On an unpredictable, stunt-filled night when there was blood, dust, cake, paint and fake snow in the air — and that's just what landed on co-hosts actor Jason Schwartzman and comedian Reggie Watts — it was fitting that Sunday night's inaugural YouTube Music Awards came to a close with a performance that went back to basics.
A man, a microphone, a DJ and some of the nimblest speed-rapping this side of Twista. Yes, Eminem had the honor of closing the debut edition of the YouTube Music extravaganza. The 90-minute webcast aimed for weird, wild and free-wheeling and landed somewhere in between, proving that while an improvised host script sounds totally awesome on paper, it's pretty hard to pull off in real time.
None of that had any impact on Marshall Mathers, though, who followed up his triumphant "Saturday Night Live" performance less than 24 hours before with a no-frills sprint through his heavy-is-the-crown anthem, "Rap God."
Like all the night's performances, Em's was dubbed a "live" music video. In this case, it consisted of the rapper swaggering onto an all-white set wearing black jeans, hoodie and hat, with a white T-shirt on underneath and just tearing into the fierce track from his upcoming, The Marshall Mathers LP 2.
As he sprinted through rhymes about how he's been killing the game since Bill Clinton was in office, Slim Shady walked across to the other half of the stage, which was painted solid black. Hype man Mr. Porter was close by Em's side and, little-by-little, audiences watching at home got glimpses of the rapper's band, who were stationed offstage in the middle of the audience at New York's Pier 36.
When Shady turned around and the camera caught a glimpse of the hyped crowd in the room, they raised their hands and jumped up and down to the lines about Rapunzel's cornrows and time-travel portals.
Seemingly still getting his performance legs back after a few years off, Marshall looked a bit winded by the end, slapping a few hands before slipping back into darkness.
He did come back out one more time, though, to accept his award for Artist of the Year. "I just wanna say real quick thanks to all the fans, everyone who voted," he said. "To YouTube, I'm out, peace!"