The Warning

By Herb Scribner

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Eminem was never cool.

The first time I heard Eminem was when I was a very young lad and “My Name Is” first made the jump on the airwaves. I remember specifically arguing with my mother that he said “Slim Shady” and not “Zim Zany.” Either way, I remember watching the video for the first time and thinking nothing of this new artist. I was probably too young to really grasp what I was listening to.

Fast forward to fifth grade, when my friend Kyle introduced me to “The Eminem Show,” an album he stole from his brother and thought was pretty good. Immediately upon hearing the opening songs, I began to understand the power of music. Someone could tell their life’s story through the art of music and beautifully shape it into composed majesty. Eminem, despite his swears, his cussing, his crazy antics and pure hate, did just that.

He inspired me to rap. “The Eminem Show” and the release of the film “8 Mile” turned me into a bit of a rapper. Like Eminem, I wanted people to hear my story, whatever it was, and understand that, I too, give off some power from my lyrics.

Next came “Encore” and I loved the album (I later decided it did not match up to his other albums). With the this new release I decided to change my game from a fun-loving, basketball-oriented rapper to something with emotion and heart; it became something more along the lines of “Like Toy Soldiers” or “Mockingbird.”

For what seemed like an eternity, I waited for Eminem’s newest album. I graduated high school before “Relapse” hit record stores. It became my anthem for the summer of 2009. While the album itself lacked in emotion, reverting back to his old ways of loopy lyrics and crazy, yes crazy, situations, it still felt like an Eminem album because he was telling his story. The song “Beautiful” really grasped this concept; we were finally allowed to see the deepest, depressing parts of Eminem’s psyche.

Let’s stop and review what we know.

I’ll say it again, Eminem was never cool. Although he was lyrically different, he never really made the jump from CD player to hallway talk. He was always that elephant in the room. Everyone knew his songs, everyone knew his lyrics, but when they came up in a popular setting, he was laughed at. His songs became mere jokes.

Then comes “Recovery,” and this new era of Eminem.

Eminem used to be a solo artist and used to make fun of all the pop stars. He was young, he was immature, and he just wanted to make a name for himself by doing these sorts of things. When he was featured on the song “Forever” with Drake, Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West, he immediately made the jump from this immature and younger version of Eminem that was seen in the past, to a more mature man who is looking to beast-mode on everybody in the business and show his talent.

After a near-death experience because of drug mishaps, he isn’t going to waste anymore time being that insane, crazy, head-spinning rapper that he always has been. He’s unleashing his raw talent; he’s releasing the skills he has to show off just how good of a rapper he is. It’s not about how people perceive him; it’s not about being the “cool” rapper that everybody wants to listen to. Eminem is just looking out for himself and looking to finish telling his story while still giving out the best rapping ability he has to offer.

You can call him out on the commercials he did for the Super Bowl, but can you really blame a guy who hasn’t released an album in five years for wanting to make some dough? But for the Chrysler one, I don’t think it was about money. For a while, Eminem has been the only celebrity advocating for a Detroit revival – which the city needs in every sense of the word.

Finally, although Eminem didn’t win the Grammy for Album of the Year (again), he did win Rap Album of the Year (for the fifth time). The Recording Industry Association of America may have rejected his latest deep, emotional and raw effort, but it is no less relatable and inspiring. The rapper has been through severe struggles, made mistakes and hit rock bottom, only to climb back up and take the game by its throat with a new found maturity.

Again, Eminem was never cool, and he never will be. He’ll always be respected and admired for what he has accomplished. He’ll throw out a few more albums until he reaches that pedestal and eventually grabs Album of the Year. It’s not to make more money or to prove the haters wrong.

Eminem is merely trying to become the best in the industry by telling his emotionally tragic story. He’s using his talent to show why he is the best in the rap game, and why he deserves to be at the top of the hill.

Don’t believe me? Listen to his lyrics.

Herb Scribner is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]