What Millennials Should Know About… Eminem’s ‘The Slim Shady LP’


| August 5, 2014 - 6:01 pm

VIBE spotlights some of music’s most essential timepieces for Gen Y to get hip to

EMINEM The Slim Shady LP (1999) Most Slept On: -“Rock Bottom” Long before Eminem became a superstar, he was down with The Outsidaz, a loose coalition of underground backpack rappers based in Newark, New Jersey. (Their headquarters, The Outhouse, still has his graffiti scrawls and tags from his days spent free-styling and recording with the crew). “Rock Bottom” is a head-nod to his Jersey-influences. It’s a subtle track with poignant lyrics about loss and his delivery is reminiscent of mid 90s Jersey-based hip-hop acts like The Fugees. Because this track wasn’t produced by Dr. Dre and doesn’t have his signature sound, “Rock Bottom” didn’t get the same attention as the other cuts on this classic LP. But his concrete description of hopelessness and depression is striking.

Lines Best For Status Updates [If You’re Having An Exceptionally Bad Day Or You Just Want To Give Off A Very Disturbed Vibe] – “Life is like a big obstacle put in front of your optical to slow you down/And every time you think you’ve gotten past it/it’s gonna come back around” (“If I Had”) – “These are the results/of a thousand electric bolts/a kid who refused to respect adults” (“Brain Damage”) -“All my life/I was very deprived/I ain’t had a woman in years/My palms too hairy to hide” (“My Name Is”) -“Tired of not driving a BM/Tired of not working at GM/Tired of wanting to be him/Tired of not sleeping without a Tylenol PM” (“If I Had”) -“Now follow me and do exactly what you see/Don’t you want to grow up to be just like me?” (“Role Model”) -“I’m about as normal as Norman Bates/With deformative traits/a premature birth that was four minutes late” (“Role Model”) -“Minimum wage got my adrenaline caged/Full of venom and rage/especially when I’m engaged/And my daughter’s down to her last diaper/it’s got my ass hyper/I pray that God answers/maybe I’ll ask nicer” (“Rock Bottom”) -“Watching ballers while they’re flossing in their Pathfinders/These overnight stars becoming autograph-signers/We all long to blow up and leave the past behind us” (“Rock Bottom”) Bet You Didn’t Know: On the album, there’s a skit called “Bitch.” A chick with a Valley Girl accent is leaving a voicemail for a friend after listening to Eminem’s then-unreleased album: “It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life,” she says. The voicemail made its way to Eminem’s team. And they paid her $300 to put it on the album. She really didn’t need the money. The girl turned out to be Zoe Winkler. Her father is Henry Winkler, an actor best known for his role as ‘The Fonz’ on Happy Days. Bet You (Also) Didn’t Know: Eminem’s childhood bully, DeAngelo Bailey, sued Eminem for rapping about the abuse on the song “Brain Damage.” The suit was dismissed. And the judge, Honorable Deborah Servitto, decided to issue her verdict in rhyme: “Mr. Bailey complains that his rep is trash/So he’s seeking compensation in the form of cash/Bailey thinks he’s entitled to some monetary gain/Because Eminem used his name in vain/the lyrics are stories no-one would take as fact/They’re an exaggeration of a childish act/It is therefore this court’s ultimate position/That Eminem is entitled to summary disposition.” Synopsis: The fact that Eminem was able to have a long and storied career after an album as raw as this one is a testament to his talent. The Slim Shady LP was recorded almost entirely for shock value and it could have very easily been a grand-opening/grand-closing situation. He leans heavily on defending his Otherness. He’s white, he’s poor, he’s from the Midwest—his every insecurity is itemized and detailed, as if he’s explaining exactly why he should never make it big. And of course, that level of honesty, coupled with his rhyme skills and his production blessings from Dr. Dre, helped boost him to the exact heights he doubted on this album that he’d ever reach. Nowhere on this album does Eminem do what rappers have done since day one: Boast. He grumbles about being overlooked and being jealous of others with more success. But he never pokes his chest out and proclaims himself the best—or even just plain good. Maybe the great ones never do.
Aliya S. King’s is the author of two novels and three non-fiction books, including the New York Times Bestseller, Keep The Faith, with recording artist Faith Evans. She had written for VIBE since 1998. Find her at aliyasking.com and @aliyasking. You can also cop Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP on iTunes here.