrics of “nobody listens to techo” is coming back to haunt him. It could be thought that Eminem jinxed Rap’s Karma by openly and publicly ‘dissing’ another genre of music. (taking into account the accelerated plummeting of overall sales of the Rap genre and the rise of Electronic Music’s popularity and sales after Eminem’s “Without Me” was released.)

    In any event, it all boils down to the fact that one artist’s (Eminem) words and image were opinionated on by another artist (Moby). Both used the perceive tensions to boost their own record sales and popularity. That’s about all that happened. Most everyone knows that Electronic music is very much alive (just head to Ibiza, Spain, Party capital of the world and where the world’s top clubs are located. It’s all electronic music.) and while very hyped by MTV and the Media, Rap sales are dying off.

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