Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Growing old is mandatory..."

“…growing up is optional.” – Chili Davis

Why would I begin this piece with a quote from a former MLB slugger if not for the fact that it perfectly punctuates the lesson I’ve learned in the wake of the release of Eminem’s new single, “We Made You”. At first, the song made me cringe. Why, I wondered, would Eminem put out this obnoxious track to kick-start his presumed come-back to entertainment? It all came to me the following weekend at a friend’s house.

My friend’s fourteen-year-old brother was blasting this track from his room. I wasn’t too surprised, since he’s an adamant follower of radio-rap; nonetheless, I wanted to get the inside scoop on what the kids think about music these days. And then it dawned on me! Therein lies the issue at hand: why had I just used the word “kids”? Responding to my inquiry, my friend’s little bro simply bopped his shoulders and muttered “I dunno, ‘cause I like it”. I probably would have said the same thing when The Eminem Show dropped in 2003, back when I myself was a mere fourteen-year-old, back when my mom couldn’t understand this “phase” either.

I had first heard of Eminem in 1999, when he released “My Name Is”, the second single from The Slim Shady LP. I was only eleven-years-old at the time, green behind the ears, devoid of (most) corrupt thoughts. This was all until I reveled in a fantasy world in which someone might smack a teacher with an eraser, chase him with a stapler, and staple his nuts to a stack of papers. I’m paraphrasing here! When The Marshall Mathers LP came out, I was an enthusiast. When The Eminem Show was released, I was a fanatic. To me, Eminem’s music was a rare – and revolutionary – breed of quirkiness, immaturity, profundity, violence, and vulgarity. But perhaps most explicitly, it was comical. Truly, Eminem was destined to make an impact on the generation of baby-boomer-babies. And he opened up the genre of hip hop to a broad spectrum of kids. I had grown up on a steady diet of rock (The Beatles, mostly), jazz and Motown classics (like Em’, my dad hails from the D). I had only listened to hip hop in spurts throughout my childhood, by commercial artists like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Tupac, Biggie, Puff Daddy, Ma$e, Montell Jordan, Coolio and… maybe just a handful of others. That’s it. Though I hate to admit it, The Marshall Mathers LP was the first hip hop album I heard in full. That’s how important his music was back then.

Where am I going with this? I bring this all up to show the gap between the “then” and the “now”. Since the late-‘90’s, I’ve dived into hip hop culture, listening to records that would have left my fourteen-year-old self clueless and, perhaps, dumbstruck. Back then, I was bored by the dusty, raw sounds of ‘80’s-era hip hop. Nowadays, I mourn its loss.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that my taste in music has not only grown up, but grown old as well. I’ve felt the very fate that fans of Hannah Montana/Jonas Brothers/you-name-it-Disney-manufactured-pop-act are bound to experience. At one point, the childishness must stop. Eminem’s new music is made with the intent of reaching the old-me’s – and by that I mean the younger-me’s – of contemporary 2009. But I’ve grown old. It was mandatory. Eminem’s music, on the other hand, hasn’t grown up. Grow up, Marshall! For us, the original fans!


  1. Truer Words never spoken,or bloggedened??!!!

  2. REAL TALK. great post. I feel bad for todays 14 year old kids who have to get turned on to rap from this song though...yes its "quiirky" but it doesn't hold a candle to his other quirky pop culture signals.

    but who knows, maybe im just old.

  3. ****singles...not signals...jesus.

  4. you just blew my fucking mind.

  5. ^ Say word?

    Thanks for the kind reception on this piece, er'body! :D

  6. So i guess you agree with Bill o'Reilly

  7. Yes and no. Let's put it that way.

  8. Well put Ivan, u da man!

  9. GZA still whack tho... lol

  10. ^ Aw, c'mon now. GZA is one of the illest lyricists in the game. You may not like his voice, delivery or beat-selection. But you've gotta give it up to his pen-and-pad skills.

  11. "GZA still whack tho"

    Oh JESUS, this made me lol

    great post Ivan.

  12. *tries nah right commenting style*

    Pro Tools >...

    *daps Mo Money*

    Real talk; Ivan is spot on with this post> I feel the single is a 'radio mainstream' every kid can chant along to it. Reminds me of a 'naughty' high-5/(whatever the kids watch)jingle, with a funky video clip that's not to heavy but would make a 13 y/o heart race over lisa ann


    Ivan where did you get the Em stencil artwork from, you had a similar style artwork previously for I think "Issac Hayes", I followed the image link to a website, they had a full gallery, but have since lost the link :(


  13. Since we're talking about GZA, I think a Jay-Z quote is in order, "Just because you don't understand him don't mean he's nice / It just means you don't know all the bullshit that he writes"

  14. @ Raida: Thanks. Where you at these days!?

    @ Moose: All I do for those caricature photos in Google "Eminem caricature". That's it! With Google's new image color filter, it's even easier! I just select white, and voila... a gallery of caricatures.

    @ Anon: That line was directed at Nas, and I happen to think that both he and GZA are two of the greatest emcees in the game.

  15. I was already 27 when I first heard Shady (been a hip hop fan since parachute pants) and this rant still rings true for me.

  16. @Ivan nothing but propz for your inlay of the new style rap game!....
    It's so commercial but the album must have some hidden gem?!, don't ya think?

    PS. where did that GZA comment came for?
    GZA at to commercial rappers~
    "lots of money, but no talent."

  17. dude GZA and Nas are on the same boat. Tell me what the hell does this mean:
    "Jesus died at age 33, there's thirty-three shots
    from twin glocks there's sixteen apiece, that's thirty-two
    Which means, one of my guns was holdin 17
    Twenty-seven hit your crew, six went into you"

    I could quote a whole bunch of lines that make you wonder what these dudes was smoking. IMO Nas is still better than GZA....GZA has no flow, no sense of beat selection etc etc

  18. ^ How can you not like those Nas bars? 33 shots for each year of Jesus' life?

  19. Some of you rap fans need to be slapped. GZA would lyrical eat you. And I wonder who Jay-Z looks up to?

    I stopped listening to Em after that My Name Is crap. His first video, I Just Don't Give A Fuck was more like it. Em was doin rounds in Jersey and NY, puttin in work. Then he bleached his hair and got all MTV on me. FAIL YOU FAKE.

  20. i hate the song. i hate the video. and i, too, am wondering wtf... grow up em.

    love the post.

  21. most of you cats don't know this but your hanging from gza's dick. no money havin' ass niggas.

  22. That was a good post. This is exactly how I feel about Eminem now. You have depth, man!

  23. My car battery died and I never had the radio code so literally for 2 years vie had no music in my car lol, and every time I would turn on the radio in my moms car all I would here was such complete garbage. Like ita not even music anymore its random words and annoying tpain sounds.

    I guess this new generation is so dumbed down that songs don't even need to make sense anymore, like when em says random ass lyrics that don't rhyme lol

    It's funny though even my friends 25 or so were saying yeah he's good look at how angry he sounds like wtfff lmao

    Anyway long story Short I still haven't fixed my radio haha