Eminem: An analysis, perspective, thinkpiece, blog post.....

Whatever you want to call it this is a write up on Eminem. My sense of not necessarily being too concerned with the nuance of the title gives credence into how I feel about him.  Eminem is an odd figure in the canon of hip-hop due to the distinct path that he moves on. Let's get a couple ideas out of the way because I think they matter. He is not the first successful white rapper, nor is he the first. He's also not the first controversial white rapper. With the white history out of the way, for the remainder of this blog post I want you to view the person I'm talking about as a Black man.Whatever you want to call it this is a write up on Eminem. My sense of not necessarily being too concerned with the nuance of the title gives credence into how I feel about him.  Eminem is an odd figure in the canon of hip-hop due to the distinct path that he moves on. Let's get a couple ideas out of the way because I think they matter. He is not the first successful white rapper, nor is he the first. He's also not the first controversial white rapper. With the white history out of the way, for the remainder of this blog post I want you to view the person I'm talking about as a Black man.


Eminem was born on the 8 mile line in a poor trailer park in Detroit. The guy had writing talent and a few people who were supportive of him and his rise in the game of hip-hop. He at first was clowned on stage, but then given a chance from a good friend named Proof to begin some legendary battle rapping. As such, his lyrical prowess drew the attention of Dr. Dre who would eventually sign him to Aftermath. Under Dre's beat making skills and tutelage, Eminem would begin to take from his Marshall Matthers LP. 

The mainstream media got a hold of his controversial lyrics and amazing flow which began a whirlwind of attention.  He had lyrics that called out several celebrities like Limp Bizkit and Moby. His lyrics also were extremely misogynist and homophobic as he bashed gays over their sexuality blatantly and then found hatred by antagonizing his wife and in a sense his daughter with threats of murder and drama. He also promoted a crass sense of jackassery with a style that many kids wanted to imitate from drug use, vulgarity, raping and killing women. Tons of kids wanted to dress and be like him even in suburbia kids wanted to be like him.  Also many other poor trailer park people looking for a vanguard for their plight, found one in Eminem and supported his ideals while preaching their pride for their poverty.  People often enjoyed his critique of president Clinton and president Bush and found a voice that they were looking for even though they may have had Republican ideals.

Eventually his fame and skill grew so large that respectable hip-hop heads considered him to be worthy of being in the top 5. As such, his skill and respect in so much so that he was able to transcend race as people are highly excited when he is on a track or makes some new music due to his reputation. Still, his verbal disrespect in and outside of his lyrics has often tarnished while popularizing his overall image. He is also not the only rapper to be misogynist and homophobic either. It is personally, my least favorite aspect and personal struggle about hip-hop/rap in general as it doesn't respect women and LGBT people in any capacity; which leads into that idea of separating the art from the person. This skill seems to be easy though with Eminem because of his reputation and what his upbringing is.

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Now I have to ask, as you have imagined this story and analysis as if this person was a Black man, is this even possible for a Black hip-hop artist to achieve? No it is not because Eminem is actually white and regardless of his upbringing, his lyricism and controversy he is allowed to move in spaces where Black rappers cannot. He can be heralded at a frat party, bumped a summer garden party in white suburbia, give credence to white poor people and their issues, and even be thought of as a white savior to several Black people who say "hey he's one of us and can be invited to the cook out!" However, he isn't one of us and never has been. Sure he's made some support of his hometown in Detroit in both white and Black spheres, but it's never been consistent. Furthermore, could a Black rapper get away with threatening to rape and kill his wife in front of his daughter? No he absolutely couldn't he would be hung out to dry same as any other controversial hip-hop figure. And while I will not go into his specific songs, albums or even videos there is an entire acceptance to all that he does purely because he is white. 

Do I think there are better rappers? Absolutely - go look at my top 10 MCs list along with my ode to Tribe Called Quest. 

Do I think there are more controversial rappers? Depends on what you mean by controversy. Dr. Dre beats women, but not as many people know about that as they do Eminem's blatant disrespect.

