Tuesday, April 07, 2009

On Eminem's New Video "We Made You", and What's Different This Time Around

The new eminem video is in rotation on every urban hip hop blog at the moment. Because of Em's departure from the game it actually provides perspective on how far technology, new media etc have come since Marshall Mathers was last dominating the scene.

Back when he first blew up, if you were looking for minority (as in smaller, not racial/cultural) opinions and voices you had to go out of your way to seek them out. The public perception/reception of an artist was part of the whole music marketing infrastructure where the money/labels controlled the message. But now anything that comes out is guaranteed to have a good spread of Stans, Haters, Crazies, Thoughtful Opinionators chorusing in the comments.

In Eminem's case specifically, his albums have always had an intriguingly stark dichotomy between his white people songs and black people songs: he had the mainstream songs intended for mass consumption, lush with pop culture references sing-song hooks, and rhyme-schemed for accessibility. Then he had those songs that reflected his background as an underground emcee used to freestyling, battles, dense hyper-lyricism-as-end. This is the former:

You can argue Em's pop rhyming is still denser/"harder" than most, but it's really about the artist intent. At the turn of the century it would have been difficult to get a comprehensive sense of the response to this ethnocultural dichotomy in his music, though everyone was certainly aware of it. You could get it out of reviews from journalists that ponder such angles, but not direct from the masses. Without having a melange of multicultural friends with varying degrees of background and interest in hip hop it was all speculation as to whether "My Name Is" or "Without Me" was cheesy to the black dude who grew up with hip hop, vs. the white girl in college who loved it. That sort of thread. But now it's something you can track closely via the related niche blogs, and, as I see it, it sort of platforms the art/music/product as window into the thin-slicing mind.

um, in mercifully shorter terms: a song like this is made to provoke reactions; it's almost more of an art piece than his actual "serious" songs. But it's only now in 2009 that we have the ability to treat it as such, before all takeaways were tied to its ability to generate money.


  1. Anonymous4/07/2009

    Or he might just suck and fade into irrelevancy. For everyone.

  2. Also, blogs make his jokes old by the time the song comes out.

    Good to see those fat rumors were false.

  3. I feek what you're saying TAN. If this joint came on the radio I'd change the station. And I say that with full disclosure that this is the first time hearing it. I'm glad the video was as funny as most of his stuff is known to be, because this one just ain't hittin with me.

    Funny thing is that I wrote about him this morning asking him to come back on the scene.

    Damn, Sarah Palin was hot in that video son!

  4. I consider him one of the best rappers of all time. Then i saw this hot mess yesterday: hate the song, hate the video. This is not how you come out of retirement. I can't believe that this is the first release, their going to have to prove the CD is not garbage now.

    I still appreciate him, I know that the talent is still their but to be honest I feel worried for him. He's looks off and the video and I wonder how's he's doing personally. Nice blog BTW.

  5. It gets a few points for sounding different than any other rap song that's ever come out. But it pretty much sucks when it comes down to it.

  6. Anonymous4/08/2009

    People are eager to hate on Eminem, he was bigger than Obama when he came out. But even in a formulaic song like this he's showing more skills and intelligence than Weezy and Asher Roth combined.

  7. Mr. Pink4/08/2009

    White people are a lot more hip hop literate these days. There's less of a need for the "dichotomy" of which TAN speaks. If a rapper plays into that, he might come off as old and out of touch. Like Eminem in this video.

  8. love the Sarah Palin appearance in this music video -- classic

  9. White people make the best rappers.

  10. He's always been so-so to me. I'm still searching for the appeal. I think it was his novelty. I think time has proven his lack of depth and the having a flow is not the end all.

  11. Who plays the girl who portrays jessica simpson?

  12. who plays jessica simpson in the video?

  13. Anonymous4/27/2009

    Thats not really sarah palin. Thats pornstar Lisa Ann. She played in the porn nailin palin

  14. hi

    i'm from Argentina, way south of your border

    i reach this blog because i was looking if someone were talking about something i think its obvious in the latest eminem video/song, but i cant find

    eminem HATES rock, and everything the word represents. why he makes fun of bret michaels (a douchebag) and not of Flavor Fav (a mental patience)? aren't they the exact same product, but of rock and rap/hip hop?

    why the video shows the guitar hero/rock band style of play screen, but with words instead of notes (i believed last year those two products combined were like the top sellers videogames of all time)?

    rock has gained some attention in the media last year, i think in 2006-7 it was almost completely dominated by hip hop.

    he makes fun of axl rose, another rock icon that has come back last year. of elvis presley. i know that all of this are like a joke in some degree, but arent black people that are in the same category?

    ok, he kinda hates white people in general, youre not gonna ever see him displaying in the same way black people (dead or alive), i think he has never done it.

    can it be that he (and of course dr dre and such) felt that rock was being to present on popular culrture? is he like a black weapon? (conspiracy theory here)

    im asking this as an outsider to your culture, but i felt it so evident, perhapps to you too.

    it is ok for him to do that because he's white, so it doesnt fall in racism? if a black person does exactly the same, it is ok?

    i know that if a white portraits the same way famous black people (and EXCLUSIVELY them) its gonna be seing as a racist, right?

    anyway, some thoughts about your culture and country =)


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