Pop: This Week's big noise - Eminem

EMINEM The Slim Shady LP Interscope
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The Independent Culture
IN ALMOST every respect, Eminem is your typical rapper: he's obsessed with sex, drugs and violence, bereft of redeeming social value, his albums are Parental Advisory-stickered for their explicit content, while his live shows incite anger not through their content, but for lasting a mere five or six numbers.

Just about the only respect in which he differs from most other rappers is in being white, a factor which has perhaps led America's more vociferous moral guardians to assume he appeals to the middle-class white kids more than his black colleagues. Why else would they make such a fuss and bother about The Slim Shady LP, an album which features much the same blend of fabulist outrage freely available at any self-respecting rap retailer? But fuss they do: indeed, rather than celebrating an industry success- story in its usual manner, venerable trade mag Billboard ran a full-page editorial denouncing Eminem's album, a step I don't recall it taking with NWA, Cypress Hill or even Ice-T during the notorious "Cop Killer" brouhaha.

By his own standards, Eminem - real name Marshall Mathers - has already been a huge success. As he admits on the hit single "My Name Is", "God sent me to piss the world off". Not that he's particularly affected by the widespread condemnation: "If I had one wish," he claims a little later, "I'd wish for a big enough ass for the whole world to kiss". What a lovely bloke! The Slim Shady LP is his kiss-off to the world, a non-stop litany of crime and misdemeanour in which his alter-ego, Slim Shady, brags of his sex and drug habits, watches as his girlfriend overdoses on mushrooms, recounts how his teachers thought he suffered from brain damage, and generally walks the finest of lines between comedy and surgery.

One track in particular, "97 Bonnie & Clyde" - depicted on the front cover - has aroused fury for its account of how he killed his daughter's mother and, accompanied by the daughter, dumped mom's body in the sea.

It's not the murder that seems to bother people, but the presence of the child in the story; the next thing you know, Slim will be giving her unfettered access to his violent video collection! Entertaining enough in small doses, his appeal wears off rapidly.

There's no depth or resonance to his scattershot scenarios, which never rise above the cartoonish. And, for all his undoubted verbal facility, he lacks the imagination with which Tex Avery and Chuck Jones made cartoon violence entertaining. The Slim Shady LP is a rap equivalent of Scooby- Doo: badly-drawn and all too predictable.