For Eminem, it was the phattest of times, it was the slimmest of times. Consider this pop paradox: On May 23, the platinum blond rapper (a.k.a. Slim Shady) released his second major label album, The Marshall Mathers LP, racking up 1.7 million sales its first week and marking the best solo debut in SoundScan history. Then June 6, it was announced that the foulmouthed fellow had hooked up with producer Brian Grazer to star in a semi-autobiographical movie. And yet, that same week, Em was arrested outside a suburban Detroit nightclub and hit with widespread criticism for his splenetic lyrics.
Not that he’s the first rapper to enmesh himself in controversy; the Puff Daddy School of Career Management almost requires it. But Em — who declined to comment for this article — has gotten into so many imbroglios, it’s hard to keep ’em straight. As a service, EW breaks down his battles:
Eminem vs. The Law
At press time, the Grammy-winning rapper was expected to be arraigned on felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon and assaulting a man at a Warren, Mich. club on June 4. Officials say Eminem grew enraged when he saw his wife, Kimberly, kissing John Guerra, a former bouncer at the Hot Rock Cafe nightclub. Eminem allegedly took out an unloaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson, pointed it at Guerra and began pistol-whipping him over the head. ”There were some threats that he was going to kill him,” says William Harding, assistant prosecuting attorney for Macomb County. Eminem’s attorney did not return calls; his publicist said, ”We won’t have a statement until it’s resolved.” Worst-case scenario: five years in prison for Mr. Shady.
Eminem vs. The Gay Community
Move over Dr. Laura, there’s a new alleged homophobe in town. ”This album contains the most blatantly offensive lyrics GLAAD has ever seen,” says Scott Seomin, Entertainment Media Director of the gay and lesbian advocacy group. He’s talking about lines such as ”My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/That’ll stab you in the head/Whether you’re a fag or les.” Eminem’s publicist Dennis Dennehy says the album’s lyrics shouldn’t be taken literally. ”Keep in mind there are three different characters in the album [namely the personas of Marshall Mathers, Eminem, and Slim Shady].” When MTV asked recently if he had a problem with gays, Eminem told Kurt Loder he likes gay men; he uses ”faggot” to mean coward. Responds Seomin: ”That’s supposed to make me feel better?” Seomin, who issued a bulletin condemning the rhymes, says he talked to Eminem’s manager, who ”advised me to remain silent because Eminem is a fireball and you’re just going to make matters worse.” GLAAD is also holding meetings with MTV, and is urging the net to, among other things, tape a special with Eminem talking to gay teens — which seems about as likely as him doing a Celine Dion cover album. Says MTV, ”We have a long and good relationship with GLAAD and are sensitive to their concerns…. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with [them] on this issue.”