Eminem’s ”The Marshall Mathers LP” — in stores today — is poised to become the swiftest-selling hip hop album in history. Retailers expect it to move more than one million copies in its first week. (The previous rap record holder is D.M.X.’s ”…And Then There Was X” at 698,000.) ”It’s the biggest buy that I’ve ever done for rap release,” says Violet Brown, a buyer for the Wherehouse Music chain. Adds David Lang, President of the New Jersey chain Compact Disc World: ”Do not underestimate the [sales] power of Slim Shady.”
And do not underestimate the power of Slim Shady to offend. Ever since the radio debut of the first single ”The Real Slim Shady” — which takes lyrical aim at Will Smith, Pamela Anderson, and teen popsters Christina Aguilera and ‘N Sync — anticipation has been building to see who the platitum-topped rapper skewers on the rest of the album. Here’s EW Online’s guide to Em’s biggest targets, and a sample of his attack lyrics.
Jennifer Lopez and Sean ”Puffy” Combs ”If I ever stick it to any singer in showbiz/ It’d be Jennifer Lopez/ And Puffy you know this.”
His mother She’s variously called ”crazy” and ”my f—ing bitch mom [who’s] suing [me] for $10 million.”
His wife A song named after her (”Kim”) on which he tortures her for dating another man. Sample lyrics: ”You were supposed to love me/ Now bleed bitch bleed.”
Dead Celebs Sonny Bono (”skis… hittin’ some trees”) and Gianni Versace (”whoops… somebody shot me”).
Parapalegic Celebs Two Christopher Reeve references, including one where his wife plays with Reeve’s legs.
Gay People Too many homophobic references to count. Sample: ”My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/ That will stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or a lez.”
And More Teen Pop Think he exhausted the topic with the single, listen to the title song: ”I’m anti-Backstreet and Ricky Martin/ I’ve got instincts to kill ‘N Sync/ …and Britney’s garbage.”
As of press time, those attacked in the lyrics above hadn’t issued responses, most likely because they hadn’t yet heard the album. Eminem’s label, Interscope, distributed very few advance copies. But now that it’s available in stores, there’ll undoubtedly be plenty of return fire from Slim Shady’s verbal victims and his cultural critics alike. Take cover: The rap war has officially begun.