October 5, 2010
There is a fine line between bad lyrics and acceptable ones, and it isn't always easy to figure out, as a young parent, whether or not to allow your children to listen to Eminem's catchy but often disparaging tunes.
I do admit to playing Eminem in the car. I always have. His "Slim Shady" songs even played in the background while I was delivering our first child in July 2000. Eminem was written down in that child's baby book as one of the famous singers of his birth year, along with Clinton as president and...oh yes, the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Most consider Eminem to be a main stream rap artist. However, for me, a pink taxi driver taking my kids to activities all day, his music is certainly not what most mothers listen to. He has been criticized for being white, a black wannabe. I say good for him for taking race out of rap and not being cheesy like his predecessors, Minnie Vanilly and Vanilla Ice!
My now ten year old eldest son was disapointed that he didn't get to see Eminem's movie "8 Miles" sooner. I explained to him that it was the type of movie you needed to be of a certain maturity to understand, and that now that he is in secondary school, he has attained the proper level of wisdom to comprehend. We watched it with my husband, all three of us very caught up in Eminem's ambitious rise to the top. He started from nothing, on the car assembly line in Detroit.
The story was already familiar to us from his lyrics. Eminem sings about his life and the women that inhabit it: his single mother, , his girlfriend turned wife and then ex wife Kim, his daughters Haillie and Lainey . Although his music is not always soothing to the ear, if you are in the right mood to appreciate him, your mind adjusted to his base, you can catch the poetry of his autobiography.
As a family, we are fans of this artist. We appreciate his honesty. He mentions his trailer trash lifestyle, the harsh realities he witnessed while growing up, whether it be the cheating, the female battery, the drugs and alcohol and the need for escapism. Fame became a trap for him, and he was able to recover from his lows by throwing himself into his work. There is so much that he spits up in his songs, which could just sound like aggressive bantering, but might actually be personally redemptive.
In the end, vulnerable stars like Eminem and Agassi create a loyal fan base because we appreciate their openness and their honesty. We all know that life can be a rough road and they show us that even those at the top are human, with heartbreak and weaknesses. They aren't superheroes and that makes them so much more interesting and accessible. I think my kids can learn something from those lessons.
Here is his latest song: