This is the year when the zodiac has decided to use its celestial clout to shower more riches upon Eminem and his alter-ego, Slim Shady, as if they really need the break.
Some people know this musical juggernaut by the stuffy long-winded name, Marshall Bruce Mathers III, a name obviously chosen by his father, Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr, even though this so-called father abandoned family shortly after his son’s birth.
Hardly able to rap out of the womb, M&M would develop his lyrical skills primarily in Warren, Michigan, where he gained an underground hip-hop following owing to his after-school freestyle face offs.
In other words, his efforts to stay away from home and avoid the treacheries of his mother for as long as possible amounted to nothing less than the nurturing of what would later be recognized worldwide as a supreme talent, a lyrical seamster.
But back then in Warren he was still just another student lost in the neverending sea of students, that is, until the age of seventeen, when Marshall failed the ninth grade because of truancy and decided it best to drop out of Lincoln High School instead of repeat his freshman year. To afford this freedom, he held a minimum wage job in a restaurant washing dishes and cooking, in other words, getting grittier.
I’m not sure what was going on in the young superstar’s mind at this turbulent time in his life, when the soon-to-be giant was nothing more than an awkward teenager doing menial kitchen chores for pay. How did he make the decision to renounce the beaten path of education and follow his dream? What omen did he glimpse in the heavens, or in the sink suds?
Maybe it was more obvious than that, like the pair of glittery red high heels hanging from the telephone wire on his final walk to the classroom, or did a Dre-like mentor jump out of the bush and offer him advice – You gotta follow your passion, Marshall, you gotta do what feels right in your heart – and take him by the hand to the gold streets of El Dorado?
Regardless of his motives and influences, he emerged from the kitchen poised to be one of the most popular rappers of all time. But he would always carry grit with him, he would never quite manage to clean himself of the grit and grime of the kitchen.
This year, ten years after the release of The Slim Shady LP, which, to date, over nine million people have consumed, Eminem has come out of hiding prepared to battle the two-faced glory of the limelight with his new album, Relapse. For a taste of what his first officially released song on Relapse sounds like, give this video a listen:
In its first week, Crack A Bottle, the much-anticipated comeback single featuring Dr Dre and 50 Cent, set the record for most online copies sold at 418,000. This number towers over the previous record holder, namely, TI’s Live Your Life, at 335,000.
Crack A Bottle not only holds the record for first-week online debut, but already sits third behind Lady GaGa’s Just Dance and Flo Rida’s Low as the most downloaded single ever. It’s just too easy for this ninth grade dropout. He’s like the Thomas Pynchon of hip-hop, biding his time until the market swells with an unbearable demand for his so-called creative output. Then, when his fanbase cannot bear the water weight any longer, he bursts onto the media’s platform, relieves the market’s tension, and reaps profit.
To put things into perspective, Marshall Bruce Mathers III’s previous release, Encore, was in 2004. That was the last we heard from our wordsmith until this year, 2009, when Eminem knows the zodiac is on his side. He storms onto the music scene and the Red Sea of superstars, unlike the sea of students in Lincoln High School, parts to make room for his passage:
Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. In this corner, weighing 175 lbs with a record of 17 rapes, 400 assaults, and 4 murders, the undisputed, most diabolical villain in the world… Slim Shady!
These are the words that kick off Crack A Bottle. Nothing insightful about them, no creativity to speak of, and nothing good in the most basic sense of the word. But, like with Brian Dettmer and his book autopsies, the market has spoken loud and clear.