Note From Nick: As our blog continues to rapidly grow, the authors at Get Familiar will be introducing regularly updated series on a variety of topics. Here is our very first series, The Evolution of Flow, written by resident Hip Hop encyclopedia and confused white person, Jonathan Tanners.
The Evolution of Flow will examine the growth of rappers from their early days to the present. Some rappers get better with time, some deteriorate. We’ll cover them all… Tune in for more Evolution of Flow.
Before he was Slim Shady, Eminem wanted to be Nas. It’s fairly well documented that Em’s early career was heavily influenced by East Coast Hip Hop. Though he’d eventually break Detroit as a Hip Hop powerhouse and go on to dominate rap globally with partners in crime Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, 1996’s “Infinite” is evidence that he was quite content trying to be the white Nasir (fitting, perhaps, as they’ve both had heavily publicized spousal issues). The Eminem Odyssey continues after the break…
A year or so after the release of Infinite, as legend has it, Eminem was snatched up by Dr. Dre after the good doctor heard a demo tape. Dre flew out to the Rap Olympics in LA and they’ve been making hits since. In the intervening years between Infinite and his commercial breakthrough The Slim Shady LP, Eminem’s flow underwent drastic changes, as evidenced by the underground hit “Just Don’t Give a Fuck,” which appeared on his independently released Slim Shady EP as well as the major label SS LP. Retaining the internal, multi-syllabic rhyme structure popularized by Nas, Eminem forged a unique sound with his impassioned delivery and trailer park horror imagery.
Following his debut album, Eminem’s flow grew more assured. On his second major label release, The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem’s general persona grew darker and his flow followed suit. The almost playful vulgarity of his previous LP was replaced by a flow that often sounded like a knife repeatedly stabbing the track, fighting against the beat with tremendous rhythmic force. “Remember Me” from MM LP provides a glimpse of these characteristics (Eminem’s verse begins at 2:49, but “Remember Me” also contains notable performances by RBX and Onyx’s Sticky Fingaz).
After honing this decidedly more sinister style on both Marshall Mathers and his subsequent album, The Eminem Show, Eminem began to veer regrettably into the accented rap that now litters his albums and singles. Beginning with “Ass Like That,” a send up of his “beef” with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Eminem has adopted an accent of unclear origin in his raps. I’d really rather not subject you to it, but in the interest of completeness…I present “Ass Like That”….
This accent almost singlehandedly ruined his recent album, Relapse, but I’m pretty sure it was already ruined by Eminem’s questionable beat selection. Another rant for another post…..