A Context for Eminem’s “Murder Ballads”

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth Keathley, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: The media coverage of rapper Eminem in the days immediately preceding and following the 2001 Grammy awards rehearsed a number of common tropes regarding controversial art forms: is free artistic expression more important than a moral social order? Is there a distinction between individual expression and commercial manipulation? Do portrayals of violence beget more violence? Is rap music indeed “music”? Concerns about vulgar language, homophobia, and the degradation of women arose from a range of voices because The Marshall Mathers LP had been nominated for the prestigious “Album of the Year” award by the members of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences. According to C. Michael Greene, then the Grammy organization’s president, the nomination was intended to “recognize [Eminem’s] music and not his message” (All Things Considered). At the time, I found feminist objections to Eminem’s depictions of violence against women particularly salient perhaps because, between the Music History Sequence and the Opera History course I was then teaching, I tallied a depressingly large number of dead women. My gruesome accounting revealed four women murdered by jealous husbands or boyfriends; two killed or raped by authority figures; one ritually sacrificed; and five who died after having been seduced and abandoned or forced to marry against their will—for a body count of twelve dead women in one semester of teaching. And that did not include tuberculosis victims.[2]

Additional Information

Echo: A Music-centered Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Fall, 2002)
Language: English
Date: 2002
Music, Feminism, Women, Violence, Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP

Email this document to