Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP [Interscope, 2000]
Unless you hope to convince the platinum hordes that you live on Mars, there's even less point moralizing about this one than there was with the last. Right, Marshall Whoever is homophobic; right, he breathes. In context, the worst thing about his casual fag-baiting is that it's at once so received--like the shock-horror his boys envision in "Amityville," the one provocation here whose boundaries are predictable--and, because he's a devastating wordslinger in every context, so hurtful anyway. But the real Slim Whoever seems far more deeply disturbed about stardom, drugs, his marriage, and boning his mom--which latter, like it or not, is the fantasy (or whatever) that sets all the rest up, a big fat fuck you to the black culture Eminem respects and owes so explicitly, for if Snoop or Too Short or DMX would never say such a thing, just how bad can they be? Disable your prejudgment button and you'll hear a work of art whose immense entertainment value in no way compromises its intimations of a pathology that's both personal and political, created by one of those charming rogues you encounter so much more often on the page--exceptionally witty and musical, discernibly thoughtful and good-hearted, indubitably dangerous and full of shit. He may yet give a fuck--he has it in him. But not on anyone else's terms or timetable. A