It’s been a busy week for Eminem. In between dropping a new 18-minute Shady Records cypher, the new song ‘Detroit vs. Everybody’ from the upcoming Shady XV release, and playing a benefit show for veterans in Washington D.C., he’s been nearly omnipresent. And as with any flurry of activity from the rap legend, he’s once again stirring up controversy – in the Shady Records cypher, he threatens to punch Lana Del Ray, as well as swearing during the Concert for Valor – and yet again, the media is shocked and appalled.
Look, we get it. Equality and Women’s Rights have been in the news a lot lately, and rightly so, and it’s not exactly professional to swear in front of the soldiers you’re supposed to be honoring. But, really, who gives a fuck in 2014? Eminem has literally been doing these things since day one, way back in 1999, and we continually act surprised at his flagrant disregard for political correctness. I guarantee you that the organizers of the Concert for Valor fully knew what they were getting when they booked Eminem to play their show, and I doubt Lana Del Ray is minding that her name is all over the headlines right now, either.
Eminem’s persona has been well established through seven studio albums, millions of sales, videos, interviews, and everything else that goes with being a megastar. There is literally nothing the man could do at this point that has the capability to truly shock and surprise. Even now, Shady is nothing but a shade of what he was back in the glory days of The Marshall Mather LP and The Eminem Show, and the shots he does take are much more reigned in. So, once again, why are we acting like this is news?
The thing of it is, we lack a persona that has the guts to shock and offend in the mainstream right now. Stretching all the way back to the days of Alice Cooper, we’ve pretty much always had at least one person who pushed the limits and made a concerted effort to aggravate and offend soccer moms around the world. But now, we live in a world where labels are afraid to push all but the safest, guaranteed-to-sell acts, and are immediately rebuffed if they dare take a single step outside of their carefully-crafted personas. Kanye West is the closest thing we have to that persona right now, but even he doesn’t have the same shock value as Eminem used to have back in the early 2000s. And that’s why we keep mining him for headlines, years after his peak – because we have no one else.