My Appreciation of Eminem

“Out of all the artists you listen to, who do you relate to the most?” she asked.

“Eminem”

I remember the first day I listened to Em. I was in primary school, located in a small town called Marondera in Zimbabwe. A boarding school it was and at the time, I was 12 years old and in my final year of primary school, adolescence was kicking in and excitement for the next phase of my education was looming. I was in the dorm when a friend of mine came in with the Marshall Mathers LP CD. I can tell you, it was the most sought after CD that ever graced my school. Everyone wanted to listen to it as there was only one copy of it in the entire school. So ya, my friend became the most popular guy of 2001.

Being at boarding school meant that I only went home once every three or four weeks during the term and for school holidays. I knew nothing about Eminem at the time because I was still into cartoons and PG13 movies. With all the hype surrounding the CD in my dorm, I figured I should give it a try. By the time it got to me, I was considered “uncool”. People were quoting his lyrics, nodding their heads in a rhythmic manner with invisible earphones in class, and silently humming Eminem’s songs during rugby practice. Let me paint a picture, I was a cool kid and a nerd. I was everything and I was in everything that defined “cool”. Academic Honours, 1st Team Cricket scorer (actually head cricket scorer), 2nd Team Rugby Captain (VC to be exact because the actual captain was injured. But at the time, I was captain), 3rd smartest in our grade using the “Star Paper System” (from grade 3 to grade 7 you get awarded a star for every good thing you do academically. You collect Stars on a Star Paper and if you fill up a certain amount of Star Papers you get a book. I only enrolled in grade 4, meaning I was a year late and I finished 3rd only by 3 Star Papers). And I brought movies that were considered “not ideal for viewing at our school and will not be tolerated by the staff” (that’s a quote from the monthly school letters). They were PG13 – Little Nicky with Adam Sandler for example. Calm down, I know what you were thinking. Even at 12 years of age, PG13 HAD to be respected.

I was definitely cool.

But Marshall Mathers LP was by far the coolest thing to have been brought to my school. Eventually the CD came my way and all I can say is my life changed for the better. Em was truthful, angry, spoke his mind and opened me up to a world cartoons did not show me. Through this album, he shared his life experiences and all the things he was going through at the time. Though extreme for my 12 year old mind, Em showed me what being an adult is like. The Way I am was instantly my favourite song, his skits were the funniest skits I had heard through earphones and they are funny till today, and the effects of what fame has done to him and those around him. Stan, Marshall Mathers, Who Knew, The Real Slim Shady. The ENTIRE album was a classic and it’s definitely in the Hall of Fame under Greatest Rap Albums.

From 2001 it became the Eminem show (that’s word play). I became a fan, I collected as much of Em’s music as I possibly could, I moved from cartoons to Mtv just to see a music video by Em, each time Em was performing at an awards show or an event, I would stay up and watch it then go to sleep when he was done. Sing for the Moment became an instant classic, Till I Collapse, and Superman. The list continues goes on.

“That’s why we seize the moment, try to freeze it and own it,

Squeeze it and hold it, ’cause we consider these moments golden” – Sing for the Moment

Eminem was not a “trailer park trash” menace to society. He was an artist who spoke about the reality of some people’s situations and “white America”. It was viewed as extreme, vulgar and detrimental to society. But I found Eminem more relateable than hit me baby one more time.

“I can relate to what you’re saying in your songs,

So when I have a sh**ty day, I drift away and put ‘em on” – Stan

Photo credit HqLines.tumblr.com
Photo credit HqLines.tumblr.com

When an artist can touch you, speak for you and help you express yourself, that’s when you know you’re listening to music. I listen to Eminem because he is music. He speaks about the truth, the reality of life, issues that are going on in his life and others, with the odd diss track that makes me laugh. He has no rules, no boundaries, allowing him to be free, allowing Marshall Mathers to be himself. I stumbled upon an interview of an artist recently and he told the interviewer that he wants to inspire the world through his music. I laughed, changed the channel and the song that was playing was his entitled Bitches and Marijuana. Great! And people say Eminem is bad.

“Then attack Eminem ’cause I rap this way” – The Way I Am

When Proof passed, Em went into a rut. Understandable and my biggest fear was that Em was never going to rap again. It was a dark time for him and for hip hop as well. Weird ghetto dances were considered hip hop and apparently if you met someone at the mall it was going down. Em was heavily on drugs, he had lost his best friend and I had lost my teacher. There was a possibility Marshall Mathers was no more and it scared me. This possibility made me consider going to the mall to see what was going to go down. Then the rumours came out about a double album from Eminem. I almost cried. He was coming back. Em was coming back. He released Relapse…… I cried! It was horrible. My worst fear was coming true. Eminem could not rap. Then a couple of months later I heard:

“F*** my last CD, that sh** is in my trash” – Cinderella Man

Recovery was exactly that. As you can see on my Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts, the cover image is the album cover for Recovery. Eminem was back! And I love that picture because I am on the long road too. 25 to Life, Space Bound, Not Afraid, WTP. Wow! Wow! Wow! Eminem was back and my life was back to normal. Eminem even punched Vinnie Chase on Entourage. Thanks Em, that season was trash and I too, wanted to punch him.

I cried! You’re Never Over made me cry.

“Instead of mourning your death, I would rather celebrate your life” – You’re Never Over

Your song, plus the support of my peeps at the time, got me through a very difficult time in my life. All I can say is thank you. My best friend may be gone but he is never over. You are so right!

I would like to give a shout out to my cousin, Tinashe, for giving me the opportunity to see Eminem LIVE in Cape Town. I couldn’t believe it. I saw Em, live, at the Cape Town Stadium. Greatest night of my life in Cape Town!

“Wasn’t ready to be a millionaire, I was ill-prepared

I was prepared to be ill though, the skill was there!” – Survival

Then the curtain dropped…. He came out…. The best rapper alive was in Cape Town and there he was, standing on stage, rapping on stage and lighting a fire under our asses. I still can’t believe I saw Eminem in my lifetime. Then I got to see him rap in supersonic speed as the rap god that he is. I’m still looking for the Rapture Tour DVD. I have to admit, I have been slacking so if it’s out there, I shall find it. I have to.

“Out of all the artists you listen to, who do you relate to the most?” she asked. I could go on and on about my love for Eminem. In a way, I’m the Zimbabwean Stan. Not really but close enough. I have all of his albums (except Relapse), I have a bucket load of his singles and my Eminem folder is the largest folder I have (music, 8 Mile and all his features). His music has done a lot for me, helped me through dark times, and inspired me to be better and most importantly, his music has taught me that I shouldn’t care about what people think of me. I am my own person with my own problems and my own achievements. I should not be afraid to do what I want to do, I should not be afraid to say f*** the world and live my life, and It’s Ok (Infinite).

“You can be a star, no matter wherever you are, you’re never too far” – Never Too Far

2015 Eminem is still killing it on the soundtrack of Southpaw (a really good movie to watch):

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