Eminem - "I'm Back" (prod. Dr. Dre & Mel-Man)

As much as I like his Eminem-side, Marshall Mathers' Slim Shady persona is always that indulgence in which I feel no guilt about listening.  Both sides of Em are equally talented but are intended to offer the listener two vastly different experiences.  While Eminem is the man himself, one who has a lot of issues and is capable of recording deep, beautiful, introspective songs like "If I Had" and "Stan," Slim Shady is a hyper-polarized, cartoonish parody of modern American culture.

It's really the genius of Mathers, not only is one of the top-five wordsmiths in hip hop's history, but the creation of these two distinct personas allows him the ability to be two different emcees and make nearly any type of song instead of being pigeonholed into one character or the other.  This song, as with all of his vintage-Slim Shady songs, is supposed to make you cringe.  It's sick and twisted and you're supposed to have a guttural reaction when they hear absurd lines like, It's a sick world we live in these days/ "Slim for Pete's sake, put down Christopher Reeve's legs!

But what I find incredible about these songs is that Mathers doesn't say these things just to say them or show off his dumbfounding delivery.  Mathers, like most great artists, uses his controversy to critique society.  Americans seem more obsessed with the faux-reality displayed in reality television than the real world.  Em lets out some direct commentary on his own life--this song, aside from displaying vintage-Slim Shady, gives the listener insight into a the life of a man trying desperately to cope with the stress brought on by overnight success--but he also amplifies the attributes of reality T.V.-America, demonstrating the flaws in supporting such a culture.

This song, off his sophomore Marshall Mathers LP, is one of the many examples of why I have trouble listening to Recovery.  It's not the overproduction or even that he's lost a step on his rhyme schemes.  What saddens me is that the Slim Shady-persona, which once seemed to come so natural to Mathers, now seems forced.  On an album that's supposed to display a more mature Mathers, and does at many points, the times when he steps into the Shady persona seem jarring and out of place.  Instead of both personas contrasting one another and adding something to the larger whole, the contrast seems to now detract from both sides.  It's inevitable that artists grow and change, but it just seems weird that Mathers is trying to grow while simultaneously holding onto the past.

I'm no one to critique Eminem.  He's one of my top-two emcees of all time and I'm a writer who only gets around 100 hits/day on his blog.  But I guess I'm just a fan who loves and misses his old material like this classic.

Peace, Love, & Shady,

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