Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: How Eminems Music Took Hip-Hop to New Places, Spaces and Faces

The first I heard of Eminem’s music was “The Slim Shady LP.” My boy Rod was excited about it and said, “You gotta hear this!” so I took his advice. But before I put in the cassette, I studied the cover art, and those accompanying images were dark — particularly the illustration of the dead body sticking out of the trunk of a car. I remember thinking, What the heck am I about to hear?!

Upon first listen, I jumped around, checking out songs like “’97 Bonnie & Clyde” (during which his Slim Shady alter-ego talks to Eminem’s real-life, then-5-year-old daughter Hailie while driving to a pier to dump her mother’s corpse in the water), “Just Don’t Give a Fuck” (Em disses fellow white rappers Vanilla Ice, Everlast and Miiilkbone) and skits like “Ken Kaniff.” 

I knew from the jump that this cat was different because of what and how he was rapping. But after I saw how the first single, “My Name Is,” was rolled out — with an attention-grabbing music video that had the rapper imitating President Bill Clinton, Johnny Carson and a porn star — I figured he would be big. Of course, he ended up being massive!

In hip-hop, those who care can hear when it’s live — i.e., when it’s real or when it’s created in a studio — and the way Eminem was rapping, you knew the talent was authentic. Also, he showed the masses his authentic point of view from a middle America, white-male perspective. Look at the previous Rock Hall hip-hop inductees like Jay-Z, LL Cool J and N.W.A. — all are from New York City or L.A. with the majority being from the East Coast. One could easily make the argument that Eminem’s music took hip hop to new places and spaces that it may not have been played previously and opened up the genre to even more people. With respect to the legends who came before him, those who brought the bars, the beat, the DJs, the graffiti, Eminem took this in-your-face art form to the next level.

But Em is more than a rap star. With his notoriety, mystique and tens of millions of fans, he is also a rock star, and yes, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Rock and roll and hip-hop are cousins that share a lot of the same rebellious, disruptive, raw and authentic traits. Eminem is all of that and more.

Gray Rizzy can be heard on SiriusXM Shade 45.

Catch the complete Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2022 Induction Ceremony on HBO Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. ET, along with a simulcast on SiriusXM’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Radio (channel 310). SiriusXM listeners can also catch live, backstage coverage and commentary on Volume on the SXM app and on Faction Talk (channel 103).

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