The Return Of Eminem: Too Little, Too Late?

Early reactions to Eminem’s comeback (now in progress!) seem, well, sort of split. The reaction to “I’m Having A Relapse, which leaked yesterday, seems to be about 75% as loud as the buzz surrounding his new book, The Way I Am. However, nothing would make me happier in this mixed up music biz than if this record–which is allegedly going to come out as part of the Great Rush To The Exits Of Q4 2008–bombed.

Last time we heard much from Eminem–in 2005–he served up a mixed bag of various bad signs, including insiders mumbling that he’d lost his ability to make hits somewhere. There are already some warning signs of impending disaster, with Elton John reportedly jetting to Detroit in order to work on some sort of duet/continued flogging of their show of solidarity at the 2001 Grammys. Still, Dr. Dre is taking care of the beats and apparently Eminem is focused on returning strong.

Detroit hip-hop artist Trick Trick, whose upcoming album “The Villain” includes contributions from Eminem, said the material he’s heard is “old school with a new twist” — and finds the rapper embracing his early musical persona.

“I can tell you this much: Slim Shady is back. Not Marshall Mathers,” he said. “Slim Shady, that jackass everybody fell in love with? Yeah, he’s back.”…

Eminem will arrive at a pop-music world in transition. Hip-hop sales are down, club music is morphing, the Top 40 demographic is older. His own fan base has matured: The class of ’99 has its 30s in sight.

Despite that, said radio industry observer Sean Ross, the rapper will likely enjoy big-time buzz. At his peak, after all, Eminem “was the Rolling Stones of 1975 to a 17-year-old.”

“It’s certainly gotten harder, but at this moment, there’s nothing else so phenomenal that he wouldn’t get attention,” Ross said.

To me, hearing the same misogyny and random bursts of juvenile hate speech from a 36-year-old man sounds like the worst listening experience ever. But who can explain the market these days? Maybe you can:

Eminem hits the mic again [Detroit Free Press]

  • Audif Jackson Winters III

    It’s over/
    nobody listens to techno/

  • iantenna

    To me, hearing the same misogyny and random bursts of juvenile hate speech from a 36-year-old man sounds like the worst listening experience ever.

    why is it that rap’s misogyny is always such a focal point? i’d certainly agree that his sexual politics leave something to be desired, but the same goes for hemingway and dylan and countless others.

  • Dan Gibson

    @iantenna: You’re missing the point a bit. I’m not finding general misogyny (or even hip hop’s in particular) unlistenable, just Eminem’s particularly disturbing and tiresome brand.

  • phaballa

    Homophobia and misogyny work pretty well for Katy Perry.

  • Halfwit

    For me personally, it’s not so much that homophobia and misogyny in rap are any more problematic than those themes in other genres. The problem is that once you’re no longer… let’s say, 25, it comes across as just calcified hatred.

    The “Slim Shady’s back” concept makes me say that this is going to be serviceable, but largely sad and desperate. Every long-lived musician has a point where the “hungry, angry young turk” persona just looks like a mid-life crisis: even Jay-Z had to hang up the throwbacks at a certain point.

  • Lax Danja House

    That “I Kissed A Boy” parody was probably the most uncomfortable I’ve been in a long time. I mean, I’ve probably only listened to Eminem’s last 2 albums once or twice each, but I was completely consumed by Slim Shady and Marshall Mathers for a long time, so I am prepared to overlook his massive prejudices, but… jesus! The fascination some homophobes have with painting graphic images of gay sex is kind of… odd?

  • iantenna

    @Halfwit: dylan seemed to hate women more the older he got and it kinda made him better (see: desire and blood on the tracks).

  • I’m Crushing Your Head

    The class of ’99 has its 30s in sight.

    …and now I feel prematurely old.

  • La Mareada

    @iantenna: Its always a focus because the most popular mainstream hip-hop wallows in misogyny and doesn’t move on. Hip-hop became more closed minded and narrow about women and Eminem’s popularity in the 90s solidified that. For Eminem its the central theme of his work, what else is there to discuss? Artists that seem less consumed by it like Kanye or Outkast have to always add some awkward, out-the-blue lyrics to prove they’re not soft or gay. Sure there are hip-hop artists that aren’t at all sexist or misogynist(and someone’s going to post a list), but how many of them are actually popular or considered relevant in the 2000s?

  • Halfwit

    @iantenna: The sheer hilarity of a Dylan/Eminem comparison aside, Eminem has even crossed that age threshold.

    Blood on the Tracks – 34.
    Desire – 35.
    Eminem – 36 (yesterday, actually).

  • Michaelangelo Matos

    Everyone remembers that the Rolling Stones sucked in 1975, right?

  • Lucas Jensen

    @Michaelangelo Matos: I don’t know. I might be the lone defender of both Black and Blue and It’s Only Rock and Roll around here, but I dig ‘em. I certainly don’t think they were terrible and Some Girls was on the horizon. Now after that? Yeah, they kinda started sucking.

  • Lucas Jensen

    @Lucas Jensen: Oh, wait. I like Tattoo You.

  • T’Challa

    Yeah, trying to bag on mid-’70s Stones is a tough battle (See ‘Sucking in the ’70s,’ chock full of goodness).