Browse Topics



Music Cues: Eminem
Scott Simon
January 06, 2001

Scott Simon commentary on controversial rapper Eminem

I try not to be a fuddy-duddy. I know that my mother didn't quite get The Beatles, her mother didn't quite get Elvis Presley. Bad boys have a way of becoming loveable. I know that lot's of people thought that Lenny Bruce was dirty. He was, and that's fine. Artists, and even regular people, have to talk dirty every once in a while to make a point. But sometimes there is nothing more ridiculous than an adult trying to look hip, or fly, as they put it nowadays. The people who give out Grammys this week nominated rapper Eminem and his "Marshall Mathers LP" for album of the year. The album has both been lauded for being compelling and clever, and criticized for being bigoted toward homosexuals. The song Kill You goes:

`You faggots keep egging me on 'till I have you at knife point.
Then, you beg me to stop.
Shut up when I'm talking to you, you hear me?
Answer me, or I'm going to kill you.
My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge that'll stab you in the head
whether you're a fag or a lez or the homosex-hermafor-transvestance-or dress.
Hate fags? The answer is, yes.'

Maybe I'm just not using the right beat. Eminem's album has sold eight million copies. Eminem doesn't need a Grammy to be rich or important. Music people suggest that the Grammys may need him to appear fly. Michael Greene, president of the Recording Academy of Arts and Sciences, compares Eminem to Lenny Bruce. "Eminem is theater," he says. "There's no question about the repugnancy of many of his songs; they're nauseating. But it's a remarkable recording and the dialogue that it's already started is a good one."

How do you dialogue when you're having nausea?