Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eminem - Relapse

It was a bit of a no brainer really, I was always going to love Relapse, the new CD from Eminem. I’ve been a big fan since his first single back in 1999, buying up every studio album, compilation, D12 release and collaborative sampler – plus his posthumous collaborations with such rap icons as Christopher “Biggie” Wallace and Tupac Shakur. I’ve bought videos, DVDs, posters, and seen him live on the “criminal” tour supported by Xzibit. In fact you could say I’m something of a “Stan” when it comes to Eminem – I’d class myself as a super-fan.

So I’m not sure whether my gushing review of this CD could be counted as valid, but I’ll continue nevertheless. I don’t just admire Eminem as a rapper. I see him as a wordsmith on a par with the greats – Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Byron and Keats.

His lyrical dexterity is second to none. This quote seems to sum up the esteem in which I hold his skills:
“Despite the media portraying him as the devil at various points in his career — just the latest in a long line of anti-heroes here to steal your children's souls and minds — there always seemed to be something more just below the surface with this guy. As an anonymous poster recently wrote on a music chat board I visit, Slim Shady — Eminem's musical alter ego — is like a Shakespearean fool; there's often a lot of wisdom, even a genius, underneath his apparently mad ravings. In fact, in many ways, it could be argued that he was the first to bring a humanistic, even a more literary side, to hip hop that wasn't really there before — less false braggadocio and a lot more confessional technique, probably more of the latter than any rapper before him or since.” (Bill Holdship, Detroit Metro Times.)

Even when he stops rhyming and recourses to mumbled or slurred gibberish you know that’s just to throw you off guard until the next killer couplet is slammed home. Eminem is in full control of the rudder even when you think his ship is about to crash onto the rocks of taste and morality, he knows exactly where he is going and what reaction he hopes to illicit…

And believe me, you will be pushed to the boundaries of what you find acceptable. Subject matter in the lyrics of the album goes over well trodden ground, ranging from tried and tested avenues:- rape, murder, incest, serial killing, cannibalism, physical and sexual abuse, felching, torture, drug abuse, separating conjoined twins (!) and lampooning target celebrities (even poor old Christopher Reeve still gets a good pummelling, despite his untimely death...) But don’t get it twisted, all of this has to be taken with a pinch of salt, it's all a slickly performed persona – the tendency to rap about subjects ‘close to the knuckle’ is no more reflective of the artist Marshall Mather’s real personal tastes or leanings, than is the hack and slash actions of actor Robert Englund are, when he’s made up as the character Freddy Kruger – Marshall Mathers and Slim Shady are two very different entities.

All the essential elements of a Shady LP are there - skits with Paul Rosenberg and Steve Berman, (denouncing the rapper as a waste of space and his CD as lacking any artistic or commercial merit), collaborations with mentor Dr. Dre and protege 50 Cent, songs about his mum, and the slightly-anthemic-aimed-at-all-those-tortured-goths-wallowing-in-their- bedroom-sing-along-through-your-tears number, "Beautiful". (Why is the most tender and morally valuable song on the CD my least favourite? What does that say about me???)

Notable by their absence are, collaborations with posse D12, songs about ex-wife Kim and any evidence of the politically charged rhetoric that peppered his recordings during the Bush administration. Idon't miss the obsession with wifey, but I did miss the other two.

Beats and backing tracks are as tight as a nat's chuff, the standout track being "Bagpipes For Baghdad" with it's faux R 'n' B Eastern flava, all Bollywood strings, nose flutes and tablas over a thudding bass drum. The track is also notable for a hilarious Scottish flavoured Eminem expressing how he is feeling... "Fooking greet mon!"

I won't pull the album apart track by track they're all superb. Take advantage of the internet and listen to them all, you won't be disappointed. I'm still undecided whether the wholesale public examination of his addiction/relapse/rehab is a genuine attempt by an artist to work through his pain or a cleverly exploited opportunity to provide a concept vehicle for his 'comeback' LP. I'm not sure I care either way. What is definite is the fact that ten years into his career as a megastar, despite five years of seclusion, Eminem is as vital and visceral as ever, still relevent, still excellent and still at the very top of his game!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Star Trek or Wolverine?

Well, it's my birthday on Saturday, I'll be 42. Normally, that would be celebrated with copious amounts of booze, but as you all know this year will be different. Instead I'll be taking a very non-alcoholic trip to the cinema, where the only drink I'll imbibe wil be a giant diet pepsi, to wash down the nachos, cheese and chillis!

But here's the dilemma... Star Trek or Wolverine? I'm a long time fan of both franchises. I don't get to the cinema that often and I don't want to miss either. I've been a Trekkie since I was a kid, but I also read X Men comics as a kid and I've loved the three X Men movies so far... Plus I'm massively intrigued by Wolverine's back-story...

At the moment I'm swinging toward Star Trek, however, as I'm excited by it's reinvention and I love anything with Simon Pegg (Scotty) in it... I'll let you know where I ended up!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Going To See MJ!

Well, that's the plan anyway! as you may or may not know, Michael Jackson has been booked to perform a series of concerts in London this year, and early into next. They sold out in minutes and thousands of fans were left disappointed and cheated of perhaps their last chance to see the man perform.

I was one of those disappointed... I expressed my dismay on these very pages, a feeling that I know only Junlee could appreciate. Still, the internet is a wonderful thing, and somehow, through a secure and official vendour, I now have two tickets to see MJ on Saturday January the 10th 2010! Sure they are about as far from the stage as they could be, but I saw Eminem under the same circumstances and that was awsome!

Now, for a start, this has cost me £300 which I really don't have right now. There'll also be the cost of travelling to and staying in London. Then there is the sketchy business as to whether Mr. jackson will be 'well enough' to perform one concert, let alone the 50 or so he has committed to performing. Seeing him shuffling round Las Vegas bookshops in a surgeon's mask doesn,t exactly fill one with confidence...

Still, for now, I'm on cloud nine. I know most of you wouldn't watch Michael Jackson if he was performing for free in the local park, but for me it's fulfilling a huge personal ambition. So hopefully, you'll be thrilled for me!


Sunday, May 10, 2009


You can see my house through the trees!

Well. It's 7.54 a.m. on a beautiful May morning and the sun is streaming in through the windows. The Victorian park opposite the house is in full bloom. At this time of day, at this time of year, my little part of Moss Side looks good.

My son, little Ted, anxiously takes his pre-high school SAT exams this week, (which is rounded off with my 42nd birthday on Saturday.) I'm seeing the heart specialist today - I haven't deteriorated or improved since I got out of hospital - so I've nothing really to tell him. I wonder if he's got anything important to tell me?

I'm still in blogging stasis - neglecting all of my blogs, for days, weeks and even months. Every time I feel like I've updated and am ready to get back in the blogging routine, I stop. I then feel guilty/lazy/rude (to my blogging friends and brothers) but this does not wake me from my blogging torpor.

I am gaming like a demon though. My fayre at the moment? Resident Evil. Resident Evil, Resident Evil and more Resident Evil. I've completed Resi 5 on Easy, Normal and Veteran, (unlocking and upgrading all weapons and uniforms) completed Resi 4 again on normal and at the moment I'm about a third of the way through Resident Evil on the Gamecube - although I'll openly admit I'm using a guide - (that game is hard!) - and just in case I need a little Resi on the go, I've started Resident Evil DS again, playing as Chris. Just yesterday, I saw my first cut-scene with Rebecca Chambers and finally understood her place in the first installment! Other than that, I've little to report! I'll chuck a little video of the game at the bottom...

Oh, but I did rent House Of The Dead Overkill this weekend... Perhaps I could share my thoughts on that?

So I'd just like to say HI! and a Happy May to you all!