Rap "music" and the Grammys.
On February 08, 2001, Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, wrote:
Eminem's "Marshall Mathers LP" ... had been nominated for four Grammy awards, including album of the year. Even though I loathe the album for its violently misogynist and homophobic lyrics, I found myself on the defensive from callers who not only hate Eminem but rap music in general ... Caller after caller to the radio show questioned my sanity. "How can you even use the words 'rap' and 'music' in the same sentence?" one caller railed.
Last week, a similar note of outraged indignation was struck by an opinion piece that appeared in The New York Times. It was written by Bob Herbert, a member of the paper's editorial board, who not only castigated Eminem's Grammy nomination - "Only a lunatic could think this was the finest album of the year" - but also condemned rap as a whole. "My problem with rap," he wrote, "especially in its most grotesque forms, is that it has so thoroughly broken faith with the surpassingly great, centuries-long tradition of black music in America. With rap, both the music and the poetry have vanished. In their place, we get, for the most part, infantile rhymes, and sometimes not even rhymes - just gibberish." Then, referring to the way Eminem has exploited this bankrupt tradition to the fullest, he concludes, "A steady diet of this ugliness is poisonous, the equivalent of developing one's self-image by looking in a toilet."
... it has now become a mainstream marketing formula with outlandishly explicit tales of drugs, guns and prostitutes. Just as the movie industry continues to churn out plot-starved, caricature-riddled action films high on mayhem and low on creative ambition, the most commercially successfully hip-hop panders to young suburban males with wisecracking pathology and shallow shock lyrics.
Eminem is the twisted poster child for this movement, and his stunning success is what alarms serious-thinking adults such as the Times' Herbert. "The Marshall Mathers LP" has sold more than 7 million copies and heavily edited versions of explicit songs such as "The Real Slim Shady" have been played as much as 70 times a week on major commercial pop stations. This ubiquity has led Herbert to conclude that rap has lost whatever moral compass it might have had.