White America

Video for Eminem's 'White America'

GNN has a video for Eminem's song 'White America'. The song's been out a while, and in it Em. acknowledges the impact of his skin color in a racially obsessed America.

So, Em reminds us that his skin color probably harmed him as he was trying to break into the business, when record labels wanted 'real' blackness. Yet he also notes how his skin color helps him sell to suburbanites…and receive heightened attention from the mainstream media, which tends to focus on him as an individual (attacking him for homophobia, misogyny, etc), when they just tend to talk about Black hip hop artists in general terms (as if they're all alike).

People will attack Eminem, but he's the master of taking criticism and using it on himself, thus disempowering his opponents. For example, in the last battle in 8 mile he asks how can black people diss me when I diss myself? + he wonders how can white folks say I'm not real? I don't say that I'm real. And to cap it all off, Em can get away with it, because he can play the 'i'm just playing' and 'tidy up' for 'respectable' white folks.

Consequently, the apparent drawbacks of Eminem's celebrity status as a 'white rapper' contribute to his ultimate appeal – he is successful by exploiting his image (records, trainers, clothes) while appearing to parody it. Folks love detached irony, specially when it comes from a 'real' but not too dangerous source. That's the appeal of a white Em from 'trailer parks' and a middle class yet 'gangsta' Dre.

While rightfully praising the central role of Dr Dre in his career, Em uses hyperbole to claim 'every fan black that I got was probably [Dre's] in exchange for every white fan that he's got'. Dre and NWA had plenty of white suburban folks living out their fantasies through Compton. Suburbanites just bought Em in greater quantities, because they felt more connected to/safer with Em.

More analysis on Eminem from Paul Gilroy:'I'd say that Eminem is one of America's more acute social critics right now,' says Gilroy. 'He is one of the few voices that is telling the truth about the implosion of white family life in America. Everything he says runs contrary to the all-American mythology of Mom and Pop and the happy children that Bush still propagates. And he speaks directly to all those other kids who are the product of broken homes, domestic violence and parental neglect. Those images are there in all his videos, in the anger of his lyrics. Eminem is the bard of the destruction of the all-American family.'

For precisely that reason, he is also the most problematic pop star of our time, a deeply troubled, and troubling, figure who alerts us, like the shootings in Columbine, to just how discontented, dysfunctional and prone to murderous rage some young, white alienated Americans are. His songs are fuelled by anger and hate, often towards women and gays, as much as any sense of social protest.'

GNN also carries a video of 50 cent, using his gangsta lyriscs to show the complicty of cops and commercialism in Black violence. Heat video

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