Shady characters | 5 years ago | July 20, 2001 | Jon Caramanica examined the hype — and the posse — surrounding Eminem.
“Eminem told Spin recently that he started his label, Shady Records, only to release music by his extended crew of nogoodniks, D12. Nowadays, everybody’s got a crew, and putting out your boys on the heels of your own success repays everyone concerned: you get props for you own wisdom and fairness and for reclaiming your boys from the ’hood; your boys earn a little of their own shine; and the fans get to put some of their hard-earned cash into believing they’re part of a large pop movement.
“But if you’re Eminem, and your crew is a collective of five battle-worn black MCs, releasing an album with them can only add to your already considerable mystique, not to mention your bank account. Sure, Em’s got black backing in the form of Dr. Dre. But a spin around the dysfunctional block with D12, his original partners in rhyme, makes him seem true to his roots. And edgy. Always edgy.
“It’s a predictable move, but not half as predictable as the album itself. Devil's Night (Shady/Interscope) is chock full of the things we’ve come to expect from Eminem’s potty mouth: drug tales, hyper-disturbing misogyny, and enough sideshow spectacles to put Ringling Bros. out of business.”
Showstopper | 10 years ago | July 19, 1996 | Jon Garelick lamented the decline of Lollapalooza.
“You know the paradox: you first look to rock and roll to find something you can call your own, and to feel the thrill of being swept up in a mass audience, of realizing that your private tastes are shared by hundreds — or millions. In rock and roll, the urge toward community is as strong as the urge toward individuality. Maybe that’s why it’s such a quintessentially American form. Elvis was the good ol’ country boy who loved his Mama and ate his peanut-butter-and-bacon sandwiches and never left Memphis. And he was the rock-and-roll bad-ass who did the nasty in Hollywood and New York.
“The idea that the Lollapalooza tour was supposed to represent some apogee of the alternative ‘community’ has been on the slide almost since the first show five years ago. And I’m way too polite to criticize an audience instead of a performance. But imagine my dread, driving along the winding western extremes of Route 2 in a 12-car cluster of 35-mph traffic on the way to Pownal, Vermont, and watching the big Ford in front of me, stuffed with five thick-necked buddies, a crushed beer can popping out the window every couple of miles, as the car bounced, then twice, off the guardrail, and the boys continued on their merry way.”
Pop culture vulture | 15 years ago | July 19, 1991 | Gary Susman considered MTV on the station's 10th birthday.
“When on August 1, 1981, MTV appeared on the scene, its implicit promise was to bring pop music to television. Ten years later, it’s clear that MTV has done the opposite, bringing television to pop music. The channel’s successful formula depends much more upon TV than M. By recreating the pop-music in its own image, MTV has increased television’s dominion over many realms of culture — music, film, theater, literature — that were previously independent. Through its ubiquity, MTV has helped bring about a fundamental change in the way we experience not just music but all of popular culture.