- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 24, 2002

It is easy to peg Eminem as without morality and therefore irrelevant, but the two most overlooked things about the bleach-haired verbal minstrel of rage and outrage is that he's incredibly talented and that he does rap about many things of substance.

Unfortunately, in concert Sunday night, Eminem chose to display much more of Slim Shady, his thuggish, profane personality, than Marshall Mathers, the white boy from Detroit with a messed-up childhood, a divorce, a 6-year-old daughter and a bag full of tough questions. Eminem headlined the Anger Management Tour, featuring rappers Xzibit and Ludacris as well as the rock band Papa Roach, when it stopped at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va.

The crowd of about 20,000, though, mostly white and mostly under 21, loved the show, a true spectacle of stagecraft that included a full-size Ferris wheel, a circus tent, a DJ on scaffolding and lots of bright colors and blinking lights.

"The Eminem Show," heralded by a brilliant orange sign, began with a video montage of the rapper's many critics taking their best shots at the man whose music, they say, is "undermining the moral fabric of America."

The stage was dark, but the crowd was in a frenzy, invigorated by the words of one critic, who said, "Eminem's music seems to attract young people who have problems."

The lights then came up, and Eminem appeared at the top of the Ferris wheel, from where he began a new song called "Square Dance."

Stylistically, "Square Dance" allowed Eminem to showcase his verbal dexterity immediately in a song that is not serious but in which the chorus is driven powerfully by the swooping sound from a synthesizer.

The show didn't get much better than the excitement and fun of the first song, and at times it got much worse during the rest of the 19-song set, which featured a majority of songs from the rapper's new CD, "The Eminem Show."

Though songs such as "Closet" express pain and anger over Eminem's awful relationship with his mother, and "White America" is a startling diatribe against "the democracy of hypocrisy," too many of Eminem's songs degenerate into hackneyed boastings about violence, drugs and sex.

Worse even than the content, Eminem himself seemed bored for much of the show. There was little emotional dynamic apart from moments of anger and a glazed intensity that seemed more show than substance.

Eminem has said that if society wants ostentatious exhibitionism, he will provide it, and perhaps his stoicism hid contempt for the eagerness of the masses to lap up whatever he delivers, no matter how obscene.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide