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Black Sky Thinking

Would The Shit Slim Shady Please Fuck Off?
John Doran , October 21st, 2008 13:01

Four years? Just to come back with this mad man's breakfast of a single? Eminem's not keeping it real. But there again, he never was, says John Doran

Have a listen to Eminem's new single. A doomy synth refrain that could have come from Wendy Carlos’s electronic soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange provides the backing for a slightly fruity English orator hamming up the ominous words: "Torture chambers, secret passageways, vats of acid and deadly vaults." But this is just a presage to a very recognizable voice making a noise like a malfunctioning robot chicken. It clucks: "Chikki chikki chikki chikki" then "G-G-G-Guess who’s back?" I mean, I could but the question is: do I really fucking have to?

Eminem’s new track ‘I’m Having A Relapse’ was aired on US radio station Shade 45 recently marking his return to the music biz just four years after his retirement with the dire Encore. The so-so single features a faux oriental, souless flute refrain which has become a hip hop staple - if not a hip hop cliche - over the last eight years. That on its own would be alright though. It’s that "chikki-chikki-chikki-chikki", feel like Chicken Tonight, autist after four cans of red bull noise that makes this truly execrable. It immediately makes me think of that awful Studio Line hair gel advert from 1991. You know the one. It featured some dead-eyed berk with a quiff and a saxophone bursting through some marketing cunt’s coked up daydream of what a Piet Mondrian painting might look like. During all this idiocy a choir of session singers chanted: “A new stu stu. A new stu stu. A stu stu stu Studio Line.” 17 years ago it was pertinent to ask why would someone imitate a basic sampler from the mid 80s when they could just use one; now it just points to Eminem’s berserk idiocy. His inability to fucking shut up even for a few seconds. Clucking, parping, driveling, jiving, wack wack oopsing, chikki-chikki-chikki-chikking at full speed, like a hybrid of Robin Williams, an acute schizophrenic and Police Academy’s Hightower.

Actually scratch that he sounds like the all time killer Eminem piss take, Trailer Park Boys’s J-Roc, and his habit of breaking into oral scratching at the drop of an expensive, bright white, sideways pointing hat.

I mean, presumably he actually knows a DJ. You’d think that would be the case. Why doesn’t he just phone him and say: "Alright Bob, can you come over to mine to do a bit of scratching tonight? It’s a piece of piss, should take you about thirty seconds. It’s the sort of thing that you’d hear on Flash’s ‘Adventures On The Wheels Of Steel’. Proper scratching 101 stuff. It’s just that embarrassingly enough if you can’t do it I’ve left it so late I might just have to do it with my mouth – like some dimwit 13-year-old waiting for the bus."

If he’s so enamoured of his own voice why doesn’t Eminem just do away with professional help altogether and do armpit farts instead of bass lines and lay down the beat by tapping on his cheeks, changing the aperture size of his mouth to alter the pitch? Everything that has been annoying about Slim Shady since the first record is in full effect here but his vocal tics and bonkers accents are worse than ever.

Of course Em releasing a new single is big news. No one expects an artist to stay retired these days but it’s still surprising to hear from him after it seemed like he was determined to live up to every white trash stereotype going including allegedly getting all Presleyed up on junk food and getting addicted to smack and sleeping pills and then remarrying his ex (a relationship that lasted 11 weeks this time). One can only presume he had to seek counselling and CBT to help him get over leaving mattresses and fridges outside of his house and a 24/7 addiction to making rambling right-wing phone calls to talk radio shows as well.

Admittedly he’s still got the untrammeled id versus ego diarrhea flow that’s more savant than idiot making one hope that the album, which is underway with Fifty Cent, Dr Dre and Premo as we speak, is a cracker. This single doesn’t make you hold much hope though as even when he lands a glancing lyrical blow he still insists on slipping into a Jamaican accent for no apparent reason. Like Sting. But fat and from Detroit encased in powder blue leisure wear and a sun visor pointing in the wrong direction.

But this has always supposed to have been our point of contact with Shady. His mundane ultra-unglamorous, ultra-real, ultra-Heat, ultra-Take A Break lifestyle, is what we’re supposed to indentify with. How weird that the single that broke him was the least ‘real’, least Eminem statement he could possibly have made.

His second single (his first hit) ‘My Name Is’ was built around a sample from the sublime down tempo disco of Labi Siffre’s ‘I Got The . . .’ Siffre, an English black man who was an openly gay poet and R and B singer of Barbadian/Nigerian descent, refused to give Dre and Mathers sample clearance unless some misogynist and homophobic lyrics were removed from the song. Realizing how essential the sample was to the track’s success they acceded immediately.

This led of course to one of those strange occurrences that crop up in hip hop from time to time. Guesting as session musicians on the Labi Siffre song were the rock solid guitarist Charles Hodges and the stone to the bone bassist David Peacock. The unlikely duo who ended up on this international hip hop smash are better known in this country as Chas and Dave. And if that’s not keeping it real, I don’t know what is. Rabbit rabbit rabbit rabbit. Chikki-chikki-chikki-chikki. Ad lib to fade.

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