First Night: Taking the rap for joyful obscenities

Eminem Astoria London
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The Independent Online
THOUGH DOUBTLESS most children dream of suing their parents, 24-year-old rapper Marshall Mathers' mum is taking him to court after taking offence over the line in his huge hit "My Name Is" that runs "99 per cent of my life I've been lied to, I've just found out my ma does more drugs than I do".

No wonder Mathers aka Eminem aka Slim Shady has become the biggest rapper in America right now, his hilariously tasteless rhymes about his dysfunctional background proving the old cliche of how you have to laugh or else you'd cry. Hip hop can now be regarded as America's music, currently the biggest selling form there, rendering arguments over Mathers' lineage increasingly irrelevant. (He's white, incidentally, though he's signed to the label of Dr Dre, founder of the incendiary Niggas With Attitude.)

His multi-million sellingSlim Shady album lovingly skewers stereotypes and his description of his music as "the South Park of rap" is spot on, as he gleefully offends self-appointed moral guardians with ludicrous raps like "Role Model" and "Guilty Conscience". However, a man used to headlining huge arenas at home can hardly be prepared for this relatively tiny venue.

The crowd seem more awed than enthusiastic. Live hip hop is as much about anticipation as the music. and it takes the hilarious next single "Role Model" with its knowing chant "Don't you wanna grow up to be just like me?" to set the place buzzing.

Teenage transgression gets its chance as the ladies shout "F... you asshole" in response to the fellas' "F... you bitch". The bearded man in a hat (the hat industry has surely been saved by hip hop fashion) who stands around at stage side appears in a psychedelic dressing gown to provide visual accompaniment to "My Fault", Mathers magic mushroom tribute and quite possibly the funniest drug song ever written. "My Name Is" is joyfully obscene, and the encore of "Guilty Conscience" and the gloomy "World Keeps Turning" are fine, but to hear the true twisted voice of Slim Shady, then the album is a better, clearer bet.

Honestly, what can you say about this undeniable entertainment? Well, "Just Don't Give A F..." wasn't as good as the brooding "Still Don't Give A F...". It was that sort of night.