Read Next

Childhood Memories

It's a dangerous night to be walking outside. Not for me, but for the tiny little frogs that dot the gravel road. I swish my overpowered Surefire flashlight across the dark gravel trying to avoid stepping on them. When I get close they freeze in their tracks, making them harder to see. This would be a good reflex if I was trying to eat them, but it's working against them tonight.

I'm walking down to the beach for old times' sake. It's 2am and I'm in Milton, Vermont. Calling it a beach is generous. Shale rocks densely scattered over green outcroppings of weeds lead up to murky water. There are a few docks and a few boats pulled up out of the water. They're not locked to anything - they're just sitting there.

I crouch, pick up one of the little green frogs, and watch him slowly climb around my wrist as I rotate it. I probably haven't touched a frog in ten years. Playing with frogs used to be my favorite thing to do when I was in Vermont. I liked to catch them in a bucket and then empty it into the nearby creek and watch them swim away. Sometimes we'd throw them in the air so that they'd land in the lake. That seems a bit inhumane now, but we didn't know better back then. We were kids. I lower my arm to the ground and nudge the frog off of my wrist.

The Eminem Show - Eminem

On More from a 3 Minute Record

As you may have discerned from previous posts, I didn’t grow up in a “hip-hop” household, per se. In fact, to this day, the only “hip-hop” album in my dad’s collection was a clearance MEGABASS sampler disc, purchased to test out the subwoofer in his vehicle. As a young kid, I knew there was other music out there, but before you are old enough to have strong opinions, you are more or less locked into the music that your parents choose for you. For me, that typically meant classic rock mixed in with 90s alternative rock with a dash of current top 40s if my mother was driving. I’m not upset about that, and I don’t feel brainwashed because my parents both listen to good music.

This changed around 4th grade. That is when watching MTV’s TRL (Boo! Hiss!) became a staple of my afterschool routine. There, I heard Eminem’s “My Name Is” for the first time. I remember being in awe trying to keep up with the words he was saying. It was so different from every piece of music to which I was accustomed. I went online and printed the lyrics to follow along. Luckily, as a ten-year old, I didn’t understand everything/didn’t have the patience to sit through dial-up internet speeds to find out/find any of those slang terms on Microsoft Encarta. Eminem’s ability to rhyme was entrancing to me as a younger kid. I, like most of America, couldn’t look away. The fact that he looked like me (read: white), had very little to do with my fascination.

The first rap album I ever owned was The Eminem Show. I paid for it, but due to the obviously present “PARENTAL ADVISORY” sticker, my mother had to actually perform the transaction. I like to think this is not because she’s a terrible mother, but because she a) didn’t want to create a taboo out of music, and b) trusted my psyche and maturity to be able to handle his more “colorful” metaphors. Thanks, Mom! It was purchased at the music store in Sumter, SC, briefly after we moved from New Jersey. Suddenly, removed from the friendly confines of the military base, and displaced in the land of Dixie, race became something that I began to think about.

Before we go any further, I think it’s important to reiterate how normal of a childhood I had. I almost wish there were more that I could complain about so that I could be a great artist, but the truth is I always had everything I needed, most of what I wanted, and a loving, supporting family. I like to think that I really didn’t have a rebellious, angst-y phase. So when I say this album was important to me, it’s not because I was in a dark place, experimenting with drugs or violence, or hating my parents.

Rendering New Theme...