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Posted at 01:14 PM ET, 10/17/2011

Happy Birthday Eminem, but in 1999 you were just a ‘clever enough wordsmith’

Thirty-nine years ago today, celebrated rapper, record producer, songwriter and actor Eminem was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III in St. Joseph, Mo.


Eminem performs at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. (SUZANNE PLUNKETT - AP)
Only later would Eminem move to Detroit, where his free-style battles were the formative experiences that led to provocative lyrics heard ‘round the world and the title “The King of Hip Hop.”

When Eminem first burst on to the scene in 1999, with a “Can I have the attention of the class for one second?” he surely got it. The Post’s Richard Harrington had this to say in February 1999:

His name is Eminem and he's MTV's newest darling, thanks to a hilarious genre-parody video for the insinuating "My Name Is . . .," which includes lines such as "My brain's dead weight, I'm trying to get my head straight/ But I can't figure out which Spice Girl I want to impregnate."

Welcome to the wild, wacky world of Marshall Mathers (hence the M&M variation). .. Eminem's psychotic ramblings and outrageous scenarios, as well as a distinctive radio-friendly flow that favors rapid rhymes, also conjure the whining of Cypress Hill, the narratives of Slick Rick and the raunch of Redman...

Eminem clearly has a way with words, and an instinct for both the jugular and the jocular... [but] the problem with "The Slim Shady LP" is that many of its underlying tracks sound the same and there's just not much variety in Eminem's delivery. He's a clever enough wordsmith, with some intensive rhyme structures, and he's clearly got the over-the-top personality crucial to rap, but what sounds distinctive in "My Name Is . . ." wears thin after six or seven similar ventures.

The Post apparently never warmed up to Mr. Slim Shady.

In 2005, the Post’s Sarah Godfrey wrote in a review of a posthumous album for rapper Tupac of which Eminem was a part:

Eminem's repertoire of sounds is limited: merry-go-round-music-on-methamphetamines for silly, jovial songs and dark, repetitive orchestral crescendos over steady, monotone beats for pensive ones.

And last year, when Eminem came out with his latest album “Recovery,” the Post’s Sean Fennessey wrote:

His latest album... initially billed as a sequel to "Relapse," is meant to be a corrective, with emotional purges and a whirring recommitment to the vision of Eminem, superstar and rap genius. But transparency isn't art, nor will it make Eminem 25 again."Recovery" is a morose picture of an artist grappling, and often losing his grip.

By  |  01:14 PM ET, 10/17/2011

Tags:  National, Eminem, birthdays

 
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