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The Slim Shady LP Turns 20!

Image courtesy of Apple Music
By Mic Cool

Let’s face it Marshall Mathers scratched and clawed his way to the top of hip hop’s Mount Rushmore. Coming from Detroit Michigan while living in a trailer park, he battled his way through many obstacles along the way. Coming from a broken home and being a white emcee around an all black community, the odds were definitely stacked against him. He released his debut album “Infinite” for an independent label ran by local producers Jeff and Mark Bass called FBT productions under WEB Entertainment. It was a commercial failure and local DJs ignored the LP.

His personal problems and substance abuse culminated in a suicide attempt. Feeling like he needed to create a lane for himself to bee seen, Eminem attracted more attention when he developed the character Slim Shady. The alter ego was a sadistic, violent, lyrical bully. In the spring of 1997 he recorded an EP witch referenced drug use, sexual acts, mental instability, and disturbing violence. The Source featured him in its unsigned hype column, and he would then go on to compete in the Rap Olympics in Los Angeles. He shined at the Rap Olympics, coming in second place, but his manager was able to get his EP to the Interscope A&R. They sent the EP to Jimmy Iovine who immediately turned it over to Dr. Dre. After the good Doc heard the vicious rhymes from Detroit, he told them to find him ASAP! They flew Eminem to Los Angeles California and he became more comfortable working with Dre after a series of productive recording session, but the chemistry was there from the jump.

Let’s talk about his image. Now the only Caucasian rappers that ever blew up were Vanilla Ice who was just a novelty act and the group House of Pain, both one hit wonders. But Marshall was different. Shady, who was lyrically inspired by Nas, AZ, and Redman, was tooken seriously because of his skills on the microphone. He dyed his hair blonde, had earrings and tattoos, and was very controversial with aggressive content using witty wordplay. The Slim Shady LP was put out in February 23, 1999 on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Record Label through Interscope Records.

The intro “Public Service Announcement”, warned listeners of how explicit it was about to get. “My Name Is” would be next. The catchy hook would introduce Eminems alter ego to the world, but the verses showed just how much of an imagination Marshall had. He talked about pop culture, and making fun of who was big in the entertainment business at the time. The third track “ Guilty Conscious”, offers a feature from Dr. Dre who, contrary to most beliefs, only produced three songs on the album, this being one of them. The song describes stories going on in Em’s head while Dre plays the guy trying to have Shady make the right decision. All the while Eminem isn’t trying to hear it, basically being the devil choosing to make mistakes under the circumstance. “Brain Damage” detailed his hard past, dealing with bullying, harassment, and other hardships. After a skit from his manager begging him to tone it down, “If I Had” comes on. The message conveyed if he had more opportunities he’d actually enjoy living life. “97 Bonnie & Clyde”, an ode to his daughter Hailey, disturbingly details how, if he did kill his wife, who put him through hell, this is how he would do it. Another skit is played from a disgusted fan. Then comes “Role Model”, witch for listeners, is “punch line heaven”. Following another skit comes “My Fault”, a song about apologizing to a girl who he sucked into his world of pills and addiction that she could not handle. “Cum on Everybody” was supposed to be his dance track but it still had X Rated material written all over it. “Rock Bottom” shed light on his tough upbringing and how down and out he felt losing his 9 to 5 while raising a child with no money. “Just Don’t Give A Fuck”…well the title explains his mentality. I’m sure it was 2Pac influenced. “Soap skit” goes directly into “As the World Turns”. A joint that pokes at how fake Hollywood is and exposing anyone who did him wrong. “I’m Shady” takes us as hip hop fans, to another era, acid tripping, and pill popping. “Bad Meets Evil” is a back and forth with fellow Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’9. The two showcase equally impressive dope raps. “Still Don’t Give A Fuck” replays his message of the Slim Shady character. Eminem set the universe on fire and changed the face of main stream rap. He would go on to become a legend and this album was just the start of it.

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Big L: The Greatest Rapper We Barely Knew

Lamont Coleman aka “Big L”
May 30, 1974 – February 15, 199
By Mic Cool

This is the story of Lamont Coleman better known to hip hop heads as “Big L”.  Born in Harlem, New York in 1974, his father left when he was a child. At the tender age of 12, “Little L” as he was then known, started free-styling against people in his neighborhood. Then he founded a group “3 The Hard Way” which he quickly disbanded. By the summer of 1990 he had changed his name to “Big L” to impress one of his female friends and would go on to meet Lord Finesse at an autograph session. The 16 year old L kicked a rhyme and they exchanged numbers. All Coleman wanted to originally do was battle wether on a street corner, in the hallways, beating on a wall, or simply chilling with his friends at a house party. 

In ‘91 he recorded various demos while forming another click “Children of the Corn” consisting of Harlem rappers Bloodshed, McGruff, a young Ma$e(then Murda Mase), and Cam’ron (then Killa Cam). In 1991 Lord Finesse takes Big L under his wing as he promotes his upcoming album, leading to Big L’s first television appearance on YO! MTV Raps. Next in 1992 he won an amateur freestyle battle where he beat out 2,000 contestants to be crowned champion. Big L was vicious with the battles. This is how he earned money, battling anyone who wanted to test his lyrical prowess.

He signs his first deal to Columbia Records and joined DJ Finesses “Digging in The Crates Crew”, consisting of; Diamond D, O.C., Fat Joe, Buckwild, Showbiz, and AG. All of which are New York natives, although he was the lone representative from Harlem. In 1993 he penned the first so called horror core single “Devils Son”. He said he wrote the song because he was a fan of horror flicks plus the things he had seen in his neighborhood were truly scary. By 1995 he drops his debut LP  Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous which spawned the singles “ Put it On”, “MVP”, and “No Endz, No Skinz”. The album is a critical success but has trouble selling units. 

Come 1996 he was then released from Columbia over creative differences. While working on his sophomore album The Big Picture, one of his boys Bloodshed from “COTC” died in a car accident. In 1998 he formed his own independent label “Flamboyant Ent” which was planned to distribute the kind of hip hop that sold without top 40 samples or r&b hooks. Next he put out his biggest single “Ebonics” using lingo or slang the African American community invented. At this time he caught the eye of Dame Dash the CEO of one of the biggest rap labels Roc-A-Fella Records, and a childhood friend from his Harlem days. At this time Dame Dash and Jay-Z were trying to sign Big L to Roc-A-Fella but were caught up on minor disagreements that they working out. 

What happened on the cusp of this huge deal would be devastating. On February 15th, 1999 Big L was killed. He was shot 9 times to the body and face during a drive by shooting. Since his death he’s been regarded as one of the most auspicious story tellers in hip hop history, and one of the most under rated lyricist ever notable for using a rhyme style called “compounding”. He was a master of the punchline. With raps deadlier than a snakebite, yet cooler than a uptown pimp, he is larger than life. 

Big L lives on!

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