It is not a competition, and nobody is chasing this title. It is just how one of the most reputable business publications acknowledges that Eminem does not play by the industry rules and keeps winning.
The article was inspired by Eminem’s surprise performance at the Oscars or, rather, by the way the media reacted to it. The author noticed the clear discrepancy between the interest in Eminem’s performance and how the media played it down:
If you didn’t watch Eminem’s Oscars performance live on Sunday night, you definitely read about it by Monday afternoon. Media outlets flocked to report on the surprise performance, and confused reactions from various Oscars attendees went viral. The 47-year-old rapper’s rendition of his 8 Mile hit “Lose Yourself” became the top-trending moment from the awards show according to data from Facebook, Billboard reports, beating Joaquin Phoenix’s Best Actor acceptance speech and Parasite’s Best Picture victory. Eminem earned a standing ovation at the end of his performance, though you would be forgiven for thinking everybody in the audience hated it based on the reaction photos that circulated.
The author then delves in history, naming some of the controversies linked to Marshall’s name and presenting the evidence of his commercial success. We cannot really expect a deep cultural analysis from a business magazine, but this perspective is exactly what the media have been using for years now, they try to mentally convert his offensives to money, they refuse to see anything behind him poking at celebrities and politicians or going deep into his darkest fears, they take the shock value of his artistry and neglect the artistry itself. Of course, they see the numbers but they cannot explain them, so they prefer to stay condescending:
Eminem remains a commercial juggernaut, with Music to Be Murdered By becoming his record 10th consecutive No. 1 debut and “Godzilla” peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. But these days, he functions more like a cult hero with a super-sized following than an artist who operates at the epicenter of pop culture or actively shifts the needle of hip-hop.
Consequently, it’s easier than ever for haters to dunk on Eminem and cry “irrelevant” or “trash” whenever he does something new. It was easy for writers and Twitter users alike to get their digs in when he arrived unannounced in the middle of the Oscars to perform an 18-year-old song that has been immortalized on morning run Spotify playlists. But the numbers don’t lie: Eminem had the most-talked-about moment from Sunday’s bloated awards show, and “Lose Yourself” subsequently spiked 2,000% in downloads and returned to Spotify’s global and U.S. Top 200 charts. For an artist approaching 50 and still outselling musicians half his age, that’s about as good as it gets.
Two decades ago, Eminem played outspoken conservatives and vulturous music publications like a fiddle, monetizing his controversy and becoming the bestselling artist of the 2000s. A social media-driven news cycle and Eminem’s dwindling influence as a paradigm-shifting artist have dulled that controversy, but he continues to dominate album sales and headlines through his surprise tactics and sheer name recognition. The music industry is nearly unrecognizable from when the rapper first ascended to superstardom, and he has always existed on its fringes no matter how successful he became. These days, the conversations surrounding Eminem have largely shifted from “I can’t believe he said that!” to “What is he still doing here?” But as long as people keep having either of those conversations, Eminem keeps winning.
It is not often you see a journalist reporting chart victories, record sales and trending news to prove the “dwindling influence” of an artist with dismissive “as good as it gets”. But the main point they cannot deny – despite the resistance of the industry elites and media sabotage Eminem keeps winning.
You can read the full article here.