Rhythm & Views


THE OTHER DAY a KFMA jockette, in comments that even by the station's usual low standards were astoundingly graceless, related how she and her posse sashayed into a soiree whose so-called "Mississippi theme" meant they all dressed up as "white trash" (her words). Sheesh. Maybe y'all beat up some homos and lynched some Negroes at the party, too? Such irresponsible mindsets are enablers to foul-mouthed hate mongers like Eminem (tellingly, a rapper in regular KFMA rotation). In addition to the usual bad-ass posturing, bitch-slapping and knob-sucking that obsesses him lyrically, his latest album takes special time-out to encourage violence against gays. Aside from the disc's frequent deployment of the term "faggot," Eminem offers these lovely lines in the track "Criminal": "I'll stab you in the head, whether you're a fag or lez/ Hate fags? The answer's yes."

When confronted, the "artist" gives the tired rap party-line about writing character sketches, and (like rap-metal peers Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst) turns typically disingenuous when issues of role-model responsibility are raised. What a gem.

Let's be clear: Eminem doesn't have a God-given right to free speech. That power comes from the society that grants it, and the society that chooses to (or chooses not to) buy his records. Historically, the freedom in our inalienable right to expression and assembly was aimed at its application, not its unqualified content. It pertains to everybody, whether they're talentless rappers, career politicians, boneheaded radio deejays, or a music writer whose brother just happens to be gay. Nowhere does it suggest that advocating violence and hatred is at the heart of a free society.

But if we let the hatemongers define our terms, then given the utter lack of artistic worth Eminem and patron Dr. Dre have concocted here--squeaking out rapid-fire nonsense in a helium voice against turgid bass lines and nursery-rhyme keyboard melodies does not constitute innovation--this Carolina boy would just as soon apply some Southern justice to his Caucasian ass for capital crimes against music. How's that? Now where's my rope, Maw?