Seamus Heaney, the Nobel laureate, today praised Eminem, saying the artist had “sent a voltage around his generation”.
Speaking prior the start of the Prince of Wales’ educational summer school in Norwich, the poet was asked by journalists whether today’s popular music had any artists capable of inspiring interest in poetry and lyrics in the way that John Lennon and Bob Dylan did back in the 1960s and 1970s.
Mr Heaney, a former professor of poetry at Oxford University and winner of the 1995 Nobel prize for literature, replied:
“There is this guy Eminem. He has created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around his generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude but also his verbal energy.”
Eminem’s dark themes and lyrics have often sparked controversy. In the track Guilty Conscience, he encourages the subjects of the song to rob a liquor store, have sex with a 15-year-old girl, and eggs one man on to shoot his wife, rapping “grab her by the throat, grab your daughter and kidnap her.” He has been accused of being homophobic, misogynistic and of glamorising violence.
Eminem, who recently played to 65,000 fans in Milton Keynes, caused outrage on a previous tour of the UK when he pretended to take pills on stage and wielded a chainsaw. His style of music also came under attack from the then culture minister Kim Howells for “glamorising” gun culture following the shooting of two teenage girls in Birmingham in January.
Other artists who have praised the rap star include Sir Paul McCartney, who described his lyrics as “only showbiz”, and compared the furore Eminem created with that made by Elvis Presley.
Mr Heaney’s praise of the Eminem follows the rap tribute the poet laureate, Andrew Motion, wrote to commemorate Prince William’s 21st birthday last week, although the lyrics were a far cry from the rapper’s controversial style, aimed more at reflecting the prince as “a new kind of royal figure” who retains traditional responsibilities.
About a week ago, Complex ‘nominated’ Eminem for Nobel Prize in Literature…This talks getting a bit more serious. So who knows, maybe one day the Rap God will be Nobel laureate.
This is Mr. Heaney below:
[Via The Guardian]