As we lead up to the long-awaited Tuesday premiere of Eminem’s first video in five years, “We Made You,” we’re taking a look back at Eminem’s extensive video legacy.
When “My Name Is” first appeared on MTV in 1999, [artist id=”502642″]Eminem[/artist] probably had no clue he was setting a standard for himself with the video.
“If I touch on a subject in a song and it has the potential to be funny, we’re probably going to figure out a way to base some video around it,” he explained in his 2008 book, “The Way I Am.” “With ’My Name Is,’ I remember [Dr.] Dre saying, ’You know, it’d be crazy if you dressed up like Marilyn Manson.’ And at the time, I hadn’t really seen too many videos of Marilyn Manson. His reputation was f—ed up in middle America, but when I mentioned him I suddenly thought, ’Wait a minute, I’d better actually look at some videos, because I don’t know exactly how this guy acts.’
“We come up with a lot of the funny stuff in the videos on the spot,” Em wrote later. “We’ll get a basic treatment, and then when we’re on the set someone will say, ’What if we tried this? What if we set up the camera to do this?’ ”
Ten years later, of course, Eminem has left a legacy of clips featuring low-brow humor, comical put-downs and some shocking antics that would even make attention-seeking cable commentators blush.
His latest effort, “We Made You,” from his forthcoming album Relapse , would seem to fit right in with that legacy. The clip is set to premiere on MTV’s AMTV Tuesday at 6 a.m. and repeat every hour across different MTV platforms and appear on MTV.com exclusively for the first 24 hours after it debuts. The song will also be serviced to radio the same day, and the album is scheduled to arrive on May 19.
So far, Eminem’s camp has kept a tight lid on information about the video. The only nugget the fans have had is a still image that was released where Em appears to be channeling Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.”
But if “My Name Is,” along with Em’s zany antics in “The Real Slim Shady,” “Without Me” and “Just Lose It,” is any indication, it seems possible that someone’s feelings will be hurt come Tuesday. The rapper has infamously taken down Moby, Christina Aguilera and a bevy of pop stars in his videos.
One thing Eminem has also done with his videos, however, is tackle weightier subjects once his shocking tactics have gained our attention.
“Mockingbird,” from his Encore album, showed a softer side of the rapper. In the somber clip, Em is seen watching home videos of his daughter Hailie and his niece Laney. Detroit native Quig, who co-directed the video, told MTV News in 2005 that the video was Eminem’s idea and the rapper even delivered 25 hours of home-video footage to assist with the production.
“I worked around the clock through the holiday week, including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, to get the first edit done,” Quig said.
The results were certainly worth the effort. It was one of the rapper’s most personal works. Not even his detractors could criticize Eminem’s emotions for his family.
And of course 2002’s “Lose Yourself” features footage from the feature film “8 Mile,” which is loosely based on Em’s years coming up in the local hip-hop scene.
Eminem became more political with the animated clip for
“Mosh.” The video was a searing indictment of the Bush administration on the heels of the 2004 presidential election. For the video, Em even enlisted the services of the Guerrilla News Network’s Ian Inaba.
In “Stan” and “Guilty Conscience,” Eminem addressed some serious topics, including overzealous fans mimicking their favorite pop stars and misguided youths and decision making.
Both clips were directed by Dr. Dre and Philip Atwell. While Em said most of the humor for his videos comes from on-the-spot ideas, for “Stan” the epic extended version featuring Dido and actor Devon Sawa, he said the directors crafted the vision.
“Most of it was Dre and Phil’s idea. I barely put my input into it at all,” he told MTV News. “I didn’t really have to. The story is kind of right there, so all you have to do is follow the story. Basically, that’s what the video is doing.”
Aside from pop acts, Em has taken aim at other targets, as well, including his mother Debbie Nelson. In “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” the rapper appears in a number of grave scenes, from his confessing in church to, presumably, digging a grave and burying his family skeletons.
In “The Way I Am,” Em turned defensive, firing back at critics of his music. The revealing video showed the rapper under duress as he struggled to adjust to his exploding fame. He leaps from a tall building and continues rapping as he plummets to the ground, eventually landing numbly on the ground. Marilyn Manson, of all people, makes a cameo in the video.
While Eminem has struck a provocative balance between the serious to the silly with his videos, the shocking headlines from his outrageous clips will probably always overshadow his more dramatic work.
After all, not everyone gets called out by Michael Jackson. The King of Pop called Em’s “Just Lose It” video — where the rapper dresses like MJ and parodies his penchant for surrounding himself with children — “offensive.” BET even pulled the video from rotation at the time.
Yep, Tuesday should be interesting!
Eminem’s “We Made You” video premieres on MTV Tuesday at 6 a.m.