Can I ignore the whiteness for talent? It's not even that I cannot, it's that you cannot look at Eminem and ignore it, it is why he is so famous, it is why he can move through circles, it is why people let his condemnation of America, women, gays, and so much more slide.

Therefore, in an argument I've had since his inception into common knowledge, Eminem is not in my top 5 or my top 10 not only because of talent, but because if he was a Black man we would never even be having this conversation. 

The Pervasiveness of Whiteness (Not just Trump's)

This post will not be about the NFL movement, but about what surrounds it. Overall, whiteness is pervasive in every fabric of our society and Trump has existed to highlight that. Yes, whiteness is everywhere and it is constantly everywhere I cannot watch a piece of media without seeing Trump or the issue of whiteness in some form. To give some recent examples:

NFL Sunday - Trump calls them out and everyone follows Kaep (late and not entirely the right reason but solidarity against white supremacy is great only because of the costs). Hopefully people continue the protest.

Kingsman 2: The President is a caricature of Trump

The Deuce: People hate on the current mayor and changes as if it's Trump

South Park: Trump's tweets

Game of Thrones: The Night King/Cersei and their political moves

I could continue on and on, but the whole point is no matter where you look, whiteness and Trump in particular wraps itself around all of the US.  However, as I read a soul-cleansing  book, called Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, I have learned that whiteness still keeps its tendrils in parts of Africa, South America and more. Hence countries that have little influence (Cuba and Myanmar) often feel unfamiliar because they move to their own beat. At times, I view it as a disease as most people moved to their own beats in general before whiteness. Yes there were wars and other atrocities, but the level at which whiteness has overcompensated for the weakness of its ancestors is thorough and damaging for generations.

Continue to speak out and call out white supremacy. White people from within must continue to do so as well. I can only hope one day it fades. 

Why We Like Sense8

Sense8 is a rare love or hate show that is solely based on if its globalism appeals to you or not. If it does, you're hooked if it doesn't there is little anyone could do to sell you on the idea. However, for me and many others this show works because of its passion felt through every character and situation.

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Dear White People Reflections- *Spoilers!*

If you haven’t by now, then I hope you run to see the magnificent Dear White People on Netflix. The show picks up where the film left off but explores far more areas of Black society, culture, themes identity, mentality and Blackism than the film had time to do. While at first, one would think that the show would be a call to action like the film was for white people; however, instead the show is a deep exploration about what it means to be Black in the millennial era. The show explores many types of Black people and what their journeys mean when they compete, intersect and stand-alone. As such, this article will be to discuss the character development arcs and what they bring to Blackness and some notes about other characters.

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What Type of Comedy do you Enjoy?

One of the discussions that came up with Dave Chapelle’s recent stand-up specials on Netflix is that we have become too politically correct to enjoy jokes that would have generally made us laugh in the 2000s. You have to remember Chapelle’s first sketch had him as a racist blind Black man. Granted one of his big jokes is extremelyoffensive, the joke line in Chapelle’s special oddly had several people, including women laughing. As such, it’s odd that one has to wonder is it the delivery, your trust in Chapelle or something else altogether that made people laugh at that joke considering how many people, myself included, are vehemently opposed to that action.

 

That being said, I have to wonder what people find funny these days. Thus, I want to explore some various forms of comedy and comedians that follow their style. I’m hoping that people will be able to share what forms of humor they enjoy and which ones they don’t.

 

Sketch Comedy – I think this is one of the most consistent forms of comedy in existence as it has lasted since the early days of vaudeville shows to now. Sketch comedy is generally a self-contained short story played out by one or more actors that follow a hilarious premise or theme for about five minutes. When this works well you have a sketch that you enjoy going back to for humor or possibly can extend into longer segments or movies. When it fails you have a played out sketch that people know are a one-trick pony.

