Eminem full stage live performance

Let’s get down to big business. As the Anger Management circus rolls up into Europe, there’s far more than two hours of peerless pretty-boy hip-hop at stake. Right here is where rap graduates from street to stadium: having applied genius kiddie-pop choruses to hip-hop with monumental success, now Eminem embraces all of the Bono ‘n’ Britney trappings that go with the Enormodome Experience, adding only the word ‘bitch’.

In front if 50,000 heavily policed white Germans, Eminem goes the full eight miles. He does a disappearing trick like Jacko did on his Bad tour. He has a Kylie-staggering four costume changes (yellow baggy T-shirt, red baggy T-shirt, black baggy T-shirt and – matron, the smelling salts! – topless). He does ‘My Dad’s Gone Crazy‘ in front of firework fountain he may well have nicked from Gene Simmons’ lock-up. Lighters are waved for ‘Stan‘, Em shouts “Hamburg!” in every other rhyme and Teutonic knickers are wet with each flash of Em’s Frank Spencer chest.

And just when we’re thinking Moby might be spared the bullet, out flies the vacuous vegan to be bagged like a trip-slop clay pigeon. But even this ‘sock slot’ is comically pantomime, and no amount of chain link effects on the big screens is going to make us think we’re in a scuzzy Detroit battle-hole tonight. In the grand scheme Em is now little more than the Angry Justin Timberlake and we’re currently sitting approximately 5,000 miles south of Keeping It Real.

Eminem, though, will get real or die trying. Hence The Eminem Show is less 8 mile and more later… With Marshall Mathers. Its star guest is 50 cent, bounding onstage to the opening slasher synths of ‘Wanksta‘ and stripping to his ludicrously large shorts (he could smuggle most of D12 into the cinema hidden in there) like a hip-hop Har Mar.

It’s a masterful example of rap’s protégé culture: now Shady’s been rendered toothless by the good guy whitewash of 8 mile, here’s a real life street Satan, come to take hip-hop back where it belongs: in prison, mostly. 50 only does five songs and sings, let’s face it, really badly, bu the sheer exhuberance of ‘In Da Club‘ and the sultry soul of ‘21 Questions‘ make Anger Management a Big League bonanza with its roots lodged firmly in the ghetto.

As D12 bound out for the curtain call of ‘Rap Game‘ we leave elated and thinking of absent stranger Dr Dre. Rap has come of age and congratulations, sire, you’re a great-grandfather.

© Mark Beaumont NME June 2003

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