When Eminem is really on his game, his raps spin out at a hundred hard angles, like Tetris on its most crazed level. It's chaos, you think; it's too fast. He'll be subdued. But he nails every rhyme, and shades every rhyme inside those rhymes, so that by the end of the track you've realized that Em needs the chaos to thrive. "No Apologies" is designed as his response to a year of drama and consequences, and it is in a series of flawlessly worded couplets he castigates the press, and backs up the track's title with some mad dog moments. But at the center of it all is the unresolved conflict between his talent, hunger, and character that's caused him to gripe so much over the years. "Expect no sympathy from me," he says. "I'm an emcee/This is how I'm supposed to be." And we don't want any sympathy, really, because it's clear that, no matter how much pain it causes him to be in the spotlight, that's where he makes his most vicious and rewarding material. Hip hop is a public forum, after all; it would wither if restricted to private ballrooms, or enormous seashell hot tubs behind doors shuttered to prying eyes. The chaos Eminem has created for himself (OK, we all helped a little) is what makes him and his raps so fascinating.
Johnny Loftus is the music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.