Respects Eminem women

Voice of a generation

Twenty years ago the US artist Eminem released the epoch-making album "Slim Shady LP", which will be reissued on December 13th as an anniversary edition. How can his success also be explained in Germany, far from Detroit?

Stuttgart - The big stages and record companies are one thing. But the other thing is decisive: the children's room. This is where the decisive factor is whether a rapper, hip hopper or pop singer will be successful. Because what is Youtube and Spotify today was the CD player in the early 2000s. Afternoon after afternoon, children and teenagers around the world sat in front of these mostly silver-colored devices and listened to a man from a trailer park near Detroit who rapped about his difficult childhood, his ex-wife and becoming famous: We are talking about Eminem alias Slim Shady, who was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1972.

Even if you don't hear much from Marshall Mathers anymore, the now 47-year-old singer is considered one of the greatest in rap, i.e. spoken vocals. The album "Marshall Mathers LP" has been sold 32 million times worldwide, "The Eminem Show" 27 million times. In Germany alone there were just under a million copies sold. To date, the video for “Without Me” has been viewed almost 850 million times on YouTube. For those born between 1985 and 1995, the rapper was the voice of their generation, even if they grew up in the village or the suburbs, thousands of miles from Detroit. How did Eminem do it?

Eminem as a figure of identification for white kids

“On the one hand, it was simply the talent,” says Thomas Wilke, media and communication scientist and professor for cultural education at the Ludwigsburg University of Education. “You don't just get to the top, especially not in hip-hop, which is a constant competition.” The characters that Marshall Mathers invented were also a guarantee of success - that is, Eminem and his alter ego Slim Shady. "You never knew who was talking."

And then there is the color of the skin. Before Eminem, hip-hop was a style of music in which whites had no business. The only exceptions were the Beastie Boys. “As a white man, Eminem has worked better for many fans as a figure of identification than African-American rappers. And he showed that a white man can also really rap and has street credibility, ”says Wilke. In addition, the rapper deliberately stereotyped white clichés in his texts and videos and brought himself into an opposing position.

Multiple women and homosexuals devalued

The fact that Eminem was respected in the scene as a white man also has to do with the fact that he always seemed authentic. In many songs he made his insides public - and that was often quite dark. In “Cleanin‘ out my Closet ”he calculates hard with his mother. And the problems with his wife Kim, who soon became an ex-wife, are also a recurring topic. But more than questionable statements also contributed to its authenticity. Eminem expressed himself several times disparagingly towards women and homosexuals. Today, when debates about feminism and sexual orientations have a different impact than then, his misogynous, homophobic and violence-glorifying statements would no longer be left standing or even celebrated as they were twenty years ago.

No more bling, but parody

But back to art. Fans were also intrigued by Eminem's music videos, which played a much bigger role then than they do today. “His videos had a quality all of their own,” says Thomas Wilke, “the form of the parody was new. Suddenly, a hip-hop video was no longer just about bling-bling, i.e. expensive clothes, cars, women, but also about its social context, which was included and parodied. ”In addition, the type of music was unusual. Of course, Eminem was a rapper, but many of his choruses and songs had pop music qualities. For children and adolescents, this meant: Even if you could hardly speak English, you understood something of your texts. "There is something reliable about it when you know: At least I can sing along with the chorus, which will come back soon," says Wilke. "White suburban children were picked up where they were."

The new edition comes out on December 13th

That's probably the secret behind Eminem's success: He picked up his fans! If you didn't feel your life was particularly successful, which is a permanent condition as a teenager, you knew: I'm not alone with my quarrels, this cool rapper has even bigger problems than me - a knowledge that can sometimes be worth a lot to him Children's room, far from drugs, poverty and Detroit.

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