By Jeff Yerger
I was only in 5th grade, but it feels like it happened yesterday. On Mondays, we had music class, and on this particular day, our music teacher was allowing us to each bring in a CD of our own and play a song off of it for the class. In a pre-iPod world, this was a real treat. I had a mix CD my cousin made me and I couldn’t wait to play my selection for the class. Now, this was circa May 2000, so you can imagine what was on that CD. Frankly, the only song on there that mattered to me was “The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem.
Gasp! Are we even allowed to bring this guy’s name up in a Catholic school? Next to Marlyn Manson, this dude was enemy numero uno back in the day. He was vulgar, inappropriate, and yet, arguably the biggest pop superstar at the time (sound familiar?) When kids wanted to buy the Marshal Mathers EP at my local Sam Goody (and there were A LOT of them), they had to have their parents sign a permission form allowing them to purchase it.
Ah yes, those were simpler times (rocks back and forth on my porch rocking chair, takes a puff out of my corn cob pipe). Where was I? Right… music class. So, I was actually going to play “Adam’s Song” by Blink 182 in class, as it was the much safer choice, but when my friends found out I had The Real Slim Shady on that same mix, they really pressured me to play that song. “Do it, Jeff! It’d be so cool,” my friends said to me. Oh man, I was in quite a pickle: play “Adam’s Song” and let my friends down who wanted to hear some Eminem OR play “Slim Shady,” become the coolest kid in class, get all the girls, and ride into the sunset in glory. Of course, if I chose the latter, I’d risk getting a detention or worse: a trip to the principal’s office, which includes the dreaded toll-free phone call to your parents.
“Alright, Jeff, it’s your turn to play a song,” my music teacher announced. Crap! What do I do? “Uh, uh,” I stammered, as I looked at all the watchful eyes focused on me. I could feel my heart racing; the pressure was getting to me, I was so nervous – palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. “Um…Uh…” the time was now to make a decision: “Uh, I forgot my CD at home.” DAMN IT! I chickened out! But what could I do? I didn’t want to get in trouble. So, despite me having two options, I didn’t get to play either of them.
I was so disappointed, and on the ride home, my mother could tell. “What’s wrong?” she asked. I told her what happened, which ended up being a bad move because, well, she wanted to hear this “Slim Shady” song in question. Of course, her being my mother, I couldn’t say no, and as I write this, I’m still getting that nervous sinking feeling in my stomach. You know that initial fear you get when you can’t find your wallet or cell phone? Yeah, multiply that by a million and you’ll get close to what I was feeling at that moment.
So, we get home, she puts the CD on, and what to her wondering ears should appear but vile lyrics involving Tom Green, the Discovery Channel, and Christina Aguilera. Oh boy, was she furious. “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD PLAY THIS IN SCHOOL! I AM THROWING AWAY THIS AND YOUR BLINK 183 CD!!” (Aw come on Mom, leave Blink 18… wait, did you just say Blink 183?) It was a dark day indeed. Looking back, she was probably right. No 5th grader should be listening to that stuff (luckily, I never played her “The Thong Song“).
Thankfully, that fateful night is long gone, and guess what, I’m 24 and I can listen to whatever the F I want! Now that Eminem is back with the Marshal Mathers 2 EP, I just HAD to give it a listen for my 5th grade self. I know he would’ve (nervously) enjoyed it. Well, after giving it a listen, I’m proud to say that it… uh… kinda sucks. Slim just doesn’t have that same mojo he did back at the turn of the Millennium. I guess we all have to grow up some time.
That’s not to say some songs aren’t good, because they are, and I’d like to share with you my favorite track off of the album: “So Far.” While it’s no “Real Slim Shady,” I am absolutely in love with the Joe Walsh sample he raps about farts over. In this writer’s humble opinion, the hip-hop world could use more 70s classic rock based samples, and Eminem hit a home run with it on “So Far.”
5th grade Jeff, this one’s for you! (Mom, don’t read the lyrics.)