Lyrics of legendary American hip-hop artist Eminem focus of new book

8 Sep 2022

The complex, deep and frequently dark lyrics of legendary American hip hop artist Eminem are the subject of a new book.

Reading Eminem: A critical Lyrical Analysis (Palgrave Macmillan) analyses the artist's studio album releases from The Slim Shady LP, his first commercial album release in 1999, to 2020's Music To Be Murdered By. The author is Glenn Fosbraey, an expert in the cultural implications of song lyrics at the University of Winchester.

"Eminem has always written about very dark subjects, including domestic violence, murder, rape, child abuse, incest, drug addiction, and torture during his career - in fact, in terms of lyrical content, no area has been off-limits for him," says Glenn, who is Head of English, Creative Writing and American Studies at the University of Winchester.

"But he has also explored fatherhood, bereavement, mental illness, poverty, friendship, and love within his lyrics. The juxtaposition between these very different themes - sometimes even within the same song - make his lyrics complex, deep, and deserving of proper critical discussion," added Glenn.

The book applies the same rich analysis of Eminem's lyrics as would be applied to any great writer's body of work, which is often overlooked in relation to popular music. Glenn also considers a variety of different aspects within popular music, including extra-verbal elements, image, video, and surrounding culture.

"Despite being heavily inspired by his hip-hop predecessors and contemporaries LL Cool J, Nas, and Dr Dre, Eminem's lyrical blend of shocking violence, surrealism, comedy, and satire reinvented the genre as it moved into the 21st century, eventually making him the biggest selling rapper of all time."

The book is published following the recent award of an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special for Eminem's Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show alongside Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J Blige, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent. With the win, Eminem now just needs a Tony award to reach the coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) status, which has been referred to as the 'grand slam' of show business.

In another new book written by Glenn, An Exploration of Hatred in Pop Music: Viva Hate (Cambridge Scholars), he looks at artists across the history of popular music, and songs ranging from Runaround Sue to W.A.P, exploring the concept of hatred in lyrics, album art, music video, and the music industry itself, considering issues such as misogyny, politics, psychology, and family. 'Love' he says, may be the major theme of the majority of pop songs, but 'hate', including malevolence, vengeance, self-loathing, and contempt, runs a close second.

Finally, Glenn has edited Coastal Environments in Popular Song: Lost Horizons (Routledge Advances in the History of Bioethics), the first book on bioethics to focus on popular music which is due to be published in December 2022.

Contributors examine how popular music can be entertaining when covering subjects such as bio-politics and climate change, alongside its more common diet of songs about love, dancing, and break-ups.

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