Successful Examples: Borat, Rick James

Unsuccessful Examples: Malibu’s Most Wanted, Adam Sandler’s characters

 

Anecdotal Humor – This humor is the bread and butter of stand-up outside of being able to relate to people. Anecdotal humor says stories and experiences that end up being funny due to the comedians delivery or simply because it’s a story people can relate to. When this comedy works it is a twist on a story that most people think will go one way but then it heads in directions you never even fathomed.  When it does notproduce laughs is when the audience or people have difficulty not only believing the story but being able to relate to the story.

Successful Examples: Louis CK and his show, Richard Pryor’s stand-up

Unsuccessful Examples: Sarah Silverman, many amateur comedians

 

Slapstick/Physical Comedy – One of the oldest forms of humor that started where sketch started in vaudeville shows. This humor has undergone more transformations than the other humor on this list. Early slapstick often has Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton to thank for making forays in films without sound. However, with sound Harpo Marx and the Three Stooges paved the way for much humor until the 60s/70s when stand-up began to change the vaudeville nature of slapstick. However, physical humor was not done as Jackass* revived it as people enjoyed laughing at a group of guys doing the dumbest actions to injure themselves or look ridiculous for fun. At current, it is hard to see where this humor will go as ithas more changing trends than anecdotal or sketch.

*Jackass was hard to place as it has gross out humor, which veers into absurdist humor, but it also has some unbelievable physical comedy that puts it into this category primarily and absurdist secondary. 

Successful Examples: Buster Keaton, Jackass

Unsuccessful Examples: Carrot Top, “Make ‘Em Laugh” routine in Singin’ in the Rain

 

Absurdist Humor – A newer phenomenon of humor that lends itself to animation because of the bounds you can push its ideas. Absurdist humor relies on far more chance than the other humor because the creators are hoping at some point you’ll be so shocked or surprised that a joke is going there to laugh because it’s inconceivable. Conversely, it is easy to turn off someone who doesn’t want to take that journey from the get go as someone avoids the politically incorrect and taboo directions absurdist humor often goes. Still, it seems to be one of the highest humor draws of modern and younger audiences that older generations cannot even begin to access.

Successful Examples: Superjail, Bob’s Burgers

Unsuccessful Examples: Squidbillies, Tom and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!

 

Parody/Pastiche Humor – Another transformative style of comedy that has went through several mediums. A great deal of parody humor took place in the mid-20th century thanks in part to a great deal of Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks movies that not only made fun of movie classics – Young Frankenstein, movie themes – Blazing Saddles, and even historical events – History of the World Part 1. These would continue for years until a set of rivaling animated TV shows would take this to new heights. Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy regularly battle it out for parodies or allusions to set ideas for humor. Sometimes being a small part of the episode or show to being an entire episodic arc. When this is done well it gives a new way of looking at an art form that is not only humorous but also thought-provoking; when done wrong the parody goes over audiences heads or becomes laborious and played out.

Successful Examples: Imaginationland Arc of South Park, Venture Bros.

Unsuccessful Examples: Family Guy’s drawn out parodies, later Police Academy films

 

Thematic Comedy – Thematic comedy can be a part or include any of the above ideas, but the main point of thematic comedy is to run with an idea longer than a sketch as it becomes a large part of the humor or one of the largest premises of a stand-up comedians approach. While this humor can encompass a variety of ideas and doesn’t have an age or transformation like many of the other forms of comedy on this list. Sometimes these themes are timeless and other times these themes are specific trends that may fade out.

Successful Examples: Chris Rock – Black issues of living in America, Margaret Cho – Asian parents/grandparents

Unsuccessful Examples: Dane Cook – bro humor, Kevin Hart – Fuckboy humor

 

*Gross-Out Humor – quick line on this humor, as I don’t think it deserves its own section, but at the same time it doesn’t always fit into one humor specifically (thematic or absurdist are the most likely). However, it is completely hit or miss as it is hard to tell what person or what age of a person genuinely thinks toilet humor is comedic gold.

 

What’s your favorite style of comedy? Did I miss an idea? Feel free to discuss