Not only are rapper Eminem's lyrics giving him credibility among writers, he also has two books out, Angry Blonde and The Way I Am. (Written while still under drug rehab, or so they say). The Detroit rapper, who has sold more albums than anyone in the past decade, has a vast following of disaffected suburban youth drawn to his rage, sarcasm and bitter humor. His posse of admirers also boasts an unlikely elite circle of heavy hitters from the book world. Seriously.Not Afraid, by Eminemhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5-yKhDd64sThis is one of my own favorites. He wrote the lyrics after his 5-year stint with drug addiction therapy. It's actually quite mystical, with lines such as "take my hand", "you're not alone", "we'll face the storm together" and others to that effect. He's rapping to youngsters who're on drugs, in their own language, and the message is positive, helpful yet still powerful.
Eminem is now 38 years!! He was 2 hours short of death when somebody found him and rushed him to hospital. He had a tough journey, with relapses, of course. One of his albums is called Relapse. The winning album is "Recovery", in the rap category. I'm going to post more about him, with links, please don't throw stones at me, I know he's a highly controversial figure. But, later, more about a probable syndrome he might have, which has made him a genius at rhyming and scribbling non-stop.
Among his writer admirers:
•Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney. Famous for retelling that medieval dragon drama Beowulf, the Irish poet, 71, declared in 2003 that Eminem "created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around a generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude but also his verbal energy."
•The Last King of Scotland author Giles Foden. In 2001, the British novelist compared the rapper to Robert Browning and wrote, "A brief examination of (2000 single) Stan reveals it to have all the depth and texture of the greatest examples of English verse."
•Queen of the best sellers, Janet Evanovich. She discovered Eminem around 2000 thanks to her daughter Alex, who was a fan. "He's an incredibly talented rapper, and the videos matched the energy of the music perfectly."
Her fave: "I really like the Without Me video. The comic-book format is a hoot, and I love Eminem and Dr. Dre jamming out in the Batmobile."
How does Evanovich evaluate his lyrics? "I don't. I just enjoy."
The literary world has fallen for rockers before. From the start of his career, Bob Dylan had the lit-crit crowd in vapors, and Leonard Cohen, an admired poet and novelist before he warbled his first note, remains an eternal love object. Patti Smith's "Robert Mapplethorpe and me" memoir, Just Kids, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, having already scarfed up the National Book Award for non-fiction.
Eminem hasn't chosen a last name referencing Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, nor is he a senior luminary retiring into semi-respectability. He's a 38-year-old superstar leading this year's Grammy pack with 10 nominations stemming from 2010 album Recovery. (The awards show airs Feb. 13 on CBS, 8 p.m. ET/tape delay PT.) And as a white rapper dominating a primarily black genre, he carries racial baggage. As horror-meister Stephen King wrote in his Entertainment Weekly column: "I started off thinking Eminem was a flash in the pan, a kind of hip-hop Hanson brother. How wrong I was. Recovery is sometimes funny, sometimes terrible, always painfully honest. The matching of Eminem and Rihanna on Love the Way You Lie is pure genius."
King's Hanson dig recalls a tendency to attack Em's credibility for conquering a genre born in black culture. Is he the Elvis of rap?
Not so fast, cautions Adam Bradley, associate professor of English at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop. "It's unfair to say that Eminem is somehow a colonizer of hip-hop. Race was just one of the factors in rap."
It's also about poverty, something Eminem knows firsthand, says Bradley, a Ralph Ellison scholar who also teaches classes about hip-hop, an emerging academic field.
Eminem's use of multiple personas with different rhyme styles is his greatest contribution to hip-hop, he adds.
As Slim Shady, "there's comic, cartoonish violence, and the voice is savvy, self-destructive," Bradley says. As Eminem, he displays control. Lose Yourself, for example, "stays between 10 and 14 syllables per line ... this is a matter of conscious craft rather than happenstance."
And as Marshall Mathers: "This one is deeply emotional. You hear the love and self-hatred played out in his private and public struggles."
Most of all, Bradley stresses, rap is about verbal creativity, discipline and attention to language. "It's a robust, dense form of music that can result in transcendent poetry."
And scholarly attention. Eminem is analyzed in a new Yale University Press book, The Anthology of Rap, co-edited by Bradley and Andrew DuBois.
Eminem is, above all, a storyteller, says Marjorie Liu, 32, best-selling author of 15 paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels, as well as comic books.
"He is unflinching in the stories he tells and the dark places he goes," says Liu, a fan since 2002's Lose Yourself. "Not everyone has the courage to do that."
Liu often listens to Eminem when she writes, particularly if her characters are facing overwhelming odds. "His music instills a sense of stubbornness and determination."
She shrugs off the accusation that some of Eminem's lyrics are misogynistic. "Sometimes what people feel is ugly. ... Just because I don't want to hear the story he's telling, that doesn't make it any less interesting."
And the man does have lit cred. In 2002, he published Angry Blonde, which combined his lyrics and personal commentary. 2008 autobiography The Way I Am tells his life in words and photos.
It's on one fan's reading list, once she finishes Stephanie Plum mystery Smokin' Seventeen. Says Evanovich, "He fascinates me, and I love a success story."
I'll be back! HA. Syl***