PERFORMING ARTS

Not Afraid: The Evolution of Eminem

Da Capo. Nov. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9780306922978. $28. MUSIC
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Eminem burst onto the music scene in 1999 with the single “My Name Is.” Bozza (Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem) frames Eminem as one of the first talented white rappers with mainstream appeal and hip-hop credibility, and charts his evolution as an artist. He builds a convincing case for his legacy as the top rap lyricist of all time—despite past controversies over his misogynistic and homophobic lyrics. Bozza offers elegant analyses of the rapper’s albums, from 2004’s Encore to 2018’s Kamikaze, pausing to examine the history of white rappers in a genre created by black musicians. He follows the artist through personal dramas, including the shooting death of his best friend and mentor Proof, and tracks his debilitating addiction to prescription drugs, which caused the rapper to all but disappear from the studio and the public eye, later emerging wiser and more levelheaded.
VERDICT Bozza’s eloquent tribute to Eminem will resonate with fans of hip-hop and enthusiasts of popular music biographies.

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