By Craig Clizbe
This past Sunday at the Oscars Common and John Legend added to the history books when their song “Glory”, from the film Selma became only the third Rap song to win for Best Original Song from a film. This victory that was the only win that represented Selma that night, follows previous wins for the genre, “Its Hard Out Here For A Pimp” by Three 6 Mafia from Hustle And Flow (2005), and “Lose Yourself” by Eminem From 8 Mile. (2003) Each of these films show the Hip Hop/Rap influence on American pop culture in very different ways. 8 Mile was a depiction of mid 90s battle rap culture that was inspired by a real person , but not actually based on one. In Hustle And Flow we saw what life was like for a struggling pimp in Memphis Tennessee, who dreamed of one day becoming a rap star. Finally Selma is the biopic about civil rights leader , Martin Luther King Jr., and his historic Selma To Montgomery voting rights marches in 1965.
Each of these films allows the performers of the three award winning songs to have very different platforms to make an impact in a unique way. They are all able to tell a story in the gritty, aggressive and honest way that only Hip Hop can. In the world we live in today that now has N.W.A. founding members Dr. Dre as a part of the Apple Inc. , and Ice Cube making buddy cop films, (Ride Along) it is now safe to say that the stigma against Hip Hop and Rap that once existed might be a thing of the past. With that said, it probably was a surprise to no one when Common and John Legend received an emotional standing ovation from the crowd when they accepted their Oscar on behalf of everyone that played a part in the making Selma . But before al that powerful moment could happen, the first winning rapper to ever win an Oscar was home sleeping when Barbra Streisand called his name on the stage. This is because he, like the rest of the world didn’t feel like his music was going to be accepted by the Academy. It is with that in mind that this week’s Throwback Thursday on Clizbeats.com takes a deeper look at the success and impact of “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.
“Lose Yourself” was universally praised by music fans and critics of all types, and is considered by many to be Eminem’s most successful song for many different reasons. This is because when Eminem was first introduced to the music world in 1999 as Dr. Dre’s protégé, he was an unfiltered, animated battle rapper ready to shock the world with his lyrics. He was ready to use his Slim Shady alter ego, to unapologetically go after anyone and everyone, who may not have accepted him as legitimate rapper due to his skin color.
It was clear that Em set out on a mission to make sure we all knew that he had no intention to become a pop star, or become anything close to Vanilla Ice. He used humor and whit to sling words that were entertaining, while also being dark and violent. Even though his songs were often fictionalized (at the time), Eminem’s style allowed his sense of humor and ability to be a story teller, to give his fans a glimpse inside his creative, but often outrageous imagination. When doing so, he introduced us all to exaggerated versions of people in his life, who were often character in his songs. Em became famous for not only attacking pop stars like Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Christina Aguilera,. But he verbally assaulted people from his own personal life. He did this so much at the peak of his popularity, that his mother and ex-wife became household names, after they were both vividly killed on record on his breakthrough second album The Marshall Mathers LP. (2000)
Many music fans couldn’t get enough of his antics, holding on to his every word like a soap opera., But at the same time, the stories he told on record were often classified as misogynistic, homophobic, and obscene by people protested Interscope Records endorsing him. But as is often the case with anyone who used humor as a defense mechanism, Eminem’s use of shock value in his music masked his pain that also transformed him into the legendary tragic artist he is today. His music and interviews have made it clear that he is a tortured soul with many gifts to find different ways to use music as his therapy.
That ability to tell stories was used to the best of his ability when came time to write the music for his 2002 film, 8 Mile. That film and soundtrack would prove to be a valuable exercise, when finding his voice as an artist. Since the film was loosely based on his life, Em put down the more animated aspects of his image, and used the theme of the film to tap into the vulnerable side of his personality, expressing his feelings of being an underdog. That is part of what made the soundtrack’s opening track, “Lose Yourself” so special. Instead of being dark, and violent, he bared his soul, using his struggles to provide listeners with a source of inspiration. This was something that millions connected with, gaining him many new fans who loved his message.
Rapreviews broke down how the story telling was unlike anything he had done before that .
“And as all great journeys begin with a single step, so too does Eminem with this album’s opening song AND lead single entitled “Lose Yourself”:”And these times are so hard, and it’s gettin even harder Tryin to feed and water my seed plus, teeter-totter Caught up between bein a father and a primadonna Baby momma drama screamin on her too much for me to wanna stay in one spot, another day of monotony has gotten me to the point, I’m like a snail I’ve got to formulate a plot, or end up in jail or shot Success is my only mother*****n option, failure’s not Mom I love you but this trailer’s got to go I cannot grow old in Salem’s Lot So here I go it’s my shot, feet fail me not This may be the only opportunity that I got
“Eminem doesn’t always produce stellar tracks for himself (always competent if occasionally bland) but on “Lose Yourself” he strikes a perfect balance with the assistance of Jeff Bass. Guitar riffs gradually build up the intensity during each verse, which thunders to a symphonic height in each chorus as it crashes into hard licks and tinkling pianoes. “
As that critic indicated in his praise, “Lose Yourself” served as a creative bridge for Eminem from the animated character of Slim Shady, to the honest artist he is now. It was his most personal song at that time, and his use of narrative was the precursor to songs that he will do in his later career like “Love The Way You Lie”, “Not Afraid”, and “The Monster.” It was also the first time when Em was praised not only as a rapper, but a producer. The sound he crafted with Jeff Bass and Luis Resto on “Lose Yourself” would help create the blueprint for his sound on a future projects that he would produce away from Dr. Dre for himself and other artists like 50 Cent, Jay-Z, and 2pac. (posthumously)
Eminem went from being an artist being bashed by critics, to being understood and loved by all. Suddenly the underdog inspirational sound that can be heard in all three Oscar winning rap songs translated and welcomed by a public that never considered listening to the genre in that context. This helped make “Lose Yourself” massively successful, and took Eminem’s image from infamous to iconic. Like an actor playing a villain in a role, those who once bashed him saw his ability to channel his emotion into a different role.
“Lose Yourself” became Eminem’s first number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. He currently still holds the record in the Guinness Book Of World Records, for the longest time a rap song has spent on top of the charts at 23 weeks. This propelled the 8 Mile Soundtrack to sell over four million copies in the United States alone, along with the single for “Lose Yourself” to sell 6 million copies. It also topped the charts in 24 countries around the world in total. So without further a due, take a trip down memory lane and check out another historic rap song in film, “Lose Yourself “By Eminem
From Music From And Inspired By The film 8 Mile
“Its Hard Out Here For a Pimp” (Explicit)
From Hustle & Flow: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture
Grand Hustle/Atlantic Records
Common And John Legend
From Selma Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Pathe Productions/Harpo Films/Paramount Pictures/Artium/Def Jam Recordings