His name is Eminem

BEST BETS

April 15, 1999|By J.D. Considine

The last time a blond-haired rapper used MTV as a springboard to the top of the charts, he was dismissed as a white wannabe by hard-core hip-hop fans. But Eminem -- 24-year-old Marshall Mathers -- is no Vanilla Ice. Not only was his album, "The Slim Shady LP," produced by gangsta rap architect Dr. Dre, but it has actually done better on the Billboard R&B charts than it has on the Hot 200.

That's not to say everybody is cheering for Eminem or his alter-ego, Slim Shady. As Rolling Stone noted recently, "Eminem has been condemned as a misogynist, a nihilist and an advocate of domestic violence..." Needless to say, that doesn't make him prime role-model material. But Em -- who insists that he is not a role model -- is equally adept at turning his rhymes on himself, as the relentlessly self-deprecating "Hi, My Name Is" makes clear.

Hero or villain? Decide for yourself tomorrow.

Eminem plays Shriver Hall at the Johns Hopkins University tomorrow at 8 p.m., and tickets are $23. Call 410-481-7328.

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