Who would have thought that nearly ten years have passed since 8 Mile brought Eminem‘s story to the big screen?
The year was 2002, it was November, and I was still loitering around rap music awkwardly. UN Weapons Inspectors had just begun their search for WMDs in Iraq but me and my white, small-town friends were too busy listening to the 8 Mile soundtrack to really notice. Eminem fascinated me. Ever since my friend’s older sister sneaked him The Slim Shady LP I’d been acutely aware of his existence.
Another friends of ours had bleached his hair and been kicked out of one of his SATs exams. “Don’t listen to that Eminem” our parents said, and none of us listened. Then the first single from the soundtrack dropped, and became the longest running rap song at No.1 (“Lose Yourself” topped charts in 24 countries), and there this guy was, at the centre of youth culture, black and white, across the globe.
It wouldn’t all be plain sailing after this. The “Just Lose it”/Michael Jackson controversy exposed ‘Em to criticism from all angles, and sleeping pills took their toll. Jackson himself perished, and Brittany Murphy, Eminem’s beautiful co-star, died in tragic circumstances. As Eminem receded into the background, ‘Ye and Jay rose to the pinnacle of urban and youth culture. They occupy a very different world. The Iraqi War (or at least, the invasion) ended in 2011.
Of course, we couldn’t have known any of this then. All that mattered was this shaved-head guy and his music, this film and the rap battle which ended it. We watched and listened with awe.
In an attempt to commemorate the film, VIBE have dedicated their November 2012 cover story to Eminem and the 8 Mile cast. Marshall himself appears on the cover, wearing a grey hat similar to that worn in 8 Mile, whilst Mekhi Phifer, Anthony Mackie, Evan Jones and Omar Benson Miller all join ‘Em to discuss the making of the film.
Read the full article, entitled “Eminem Re-unites 8 Mile Cast for 10th Anniversary” here.
And here’s some old Eminem for your listening pleasure (from The Slim Shady EP, an underground classic):