I love Eminem. Always have. And I’m not alone in thinking that he’s one of the greatest MCs of our time.
That said, I’m not allowed to listen to him while I’m driving. He makes me drive noticeably more aggressively than usual.
But I can’t help it…if you want to get pumped about abusive relationships or Munchhausen Syndrome or whatever, Eminem will get you there.
He recently released a new album, and his critics are saying it’s too political. This is following a Trump-bashing freestyle he performed earlier this year at the BET Awards. They’re trying to discredit his words by saying he’s ‘just a rapper,” he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he should go back to singing about drugs, bitches and hoes, and Christina Aguilera.
Is that the best they can come up with?
So, I recently met a guy in New York City. He was an actor – super handsome, charming, funny, talented – with a distinct social conscience. He talked more about his charitable aspirations than he did about his acting, and his passion for helping others was wonderfully evident.
In fact, he expressed that as an entertainer, he felt he wasn’t having enough of a positive impact on the world as he would like to (which is debatable).
But the way I see it is at the very least, entertainment earns you a platform – or it can, for better or for worse.
Talent gets you noticed. Life experiences help you perceive the world in a way that others may not be able to. Art then helps you communicate your ideas back to the world.
The artists are the ones who resonate with the people. They’re the ones who inspire change, whether it’s change in thought or in action. They’re the ones who tap into the visceral feeling of an issue, not just the surface-level talking points that get regurgitated on MSNBC and FOX.
And the best part, in my opinion? They’re just like us.
Sure, some of them may have been handsomely rewarded for their talent after years and years of struggle, poverty, and perseverance, but we can’t hold the fact that they’ve finally “made it” against them.
Yes, people can argue that an influx of money creates a disconnect between the average person and the rich, which I absolutely agree with. Fame and adoration can be even more damaging to the balance. I’ve seen it happen.
But what if these artists were able to keep a finger on the social pulse as they continued to climb their personal ladder of success? What if, despite their money and fame, they were still able to hold ties to the plight of the rest of us?
What if they didn’t – and couldn’t – ever forget where they came from?
Yes, Eminem obviously makes way more money than I do, but that wasn’t always the case. He started from somewhere, and those roots should not be discredited. They’re still there.
Artists are human. They live in the same world as you and me. They’re affected by it. They’re friends and families are affected by it.
The difference is that they’re in a position to do something about it, whereas you and I are not.
Again, for better or for worse.
I’m reminded of a quote from The Princess Diaries. Don’t judge.
In the movie, Mia was trying to choose between taking her place as the princess of some random (fake) country in Europe or living out her days as a normal American citizen. She was leaning towards abdicating when her best friend, who had been insufferable up to this point, stepped up to talk her out of it.
“But the truth is, you being a princess is kind of a miracle…Wanting to rock the world but having zip power, like me? Now, that’s a nightmare. But you? Wow…’Wow’ is having the power to affect change; make people listen! How many teenagers have that power? What more of a miracle do you want?”
Well said, Lilly.
And here I am. I’m Lilly. I have a blog that I post articles on. I reach X number of people. I know, for sure, that my parents at least read the things I write.
But this actor I met? His platform is way bigger than mine.
And Eminem’s? Infinitely bigger than the actor’s.
But people don’t like to hear about politics – or anything that makes them uncomfortable – from their entertainers. Apparently, any kind of commentary on social injustices and political bullshit (for lack of a better word) can only be made by experts in the field. Only political scientists and economists are allowed to talk about taxes. Only doctors can talk about healthcare. Only men can talk about women’s reproductive health… The rest of us should just sit and listen. God forbid we have an opinion on the things we see and hear and are affected by. God forbid we try to start a dialogue and learn more about the things we don’t understand.
Of course, that’s assuming the intent is to learn and grow, and not to forcibly assert poorly-developed thoughts and theories on others.
The left has a bad reputation for being obnoxious and loud, but can you actually blame them? What other option do people have, realistically? People talk about the things that are close to them, that bother them. And yes, they talk about things they may not fully understand. But I’m glad they do. If they didn’t, no one would be there to offer another perspective. No one would know to encourage them to question their beliefs and viewpoints. No one would challenge and educate them.
For better or for worse.
The danger in all of this lies in the message that’s being yelled.
Is it close-minded? Is it short-sighted? Is it open to criticism? Is it self-serving or ego-driven? Is it rooted in evidence and fact, or is it primarily backed by emotion and passion? Are people thinking before they’re speaking, or is the message getting lost between snark and arrogance and bad humor?
Delivery is everything.
Why is Eminem so captivating?
For me, and I think for a lot of people, it comes down to authenticity. Speaking and living “your truth” has been a pretty big theme of 2017, but Eminem’s been doing that from the beginning. And people have been listening.
There’s something to be said for a guy who’s always been so consistently and unapologetically himself – and people love him for it. Not only that, they revere him for it.
In a way, they/we need him for it.
Last night, I was hanging out with some friends of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while. One of them is active in local government, so obviously, he’s quite involved in the political scene.
He asked us all,
“On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your 2017?”
I think I said my year started at a 2 and ended at a 9.
The guy asking the question ended up at a 6 or 7, and his reasons for deducting points had a lot to do with the overall state of the nation and world.
And so a follow-up question arose, “Wait, are we ranking 2017 on a personal level, or are we including national/global issues?”
We decided that while we could separate the two, it was hard to do. The ongoing stress of the political and social climate is taking a toll on all of us, to the point that it’s impacting our personal lives and health.
We need a way to process the things happening around us, and unfortunately, most of us don’t or won’t take the time to do so. Or, even if we did take the time, it’s hard to look at a million and one stimuli, organize them in your head, make sense of them, and then really dig deep within yourself to see how it all makes you feel.
As so…we have Eminem to help with that. It’s literally what he does for a living. You don’t have to agree with him to appreciate what he’s producing. You don’t have to silence him because you think his designated lane is elsewhere. You shouldn’t discredit him because 10 years ago, he talked about X, Y, and Z.
It’s about where he is today. He’s having just as hard of a time separating his personal life from the wider state of things as many of us are, and the fact remains that his lyrics hold weight with people.
He’s doing what he knows how to do, and I’m grateful he is. Expression should never be discouraged, on either side of the fence. And if you can reach someone with your art, then why wouldn’t you?
The chorus to Eminem’s opening track, as sung by Beyonce, goes like this:
“I walk on water, but I ain’t no Jesus. I walk on water, but only when it freezes.”
These artists are exalted and put on pedestals. They’re celebrated for their genius and their talent. But the reality is that they’re not so different from the rest of us. They live their lives as best they can, hopefully impacting some kind of positive change, while still being riddled with self-doubt, insecurity, and fear.
The difference is the voice and the platform.