It was 20 years ago today…December 1997

Eminem:  The Slim Shady EP

The Slim Shady EP was the second release and first EP from Eminem.  It was also the origin of the Slim Shady persona.  His record label originally pressed 500 copies of the EP, and he sol around half of those at concerts and consignment music shops.  Two copies of the EP made an impact on his directional future.  One found its way to The Source hip-hop magazine, where he was subsequently listed as an “unsigned heatseaker”.  Another found its way to Jimmy Iovine, owner of Interscope records and friend of Dr. Dre.  Dr. Dre’s instructions upon hearing the EP were “find him…now”.

The Slim Shady features early versions of several songs that would later be re-recorded and re-released on the Slim Shady LP.  Perhaps the most famous of those tracks is “Just Don’t Give a Fuck”.

The track was one of the first songs written in the Slim Shady persona, a character who did things Eminem/Marhsall Mathers may not otherwise have done.  In other words, a persona untethered from emotions or conscience.  The track goes to great lengths to describe Eminem’s life situation where he was living in his mother’s house and had a young daughter, but was still fully committed to developing a career in rap music.  It contains real life examples from that point in his life, including washing dishes while his boss was complaining to him.

Additionally, he took aim at a trio of “white rappers” to include Everlast, Vanilla Ice and Milkbone.  All three wrote responses, but Eminem has never publicly responded to their rebuttals.

Another track which was re-released on the Slim Shady LP was “If I Had…”.  This is his version of the Barnaked Ladies track “If I had $1000000”.  Whereas the Barenaked Ladies track features a number of cheeky examples such as still buying Kraft macaroni & cheese, Eminem knew that if he had that amount of money, he would finally be able to be able to provide a decent life for his daughter.  He was also tired of knowing that his material was better than a lot of the songs filling up rap stations on the radio, but not getting airplay for his own music.  Honestly, this track could work in any format, excepting for the rapid fire rap line approach, but so many of these lines could work with any artist wanting more for themselves than they currently have.

The final track which Eminem later rerecorded was “Just the Two of Us”, which got retitled “97 Bonnie & Clyde” on the Slim Shady LP.  The track tells of a fantasy where Slim Shady has murdered his wife, the mother of his young child, and he takes the body in the trunk and his daughter in the back seat, to the beach so that he can dispose of the body.  With good reason, this track drew the ire of anti-domestic violence groups across the country, which Eminem rebutted that saying something, or having a fantasy doesn’t automatically translate to action on those words or thoughts.

Tori Amos would later record a cover of the song for her female-angled Strange Little Girls.  Her track took aim at the anger and violence of the track by speaking all of the lyrics in a hushed tone.

Eminem would go on to become on of the most popular rappers in the world.  HIs 2000 album, The Marshall Mathers LP was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year, losing out to Steely Dan of all artists.  He recently released Revival, an album which I have not yet heard.

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