Thursday, December 02, 2004

The funniest song EVER! (and other scattered thoughts on Eminem)

Lost control of the steering wheel and nearly ploughed into the nearest divider last evening, I was laughing so hard while listening to Eminem’s "Ass Like That" from his new album Encore. Has anyone heard this song? It is fucking (oops, * beep * beep) hilarious. The hip-hop refrain (with M&M’s buddies from the gangsta rap circuit, including Nate Dogg, 50 Cent etc, solemnly chanting, "Never seen an Ass Like That") is conventional enough, except that the background music has an Arabic flavour, with what I’ve always thought of as "harem chords". And the refrain is punctuated in three places by the hysterical rants of an Arab/possibly Asian gentleman being hounded by the police in the US. ("It wasn’t me, Meeester Offeecer" and such.) Eminem’s mimicry here is awesome. (It panders to every racial stereotype, but what the heck, it’s still awesome.)

Eminem is accused of being unpardonably offensive to women, blacks and gays (and other minorities). He is all of that -- in his songs at least; I have no clue what he’s like offstage - but something that isn’t much commented on is that at his best, Mr Mathers is offensive towards EVERYONE, not least himself. (Check the lyrics of his misogynistic songs to see the light in which he paints himself vis-a-vis his relationships with women.) This is absurdism on a grand scale and there’s a puerile side to me that loves it. His repertoire is a (very scatological, very profane) variation on that famous exchange from the early Brando film The Wild One. (Sweet, cotton-frocked Mary Jane: "What are you rebelling against?" Pouting, denim-clad, bike-straddling Marlon: "What’ve you got?")

Which is why I found it funny when various Bush-hating friends forwarded me the lyrics of Eminem’s Republican-bashing song "Mosh" last month. I think it’s ill-advised to hold him up as the mouthpiece for one’s own beliefs or causes, because he’s always liable to do an about-turn and leave you confounded. (I could be wrong in the specific context of his political beliefs of course - most musicians/performing artistes in the US are firmly with the Democrats, and very strong-minded about it.) In fact, this is one area where I think the comparisons with Bob Dylan are valid; Dylan went his own way throughout his varied career, repeatedly disillusioning fans/followers who thought they had him pigeonholed. (I was very amused by the cries of dismay when he appeared in the lingerie ad a few months ago; it was SO like the man to do something like that, and the fans’ reaction betrayed such naivette.)

Anyway, back to the funniest song ever. You’ll find Ass Like That lyrics on the Net, but not much point reading them; you have to hear the thing. Meanwhile, I’m considering writing an album review or two (have also bought U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, the car stereo is behaving and there’s finally something constructive to do during the two hours I spend on the road each day.)

1 comment:

  1. I'll look forward to the CD reviews. Your Eminem review was very amusing in its zabardast ambivalence.

    I've been hearing the lead single off the new U2 on the radio, and I have to admit, it sounds nice.