Black is the new black.
Thirteen years ago, Eminem released The Marshall Mathers LP and the world was formally introduced to the ~real~ Slim Shady: crisp white tees, baggy jeans, a ton of du-rags and a platinum blonde buzz-cut. OK, so the really real Slim Shady (aka: Marshall Mathers), is actually a natural brunette—but Em’s blonde locks quickly became synonymous with his rap persona during his breakthrough era. In fact, Em kept bleaching his hair through 2009, when he reemerged from a short hiatus with Relapse, his sixth studio album, and first debuted his dark, natural color.
At that point, he’d also kicked a few bad habits, beefed up his physique and sharpened his style game: he traded du-rags for military caps and beanies and swapped saggy tracksuits for leather bombers—but that was just the beginning of the evolution of Marshall Mathers. Flash forward to last May, when Em announced he was working on a new album. That album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, was released today and is a sequel to his eponymous 2000 EP. Em went back to blonde for MMLP2 and told Rolling Stone in an upcoming cover story that he credits his manager for the throwback ’do idea.
“And once the songs started to come together and the picture got a little more clear of what it was gonna be, [my manager] hit me with the idea and I was like ‘Yo, you know I thought about that, right?’ And he was like, ‘Well you know, why not?’ And I was like ‘I don’t know how it’s gonna look. I haven’t had it in how many f****** years? Five, six years.’ I was like, ‘I’m so used to it being dark,’ you know. So I just tried it. And I was like ‘F*** it.’”
If you’ve ever listened to any of his lyrics (which, I mean, c’mon—even my grandmother has winced at a song or two), it’s apparent that Eminem’s WAY tuned into cultural influences: celebrities, brand names, music, movies and fashion—he covers it all in his own special, highly aggressive way. So, naturally, we decided to dig around his new album, consult our friends at Rap Genius and pick apart all the fashion-related references we could find.
And here’s your Broncos hat
You can have that s*** back
‘Cause they suck
What’s Em got against Denver? Nothing that we know of, TBH. In fact, this song isn’t even ~technically~ sung by Eminem himself. (I mean, it IS, but it isn’t.) “Bad Guy” is a follow-up to “Stan,” the 2000 song (featuring Dido) about an obsessive fan. This song is supposed to be sung from the perspective of Matthew, Stan’s younger brother. Stan, as you may remember, committed suicide at the end of the song and Matthew holds Eminem responsible.
In “Stan,” Stan writes a letter to Em and reminds him that they met in Denver. Em writes back and sends an autographed “Starter cap” for Matthew, which we now know was a Denver Broncos hat. Matthew now writes to Em and is returning the hat because he’s still bitter about his big brother’s death, which he believes Eminem caused.
RHYME OR REASON
Lamping in my Kmart mansion
I’m in the style department
With a pile in my cart
Ripping the aisle apart
In 2003, Eminem purchased a 15,000 square-foot mansion in Michigan that previously belonged to the former CEO of Kmart, Chuck Conaway. But don’t get it twisted, when he says he’s in the “style department,” that doesn’t mean he’s loading up on Nicki Minaj collaboration pieces. More likely, Em’s using the “cart” and “aisle” imagery to say that, in terms of musical style, he pulls a little bit of everything into his songs.
I get to meet famous people
Look at her, dag
Her nylons ran, her skirt snag
And I heard she drag-races, *burp* swag
Tuck in my Hanes shirt tag
Sure, he may have access to all the celebs (I mean, if you were famous, why WOULDN’T you want to meet Eminem?!), but that doesn’t mean he’s a slave to pricey, lux fashion. Em’s letting us know that even though he has a TON of money, he still stays humble and prefers the same name brands, like Hanes, as us regular folk. #justlikeus
Guess it’s just the way that I’m dressed, ain’t it?
Khaki’s pressed, Nike shoes crispy and fresh-laced, so I guess it ain’t
That aftershave or cologne that made ’em just faint?
Plus I showed up with a coat fresher than wet paint
We already broke down the bazillion looks Em wore for the “Berzerk” music video, but the lyrics are another testament to his style evolution. Ironed and creased khaki pants, slick Nike shoes, a hot new jacket—Em’s well-aware that he’s got some serious swag. And whatever scent he’s wearing is just the icing on the cake.
SO MUCH BETTER
I might hit the club
Find a chick that’s tailor made for me
Just like a fine blazer or a pair of slacks, Eminem wants a woman that will fit him juuust right. But not literally, like in a creepy, Silence Of The Lambs-esque skin-suit kind of way, though. He just really wants to find the perfect life partner at the club. AWW. EM! <3
+ WATCH THE MAKING OF ’THE REAL SLIM SHADY’ VIDEO