I am not sure how many of my kind readers are fans of rap. I’m not exactly the world’s biggest fan of rap, either, but you really can’t dispute that great rappers (Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Snoop…Lion?, Eminem) do an awful lot of interesting things with words and meter. It’s also important to note that there’s no inherently bad medium. There are good comic books, good movies, good novels, good rap, good country music…it’s sad when someone dismisses a whole genre. (Except for dubstep. There’s no good dubstep.) I plan on writing a proper essay on what we can steal from an Eminem song, but here’s an amuse bouche.
Years ago, Eminem did an interview for a 60 Minutes profile. During the course of the conversation, this happens:
I love that Eminem gets visibly annoyed by people who say that there are no words that rhyme with orange. He’s passionate about language and wants other people to understand the beautiful opportunities for expression that are afforded us by our common tongue.
I’m not sure if Eminem has taken any classes in the field of linguistics, but he’s having a lot of fun with language and thinking of words and phonemes in a number of fun ways:
“I put my orange four-inch door hinge in storage and ate porridge with George.”
Eminem, like Emily Dickinson and Sappho and Denise Duhamel, employs off-rhyme and enjambment and internal rhyme to keep his work interesting. Who better than a rapper to use as an example of how to manipulate words? That’s all they do, right? You may or may not be a fan of the books, but James Patterson and his co-writers are experts in creating suspense. If you’re writing a story about white people almost kissing, you’ll do well to study the works of Nicholas Sparks, right?
But seriously, it’s within our best interest to have an appreciation for all genres so we can steal their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.
So even if you don’t like Eminem’s music or the violence depicted within, try to open your mind a little bit to appreciate the elements of craft at which he excels.