It took 15 years from his first LP, but Eminem's first trip to New Zealand as headliner for the Rapture festival was an incredible display.
With Western Springs near bursting and the neighbours probably as fed-up as those I annoyed blasting The Marshall Mathers LP as a 13-year-old, the self-professed Rap God turned out an open-air spectacle worthy of the expensive admission.
Eminem's set list spanned his seven solo albums and included an extra nugget when Royce da 5"9' showed up for a special performance from their Bad Meets Evil album.
While Shady was aided finishing most of his lines by (I think) Swifty McVay, he still busted out an appropriate amount of solo performances - including proving that bit of 'Rap God' is not computer enhanced.
Both eras of his professional career were represented, with tracks like 'Kill You' - complete with images on the big screen showing a body being dragged to the end of a pier - hitting home with those around for 2000s-era Eminem; and more radio-friendly tracks like 'Love The Way You Lie' showcasing the reinvention of Marshall Mathers.
It didn't matter what he played though, as the multi-generational crowd - pumped by the hyperactive Action Bronson then J Cole - was bouncing along with whatever Eminem was throwing out.
A highlight was the medley of 'My Name Is - 'The Real Slim Shady' - 'Without Me'. The energy of the man was impressive as he busted out a 28-song, 90-minute performance while bouncing across the stage backed by a live band.
However, sound quality at the show left a little to be desired; whenever the band's guitarist decided to crank it up, Eminem was completely drowned out for everyone sitting up on the terraces or hill.
On the whole it was a flawless performance from a man who, seven years ago, seemed to be unofficially retired. The majority of those in attendance at Western Springs seemed pleased with his set, which included an appearance from all of his albums.
The only real problem came afterward where there weren't enough buses to take everyone who needed them in a timely fashion. With 55,000 in attendance for Eminem, things could have easily gotten out of hand.
A good end after a rough week
To talk about Rapture without touching on the issues in the lead-up wouldn't be appropriate and there is a lot I want to say about it.
The easy part is the Kendrick Lamar situation and why a lot of hip-hop fans were disappointed with it.
New Zealand has a very chequered past with hip-hop, more so than any other genre of music.
Whether it is acts pulling out because of poor ticket sales, being denied visas because of past criminal convictions (a net which has snagged the likes of Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz and Master P, among others) or just the general dysfunction of the rap community and its management, it is very rare for an act to get to NZ with the original bill in place.
If you saw the first announcement for Rapture and at no point in the months following uttered a phrase like "I'll be surprised if it goes ahead", you are either a very optimistic fan or haven't been burned in the past.
While no one is faulting Kendrick for pulling out of NZ for a brief, family-friendly appearance at the All-Star Weekend (during one song, even the words 'the coroner' had to be skipped over), it ends an incredible run of high-profile rappers coming down here.
In recent years, Tyga, Run the Jewels, Danny Brown, French Montana, A$AP Rocky, MF Doom and Odd Future have all performed in NZ - and Jay-Z and Kanye West have both swung by in the past decade. With Kendrick and J Cole announced, all that was left from the current cream of the hip-hop forefront would have been Lil Wayne and Drake.
But he didn't and his replacements, the aforementioned Odd Future, were always guaranteed to cause controversy when they were announced. That situation is multi-faceted, so bear with me.
While Stop Demand's protest of their lyrics is accurate, and a group whose lyrics appear to advocate rape is not a good thing to promote, there are immediately two issues to raise; the first is that Tyler, the Creator is not Odd Future. While he is the most famous, there are many different rappers, musicians and artists who make up Odd Future - from the critically-acclaimed gay R&B singer Frank Ocean to the pot-smoking bad boy duo MellowHype to the post-lounge stylings of The Internet, there is a lot of musical scope there - and not all of it should be tarred with Tyler's brush.
Secondly, the album which contains most of the disagreeable content was written while Tyler was a teenager. He is now 22, and appears to have learned from his past – late last year he was self-censoring a line on the album release which included the word 'rape', in much the same way Eminem no longer performs his more controversial songs such as 'Kim', 'Guilty Conscience' or 'Under The Influence'.
Finally, it is troubling that Immigration NZ would apply a category the organisation admits is usually reserved for political extremists to a group which is all about 'shock value' - and base their justification off two incidents. The verbal tirade against online feminist group Collective Shout member Talitha Stone is unredeemable, but an incident at a signing session three years ago does not seem an adequate threat to social order to refuse entry, particularly when the group has performed three shows here in the previous two years, all without incident. And the biggest slap in the face is to the promoters; the decision was essentially saying 'we do not believe you can control this act'.
It makes me wonder, what if NWA or Public Enemy had decided they wanted to do a NZ concert at their peak?
- 'Survival' - The Marshall Mathers LP 2
- 'Won't Bow Down' - Recovery
- '3 am'- Relapse
- 'Square Dance' - The Eminem Show
- 'Kill You' - The Marshall Mathers LP
- 'White America' - The Eminem Show
- 'Mosh' - Encore
- 'Business' - The Eminem Show
- 'Rap God' - The Marshall Mathers LP 2
- 'No Love' - Recovery
- 'Just Don't Give A Fuck' - The Slim Shady LP
- 'Criminal' - The Marshall Mathers LP
- 'The Way I Am' - The Marshall Mathers LP
- 'Fast Lane' - Hell: The Sequel
- 'Lighters' - Hell: The Sequel
- 'Love The Way You Lie' - Recovery
- 'Stan' - The Marshall Mathers LP
- 'Sing For The Moment' - The Eminem Show
- 'Like Toy Soldiers' - Encore
- 'Forever' - More Than A Game Soundtrack
- 'Bezerk' - The Marshall Mathers LP 2
- 'Til I Collapse' - The Eminem Show
- 'Cinderella Man' - Recovery
- 'Monster' - The Marshall Mathers LP 2
- 'My Name Is' - The Slim Shady LP
- 'The Real Slim Shady' - The Marshall Mathers LP
- 'Without Me - The Eminem Show
- 'Not Afraid' - Recovery
- Encore: 'Lose Yourself' - The 8 Mile Soundtrack
source: newshub archive