When I put this list together, there were some albums I had to leave out. There are too many classics, but these are the 5 that personally shaped me. For day 4, I want to delve into the Marshall Mathers LP, by Eminem.
Eminem was already a household name before this album, due to the success of his dark, sometimes overlooked first album. Yet in the spring of 2000, this release meant more. It catapulted Slim Shady into another stratosphere. Like it’s predecessor, this too had a goofy type of first single. The Real Slim Shady blew up the airwaves and made the great white hope MTV friendly. It was only a surface-level description of what the Marshall Mathers LP truly was. A funny, scathing, dark, aggressive point of view, from an artist who needed an outlet. So much so, the GLAAD protested him. In the end, maybe they missed the point. Much like the detractors for Dave Chappelle. You can’t censor art, or try and interpret it to suit your argument. It has never worked that way.
My personal, favorite song on the album, is the second single, The Way I am. Em vents his frustrations about fame and takes to task the people who blame him and artists like Marilyn Manson for the world’s ills. All while basically rhyming every word of the song. It was quite a contrast from the playful nature of The Real Slim Shady. That’s the brilliance of this album. It never stayed in one direction. Dr. Dre was at his finest with the production. This was like The Slim Shady Lp on steroids.
With comical cuts like Criminal, bangers like Bitch Please II, and vicious love letters like Kim, there was no topic Marshall Mathers couldn’t convey. Maybe nothing was more potent from a songwriting standpoint than Stan. Em’s tale of an obsessed fan, which later became an adjective in hip hop discussions. This led to Elton John performing the chorus at the Grammys, which was a huge statement to the naysayers. The obscenities, unfiltered nature, would never fly today. Eminem would cause people to cry if this was released today. Yet it was never for shock value. Peeling back the layers shows a brilliant lyricist with no apologies. The summer of 2000 will forever be etched in time, nostalgia overload. All because of a white kid who reached for some hair dye and a white tee.