In July of this year the rapper Eminem, real name Marshall Mathers, will take to the stage of London’s Wembley Stadium to be greeted by the adoring screams and applause of thousands of fans who will, undoubtedly, cry and recite all of his impossibly fast paced rhymes in perfect unison.
At an average price of £98 a ticket no one can doubt the loyalty of these fans. After all, a ticket for the V Music Festival in August costs on average £250 and that covers 50 music artists in total. So to pay £98 to see one artist seems rather extreme and surely speaks to the strong popularity of that artist.
Why though is Eminem so popular? After all he is part of a genre that is often scorned by older generations; rap. And yet I’m sure if you asked the average 45 year old on the street who Eminem was they would be able to give you a basic overview. His reputation has transcended his genre. Some may argue that this is because of his place as a white rapper in a predominantly African-American genre but this is because Eminem, especially in the recent years, has become the face of rap; the face that people equate with the genre. Not simply a member but a leader.
At the age of 41 Eminem is one of the best selling artists of our generation. His latest studio album Marshall Mathers LP 2 sold over 3 million copies worldwide becoming the most successful album he has ever released. Despite the waning popularity of his early albums, Eminem, is stronger and more popular than ever before. Alongside the likes of Madonna, Britney Spears and Beyonce, Eminem has become not simply an artist but an icon.
However he is not without his own controversy. With admissions of drug abuse and domestic violence Eminem has also built himself up a reputation as an angry and violent individual who many consider a negative role model for his younger audience. One may ask therefore is being an icon the same as being a role model? Not at all. All of the ‘Greats’ of music have had some personal issues that have affected their reputation. Johnny Cash had a severe drug addiction, as did the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley was rumoured to have paedophilic tendencies. Yet all of these have somehow managed to overstep their personal demons and create music that is considered legendary.
Eminem’s talent lies within the fact that he uses these personal demons to help him create his music. For those familiar with his music you will be aware that his songs predominantly focuses upon his own relationships; namely those with his ex-wife, daughter and mother. His music is designed for more than to provide pleasure it is to provide an insight into his life’s story. His lyrics read more like a diary entry than a song for the masses.
This is why Eminem is so popular. His fans, through listening to his music, feel a connection to him as a person not just as an artist. His songs are so personal it almost feels an intrusion to listen to them. Some go so far as to liken Eminem to a poet. True, his presentation method may be different to that of Keats or Wordsworth but his intention is the same; to use his literary talent to express his inner feelings and emotions.
Time will tell as to whether Eminem will come to be known as a music legend. Perhaps in ten years his fame will have sizzled out completely and he will be remembered as an ageing rapper who tried desperately to hold onto his moment of fame. Then again it could be that our children still listen to his music in twenty years considering his timelessness. Opinion may be divided over Eminem but one thing is for sure; love him or hate him the man known as Marshall Mathers has a legacy which will endure through the ages.