As a longtime Eminem fan, I do occasionally get annoyed with his limited subject-matter. Not line for line; line for line he sporadically jumps from almost every thought and topic imaginable, but in terms of solid song commitments, since The Eminem Show he’s been almost unbearably self-obsessed. And, as much as I love Recovery, I’m glad that the whole pill situation was the last significant chunk of life experience to turn into album material, as it now means he’ll be forced into complete ‘creation’ next time round. Not that Recovery didn’t have its fair share of that too, but, he’ll have to dig deeper now.
Anyway, because of this, I do sometimes have some ideas which I think Eminem could do as songs, in a sort of fantasy / wishful sense and, am almost frustrated it’ll never happen…
I do think that if he ever wants to top or match his holy trinity (The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show) that he’s going to need to think of truly inspired concepts and either produce himself or with the Bass Brothers (which he’s parted with, for some reason) – to get that real, melody-driven funk that laced his earlier records, the beats that were crafted around his flow.
So, this song idea, this is an idea I had a short while ago when I heard that there’s apparently an unreleased Elton John collaboration track in Em’s vault…
Imagine a storytelling song, in a similar vein to “Stan” whereby the main character is a young gay male, maybe… a middle-to-late teenager in age – a young gay male that is an Eminem fan. Stay with me, so – as an Eminem fan, this guy is also bullied and beaten at school, mainly for being gay but also just for being a guy that can’t fit in or connect. So, this could be perhaps where he relates to Eminem, in that, he struggles to fit in and relates to Eminem’s past as a bullied youth who struggled to be a part of the gang. But, also simply likes the lyricism and music itself, the love of art can be enough in itself.
Imagine that this guy, absolutely understands everything about Eminem’s music and therefore all of the irony and character(s) that comes along with it. He obviously understands that Eminem is not homophobic, yet, imagine that part of the reason he was getting bullied / beaten was BECAUSE of Eminem’s lyrics. Imagine that, the kids that were bullying him were also Eminem fans but did not understand Eminem’s lyrics properly, thought that Eminem was homophobic and were using the lyrics and their supposed icon as a slight justification. Maybe this could, be a sort of look back at the height of the controversy, around 2000 / 2001, and… a lot of these kids were angry, confused kids too who were simply misconstruing Eminem’s lyrics and using them as justification for hate…
Then imagine, this young gay male who is getting bullied because of all this, eventually has enough and kills himself. So, you have the backdrop, the story, now let me setup the actual structure a little bit. Let’s say it has at least three verses, in this instance we’ll say three (though it could easily have four), now – imagine that the first verse is Eminem rapping as himself, maybe summarizing the controversy and how he sees the reactions, maybe how he connects with troubled youth and so on. Then, verse two, he could get into character and become this young male, maybe altering his voice slightly to match or imply the tone of a late teen. So, the second verse is this young guy explaining the situation, his horror of a life and how he relates to Eminem’s music etc. then verse three, his mood becomes more extreme, he can’t take the horror any longer and thus commits suicide.
Then you’d have Elton John on the chorus and a production collaboration between Em and Elton. Ideally a dark, thudding, piano and strings beat (Elton on piano), something very fitting and theatrical.
You could also just make all of the verses the character and tell a complete story, without any personal interjection from Em, perhaps making it a little more powerful. It would all depend on the execution but, can you imagine how powerful that could be. I emphasize the word could as, the idea alone I think is solid but, with a fully extreme and dedicated execution by Eminem, and the right music, I think that it could top “Stan” and “Kim” and be a masterpiece in its own right.
Eminem has always created paradoxes in his music. Often purposely contradicting himself for the sake of provocation, then analyzing the provocation and laughing at it. As well as more direct paradoxes in the forms of concepts or actions as an artist. For example, him performing with Elton John at the Grammys, as a retort to the GLAAD protesters. Or more recently, the use of Rihanna on the chorus of “Love the Way You Lie”. A lot of people missing the point of that action, thinking he had sold out for using such an obvious pop star but not realizing the fact, he quite obviously used her as she was a very public victim of domestic violence. And the song is about? domestic violence. It’s a very real portrayal of it in fact, and given his history too, it makes her singing the chorus of it all the more powerful and resonant.
So in this song, you would have some very uneasy paradoxes. It would almost be a ‘Stan 2’ in terms of its point as a piece of art as, it would almost be like an answer to dumb gay people who simply don’t understand his lyrics and / or have simply listened to other gay people who have said he’s homophobic, and just accepted that he is, without individual analysis or understanding. Ironically, acting in a mindset mirroring the very thing they assume that they’re protesting and are disgusted at – prejudice, ignorance. Much in the same way “Stan” was an artistic response to those who took his violent and supposedly destructive lyricism as literal…
I think it would be more powerful than that though as, it’s a different angle, an angle that is even less easy to swallow. With “Stan”, you have a guy who is taking Eminem’s lyrics and supposed thoughts to heart, relating to the anger and living the fantasy out after a lack of response from his hero. With this, you would have a young victim, a young gay victim that – understands Eminem’s lyrics, in a healthy, mature way and is yet victimized and tortured by people who do not, but think they do. And as a result of this torture, he takes his own life. So he would be taking his own life, not due to Eminem’s lyrics – which would be an obvious route for some, but rather, as a direct result of people who DO NOT get Eminem’s lyrics. I think that would be a very clever way of Eminem showing it’s ignorance of his lyrics that can potentially inspire dangerous people, not the lyrics themselves.
You also have the fact, the main character would be gay and a fan of Eminem. Which for many gay people who do not understand Eminem, would in itself seem odd and would probably force them to re-examine the point of Eminem’s music and how that would be possible, given their perception of it and him as an artist. It would also imply (if they listened to it) that they are in-fact the same as the idiots bullying / beating this young gay male as, just like them – they misunderstand Eminem’s lyrics concerning gay people as directly homophobic. So they are in-effect, exercising the same ignorance and part of the problem. Again, not easy to swallow. You’d then have Elton John, the most openly gay artist on the planet singing the chorus, again making it chilling, haunting and resonant in deeper ways than words alone can imply.
I really do think with the right execution this could be an intelligent, spine-chilling, historic song. And so much more could be said about it, but I’ll leave it there for now.
I’m almost annoyed that I’m not in Eminem’s position so that I could create this myself ha ha. There is so many ideas, concepts and ways he could amplify or better what he has done in the past, I really don’t think he’s thinking big enough and given his sheer amount of talent, it’s pretty frustrating. I’ll write one of these posts anytime I have the odd good song idea I think is worth mentioning. For now though, let’s wait to see what Shady brings for 2011. Thanks for reading.