Of Eminem, Talent, and Oz

Last night, a God-fearing married couple went to see one of the greatest emcees to have ever walked on this earth. The emcee? Eminem. The married couple? None other than yours truly and my Australian hubby.

There’s a lot of people in this world who may not like Eminem, and I’m sure there’s even more in the Hip-Hop scene who may not necessarily rate his music. But the truth is, there’s just too much empirical evidence: Eminem is one of the best. It’s such an absolute joy to watch someone who has been given an incredible talent actually use their talent to its maximum potential. What a rare thing!

It’s hard to find individuals like him these days because so often, people fall into one of two categories: 1) they haven’t identified their talent yet or 2) they distract themselves with desires that fall outside of their God-given talent and waste time and ultimately, purpose. Frankly, I can only name a handful of individuals who actually know what their talent is and are passionate enough about it to keep using it and refining it (and one of these select few is my own husband). Getting to watch someone do what they do best is so satisfying, because to me, it’s like giving glory back to God.

Of course, Eminem’s lyrics aren’t exactly ones I’d choose to worship God with, but so many of his songs actually move me. All expletives aside, there’s no denying talent when you look at the meticulous way he composes his words and how he masterfully delivers his message. Every time I listen to his songs, I feel like I’m getting a lesson on the English language (nerd alert) and I begin to froth when I read the actual lyrics because he structures everything so well and his metaphors are just WOW. He puts my English degree to shame. And what is genius about his songs is that they’re not just clever, thought-provoking, and cheeky–they are straight up gutsy and hit you right at the heart. The dude is bloody brilliant. And that’s why I was so psyched when I heard he was coming to Sydney as part of his Rapture 2014 tour. This was not to be missed and by Christmas, we had secured our tickets and began counting down the days.

Yesterday finally arrived, and the show kicked off in the late afternoon with a full line up of opening acts that included Action Bronson, J. Cole, and then escalated with the iconic Kendrick Lamar. Just about every seat in ANZ Stadium was filled with every style and age bracket you can imagine. The row in front of us was a family of five siblings who constantly made trips back and forth to the snack booth through the duration of the opening acts. Directly beside them was a row of seven high school friends who only stood up to sing along and dance to the songs Eminem released with Rihanna. Next to my husband was an aggro-looking Aussie with a bald head and a pink-dyed gotee who continued to yell the entire time. To my left was a sweet Asian couple who at first appeared timid when they arrived but the moment Eminem got on stage, they went absolutely mental–and by that I mean, the dude was dancing and rapping along to every song (word for word) and his girlfriend was screaming and jumping as though she’d just won the lottery. Several rows down below, I spotted a mother strapped with an ergo rocking back and forth trying to hush her baby to sleep. Yes, her BABY.

Although I was highly entertained by the crowd around me, the highlight of the evening was of course seeing Eminem perform live. Our seats weren’t the best (that was my fault), but his stage presence made you feel as though you were right there. He was so full of hype and energy, running back and forth across the stage and jumping around. He had a live band performing with him, and everyone from the sultry female backup singer to the heavy-hitting drummer completely rocked the set. The musicality of the show was on point. He opened up with “Survival” which immediately got the crowd roaring and was followed up by a creative mashup of all his latest hits. At one point in the show, Royce Da 5’9″ joined Eminem on stage for a surprise performance of “Fast Lane” and “Lighters.” Toward the end of the night, Eminem did a throwback mix with songs like “Criminal,” “My Name Is,” and “Without Me.” He even performed “Just Don’t Give A F***” which was released in 1996 but was more widely known in 1999 from The Slim Shady LP.

My one criticism about Eminem’s show is that he only performed a small selection of songs from his latest album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 which were: “Survival,” “The Monster,” “Berzerk,” and “Rap God.” I’ve gotta confess though, I only wish he performed more of them because I’ve been loving on his latest album every day. So many of the songs on it are my go-to tunes when I hit the gym, so they’re constantly spinning in my head. If I could choose which other songs I would’ve loved to see him perform, they’d be “Legacy,” “Stronger Than I Was,” and “Beautiful Pain.” But that’s just me being selfish. There’s a special science to arranging the perfect set list and well, ballads don’t exactly make people want to lose themselves. Unless of course, you’re Celine Dion.

Overall, Rapture 2014 was massive. I loved every minute of it, and I’ll always remember February 22nd as the day we got to see Eminem in Sydney.

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