Amy Butcher: Eminem as an Essayist


Butcher considers the art of rap @ The Rumpus.

I want to say that I am talking and thinking and writing about Eminem lately because he’s released another album, and it’s blowing my fucking mind, but that isn’t it. As far as I know, Eminem is not recording a thing, and instead is painting his daughter’s toenails in a lawn chair somewhere outside of Detroit, sipping a mint julep as a hose snakes and slams across a well-manicured lawn. There are fountains there. There are guards and cameras and Porsches, probably.

But here I am writing and listening and channeling Eminem regardless from my one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the Midwest. Outside, the tornado siren is wailing, because it is the first Wednesday of the month, and inside, I am preparing this afternoon’s lesson plan and finalizing edits on my thesis dissertation. I will be a Master in four weeks, and I will frame this degree in something gold and beveled as a way to show that yes, I am proud of all I have accomplished. Look at my many achievements. Look at my long list of publications. Look at my awards and honors—not one but three honorable mentions.

And yet despite all of these things I tell myself when I have to—You are highly educated and cultured and reasonable and affable and you will find a job—it is Eminem I come back to, time and time again. He is what I covet in the deepest depths of my desperation. I turn my eyes up at the man who lives next door, the undergraduate in Ed Hardy T-shirts who engages constantly in demoralizing and degrading conversations with his girlfriend in the middle of our street in the wee hours of the night, or the stark brightness of daylight, yelling, “Bitch,” saying, “You’re such a fucking slut, Lorelei.” On some nights I have even thrown open my window, shouted back, called the police, screamed to his girlfriend, to sweet, sweet Lorelei, that she is smarter than this. And it is her job now to leave.
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