In McCrillis). For this reason, many people have worked tirelessly to restrict the sort of verbal hate crimes that Eminem commits against women, homosexuals and anyone else he desires.
As Allan Bloom's book, the Closing of the American Mind notes, "Nothing is more singular about this generation than its addiction to music. This is the age of music and the states of soul that accompany it" (qtd. In Eby). When one then looks back to one of the most popular artists of this generation, Eminem's, lyrics, this becomes increasingly disturbing. His lyrics are consistently filled with explicit sexual material, violence, hate, and offensive language. (See Table 1.)
Eminem's Influence on Today's Youth:
Although some argue that Eminem is merely expressing the socioeconomic angst common to the ghetto, and that it is his right to free speech he is exercising, certain effects, on today's youth, simply cannot be ignored. Eminem's caustic lyrics alter the perceived social values in the hip hop generation, which some believe is leading to a decline of Western civilization.
Table 1. Lyrical Content Analysis of 4 Eminem Albums (Source: Armstrong)
The Slim Shady LP
The Marshall Mathers LP
The Eminem Show
Murder Rape & Murder
The Slim Shady LP
The Marshall Mathers LP
The Eminem Show
Eminem falls into the sub-genre of hip hop music deemed "gangsta rap." As Haugen notes, this style of hip hop music that has made Eminem such a success, uses drugs, guns, crime (such as: murder, robbery, rape, etc.), and promiscuous sex to display a "gangsta" image, to the listener. The challenge with Eminem's music is that his portrayal of these societal ills as "cool" affects his millions of fans, who happen to be primarily youth. These youth are not equipped with the reasoning skills (McCrillis) to determine on their own that these are inappropriate behaviors, and as such accept them as normal and eventually, right.
Other Hip Hop Artists and Their Influence on Society:
Other hip hop artists, especially gangsta artists, are equally dangerous when it comes to negatively affecting the psyche of society's youth. Sex, drugs and violence are themes that are continually played out, over and over.
On a recent tour, hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg played a video portraying himself and Dr. Dre buying drugs, romping with prostitutes, and shooting people. In one of his biggest hits, Big Pimpin, Jay-Z announces, 'I'm a pimp in every sense of the word,' while D.M.C.'s last album, and Then There was X, boasts a body count that rivals a Dirty Harry film" (Waite).
Again, youth are continually having this message pounded into their heads and begin to believe that this sort of lifestyle is acceptable and normal.
Women are, perhaps, the most violated victims of Eminem and hip hop. Hip hop has made degrading women an art form. They're easy targets. Terms like: skeezer, hoochie, ho, and the ubiquitous ***** are used as everyday, common words in hip hop lyrics. These degrading terms have become so common that women now think nothing of not only using them to describe other women, but also to describe themselves.
These artists don't utilize the reality of their socioeconomic conditions to better their world. Instead, "gangsta rappers discuss reality but only on a basic level" (qtd. Reynolds). Instead of trying to change the problems their community has, such as drug addiction, crime and violence, these artists would rather glorify the perpetuation of these acts, knowing that this is what sells in the hip hop industry.
In the end, Eminem, as an artist, is far from safe, where society is concerned. He, and other hip hop artists appealing to these baser levels of youth, has greatly affected society, in a negative way. It truly should not be surprising that hip hop music is so infused with violent language, given the strong gang influence on the industry. "In every aspect of hip hop culture there is a connection of some sort of gang influence. In many cases hip hop heads were gang members themselves" ("Hip Hop History"). These lyrics, sadly, can be seen as quite hypocritical that an art form that was originally intended to empower a minority culture instead has only further enslaved them in a world of violence, hatred, crime, and self-loathing.
Armstrong, Edward G. "Eminem's Construction of Authenticity." Popular Music and Society 27(3) Oct. 2004: 335-355. Infotrac Database. Gale Group. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. January 3, 2005 http://web3.infotrac.galegroup.com.
Eby, Lloyd. "Why Eminem is a Problem." World and I 18(3) Mar. 2003: 274. Infotrac Database. Gale Group. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. January 3, 2005 http://web3.infotrac.galegroup.com.
Eminem. 2 Jan. 2005. Wikipedia.org. January 3, 2005 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminem.
George, Nelson. Hip Hop America. New York: Viking Press, 1998.
Halifu, Osumare. "Beat Streets in Global Hood: Connective Marginalities of the Hip Hop Globe." Journal of American & Comparative Cultures 24 (1/2) Spring 2001: 171-181. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO Host. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. January 3, 2005 http://www.epnet.com.
Haugen, Jason D. "Unladylike Divas: Language, Gender, and Female Gangsta Rappers." Popular Music and Society 26(4) Dec. 2003: 429-444. Infotrac Database. Gale Group. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. January 3, 2005 http://web3.infotrac.galegroup.com.
Hip Hop History. No date. Mr. Wiggles. January 3, 2005 http://www.mrwiggleshiphop.net/id114.htm.
Hip Hop Music. 13 Dec. 2004. Wikipedia.org. January 3, 2005 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_hop_music.
Kopano, Baruti N. "Rap Music as an Extension of the Black Rhetorical Tradition: 'Keepin' it Real'." The Western Journal of Black Studies 26(4) Winter 2002: 204-214. Infotrac Database. Gale Group. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. January 3, 2005 http://web3.infotrac.galegroup.com.
McCrillis, M.P. "Why Eminem is Important." World and I 18(3) Mar. 2003: 274. Infotrac Database. Gale Group. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. January 3, 2005 http://web3.infotrac.galegroup.com.
Reynolds, J.R. "Shocking Lyrics Earn '90s R&B Monstrous Popularity, Backlash." Billboard 107(8) 25 Feb. 1997: 26. Infotrac Database. Gale Group. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. January 3, 2005 http://web3.infotrac.galegroup.com.
Taylor, Carl S. & Taylor, Virgil. "Hip-Hop and Youth Culture: Contemplations of an Emerging Cultural Phenomenon." Reclaiming Children and Youth 12(4) Winter 2004: 251-253. Infotrac Database. Gale Group. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. January 3, 2005 http://web3.infotrac.galegroup.com.
Waite, Alicia. "Hip-Hop: A Raging Business." World and I 16(1) Jan. 2001: 73. Infotrac Database. Gale Group. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. January 3, 2005 http://web3.infotrac.galegroup.com.