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Monday, October 28, 2002


This is a strange item for me to blog, as I don't especially like rap, and I don't claim to know too much about the contemporary music scene of young Americans. Reading the piece I have the impression that Emminem drives on a mixture of populism and raw energy, and what's wrong with that as they say. No, my interest isn't musical, I can't help noticing and thinking about how the heavy migration into the US dince the early eighties is having an impact on the entertainment industry production targeting.

The Bronx River Houses are hallowed ground in the hip-hop world, one of the neighborhoods where young African-Americans and Hispanics helped create a new art form in the 1970's. The housing project in the South Bronx takes its heritage seriously. From there emerged a founder of hip-hop, Afrika Bambaataa, and the loose-knit group of D.J.'s, dancers, graffiti artists and rappers called Zulu Nation.Three decades later, the No. 1 selling rapper in the country is a 30-year-old white man, Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III. Only three years ago, he was derided as "the Elvis of hip-hop," or a raw version of the 1980's flattopped performer Vanilla Ice (no comparison could be worse on these streets). But these days at "the Bricks," as the Bronx River Houses are called, there is no resentment, there are no complaints about Eminem's racial identity.

"8 Mile," starring Eminem, is released on Nov. 8. The film, loosely based on Eminem's life, is the latest test of the rapper's crossover appeal. The film's title refers to the rough-and-tumble neighborhood that is Detroit's racial and economic divide. While it is well known among music industry executives that hip-hop consumers are more than 75 percent nonblack (Eminem's core audience is suburban white teenagers), Universal Pictures will need to reach into minority audiences to make "8 Mile" a hit.Hip-hop artists are a proven box-office draw. "Barbershop," an urban comedy starring Ice Cube, grossed an estimated $69.5 million by Saturday since its release on Sept. 13. "Brown Sugar," a hip-hop love story starring Taye Diggs, grossed $22.4 million since its release on Oct. 11. Last year, "Exit Wounds," starring DMX, grossed $52 million. The main artists in these movies have been black. But no one expects Eminem's race will keep blacks and Hispanics from going to the box office.
Source: New York Times

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