Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Eminem: This Generation's Dylan?

Having just read Steve Jobs biography, one thing comes out as straight out obvious: Steve Jobs was truly and deeply inspired by Bob Dylan.  There are numerous examples of this that the book's author, Walter Isaacson, mentions and this prompted me to actually buy Bob Dylan's greatest hits on iTunes over the weekend.

I can understand where people of the Steve Jobs generation found the sentiment of Bob Dylan's work inspiring but I don't think I've truly appreciated it mainly because I've grown up in a different age.  Jobs quoted lyrics from Bob Dylan during various times in his career as he found a lot of what Bob Dylan said relevant to what was happening in the world around him.

For this generation, I think we see a lot of that in Eminem.

This may sound ridiculous but if you've ever sat down and paid attention to the lyrics and actually heard what Eminem has had to say in his music, you start to realize this man is a poet at heart.  He may be a bit extreme, he may throw in more four-letter words that are required but that's also been because he's been so emotional about whatever he's rapped about.

In a day and age where you don't truly get a sense of a story in music these days, Eminem has been one of the few exceptions.  Nearly every track of his highlights a journey he's gone through.  As a father, you can hear the pain in his voice.  As a husband who's done wrong, you can hear the anger he holds towards himself.  He's represented himself in multiple personas at various times in his career because like most of us, he's also trying to figure out, which of those persona's is actually him.  He's been open enough to talk about battles with race, drugs, depression, poverty and friendships.  He doesn't paint a rosy picture because life isn't all roses but he does help paint the bigger picture.

I can't think of many other artists in this day and age who actually address as many social issues as Eminem does as a mainstream artist.  I wouldn't expect Eminem to show up at too many events celebrating literary greatness like the Sharjah International Book Fair (starting this week from November 16 - 26, 2011 - click here for details of the event) but I think in years to come, hopefully his literary qualities will get appreciated much like we appreciate that of Bob Dylan today.

Whatever your biases are towards his music, keep it aside the next time you hear his music.  Listen to the story in his lyrics and maybe you'll start to see where I'm coming from.