Thursday, July 21, 2005

Em Quits?

  Last Friday, an article ran in the Detroit Free Press which suggested that Eminem (born Marshall Mathers) was on the verge of retirement.  The word from the Camp Shady is that “no official decision” has been made, according to his manager, Paul Rosenberg.  However, Em’s on-stage sidekick Proof went on-record saying, “Em has definitely gotten to the level where he feels like he’s accomplished everything he can accomplish in rap.  He wants to kick back and get into the producing thing.”

  Over the weekend, as word traveled the globe that the best-selling rapper of all time was about to slip into retirement, the signs started emerging—signs that were there all along.  Em’s last CD, entitled “Encore,” features the rapper on the cover taking a final bow.  On the Anger Management 3 Tour, his performance features a video montage in which he points a loaded gun at his image in the mirror before turning it on himself.  When it misfires, Shady says, “This is how you go out with a bang, baby!”  Buried deep within the liner notes for “Encore,” there’s a handwritten note that says, “To all my fans… I’m sorry.”  It is signed “Marshall.”

  But while “no official decision” has been made, Rosenberg says that he’s “actually quite shocked” that no one has put the pieces together yet, and acknowledges that “Encore” is “certainly a cap on this part of his career.”  If reports of Shady’s impending retirement hadn’t come from within his close circle of friends and associates, grasping at these straws might bear an uncanny resemblance to the “Paul is Dead” or “Tupac/Elvis is Alive” hype.

  According to sources close to the rapper, the reasons he would like to retire now are copious.  For starters, Marshall Mathers is having trouble writing songs for his Eminem persona, and he’s scared of beating it to death.  Also a factor: he knows all about the shelf-life of a pop icon, and is worried about stepping down after the well has run dry.  That is, he wants to leave at the top of his game.  He claims to want to get out of the public spotlight, focusing his attention on producing for other artists and building up his own label, Shady Records.

  While fans are surely buzzing about Eminem’s retirement, a lingering doubt must exist about its veracity.  After all, Jay-Z is a more prolific rapper now than he was before he stepped offstage and into retirement.  Now it seems as though he is constantly trying to sidestep his retirement any way he can.  He’s running Def Jam Records, making guest appearances on other artists CDs, and even showed up to perform with Kanye West at New York’s Hot 97 Summer Jam.  When retirement’s this grueling, who ever needed a career at all?

  If Eminem thinks he’s giving up the spotlight to become a producer or record exec, he better think again.  A talented artist never leaves the spotlight (see Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, P. Diddy).  Record execs are often as covered as the artists they sign (see Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, P. Diddy).

  Eminem, in one fell swoop, may do as much to take hip-hop off the mainstream map as he once did to put it there in the first place.

-From Pulse
   July 21, 2005