Monday, March 26, 2007

Rap Song Mondays- Eminem "Lose Yourself"

I have to admit that I’m not the biggest Eminem fan. I understand that in the music world he’s like the second coming of Christ, and I won’t deny his rapping abilities because they are spot on, but most of songs fail to connect with me. His joke songs like “My Name Is”, “The Real Slim Shady” and “Without Me” are funny the first time you hear them, but after listening to them hundreds of time on the radio, they begin to lose their appeal. I find his ultra-personal songs like “The Way That I Am” and “Cleaning Out My Closet” way too personal for me to even begin to understand. The only ones I can listen to are “Guilty Conscious” (an amazing collaboration with Dr. Dre), “Superman” and “Stan” (which I rediscovered over this summer and am still in awe of its brilliance), but even those I can only play once in awhile. There is, however, one Eminem song that I can hear over and over again without getting tired of and that’s his Oscar-winning “Lose Yourself.”

While it is definitely a personal song, it’s not in the psycho-mom-Kim’s-a-bitch style that we’re accustomed to hearing. Instead, it was written for the semi-autobiographical character of Rabbit that Eminem played in 8 Mile. In relating to the struggles of Rabbit in “Lose Yourself,” we actually catch a glimpse of what it must have been like for Eminem to grow up as poor white trash in Detroit.

No song that I can think of captures the feelings of failure and desperation as expertly or innovatively as Eminem does in this song. We feel it in everything from his lyrics to his tightly controlled delivery and flow. Rabbit/Eminem knows he is a good rapper and can come up with great rhymes, but his nerves seem to get the best of him. They are so bad that “there’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti.” When this shot passes him by, he is upset that he missed what could be his only opportunity to make it out of the shitty life he can’t escape. This sense of desperation builds over the second verse and by the third, it has all but spilled over. The rhymes keep coming faster and faster as Eminem’s voice get harsher, accentuating downbeats and almost maniacally rushing all the words together so that we feel the tension rising in Rabbit as he gets on stage to rap again.

If you have ever doubted that a rapper can emote feelings in the same manner that Jennifer Hudson or Judy Garland can, seriously listen to this song and tell me it’s not a performance unto itself. “Lose Yourself” is the epitome of what rap can be, and what it should be, and if we had more of this type of song instead of fucking “Laffy Taffy Girl” or whatever shit is on the radio, rap would get a much better name.

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