We could have stopped caring years ago. Somewhere between Encore (2004) and Relapse (2009), our memory would’ve waned to the point where Em didn’t really matter anymore. Yet, in 2013, it’s been confirmed that a full-length album will be released post-Memorial Day along with some tour dates, and we’re still hella pumped.
Maybe it’s the fact that watching Eminem’s career is like watching a character on a really good television show grow and develop. His story has an arc that’s been playing itself out from album to album and we keep waiting to see what the next cliffhanger will be. Even his album titles have a semblance of a through-line. There are probably a million unique reasons why people are either thrilled or annoyed Eminem’s making another comeback, but here are a few points about why we fall into the former.
He Grows From His Criticism
Early on in his career, Em felt the heat for the way he spoke about his now ex-wife Kimberly Scott and his own mother. More specifically, the way he vividly described violence against and disdain for these women in his early releases rightfully sparked a wave of negative attention from critics. Between the shocking lyrics and terrifying threats, he became the pinnacle of whiteboyrage, which made him oddly popular among and the recipient of misguided fanaticism from angrywhiteboys.
Since then, the “’97 Bonnie and Clyde” MC has admitted regret for the way he’s approached the topic, while responding to the controversy through lyrics in some of his most popular and introspective songs. In “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” he dives deep into his early life and gives perspective on the troubled relationship with his parents.
Even activism against homophobic slurs used in his music have led to Eminem showing up at the Grammys with now-friend Elton John in tow for a sick performance of his song “Stan.” Since then, he’s come out in support of gay marriage and should probably have Frank Ocean guest on a track just to keep the ball rolling/fulfill all of our dreams.
He’s Funny As Hell
Eminem is always pretty topical when it comes to what’s happening in pop culture and is never one to avoid a good jibe at a famous personality. While some of his feuds and disses get taken a little too far (think the Michael Jackson impersonation in the “Just Lose It” video), he’s never afraid to keep his lyrics a bit light and humorously mischievous. And it’s not like we’ve ever forgotten the brilliance that is D12’s “My Band” and his “salsa dancing at the end of the clip.
It’s Eminem’s storytelling ability that makes him as controversial as it makes him unique and revered. The way he can perfectly describe a scene or slip in-and-out of characters has kept him an engaging addition to the Top 40 charts and is what made him so widely respected in the first place.
“Stan,” a song told in letters from an obsessed fan, goes above and beyond complexity levels with its discussion of the influence of celebrities over the people who idolize them. When a boy finds solace in the MC’s lyrics, he takes them literally and reenacts the aforementioned “’97 Bonnie and Clyde” scenario when his idol is too late to respond. Not only is Eminem dealing with the intensity of his own fame, but he’s responding to the positive and very often misunderstood response to the violence in his lyrics.
That Time He Won an Oscar
Remember that? We do. Barbra Streisand presenting the award of Best Original Song to the first rap song to win in said category is pretty surreal.
He Always Knew We Could Never Last Too Long Without Him
The lyrics in “Without Me” say it best. The rap game always feels a little empty without him.