The One Word Countdown – #22

Cold tea is the least of your worries love…..

Stan – Eminem (2000, Interscope Records, Taken from ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’)

Points 134

I find ‘Stan’ a difficult listen.  It’s the backdrop of domestic abuse, drug abuse, mental health, murder and drink driving that does that.  I know its just a song, but ‘Stan’ is so visual, be it the cinematic video, or the way that the lyrics paint such a vivid picture of mental health or the way that it even makes Dido sound wonderful.  It’s still a difficult listen.  If some songs make great short stories, then ‘Stan’ should be considered as a Whitbread Novel of the Year. 

Of course, its brilliant, but it is also dark and creepy.  It is also deliberately intentional, that is the point.  The song revolves around the eponymous character ‘Stan’ who is just a tiny bit obsessed with a rapper (Eminem).  He writes him letter after letter which get angrier the longer it takes Eminem to respond to them.  Meanwhile in the background, there is a sinister undertone of domestic abuse (and mental health caused by obsessional delusion, self-mutilation, sexual confusion and paranoia) lurking.  By the third verse, which is brutally, uncomfortably graphic, Stan has drunk a bottle of vodka, consumed a bunch of downers, punched his pregnant wife (and possibly slit her throat), tied her up in the trunk of his car and driven away, he then drives off a bridge (whether this is by mistake or deliberate is not really known). 

The fourth kicks in after all that has died down and we hear Eminem telling Stan (which, fact fans, has made it into the Oxford English Dictionary as slang for ‘Stalker Fan’) not to take his lyrics literally and pleads with him to get help and then talks about the ‘car over the bridge’ incident which he has seen on the news and the whole realisation hits him.  The way that beats stops as ‘Eminem’ suddenly realises “….It was you…” is one of raps greatest moments.  But you all know this, and if you have never heard ‘Stan’ then you probably live under a rock and are probably not reading this anyway.

According to some people ‘Stan’ is widely thought of being one of the first commercially successful tracks from the ‘Horrorcore’ genre – basically rap music that is inspired by horror films, the occult, death and all that.  Eminem does state that when he was writing it he was listening to Gravediggaz hugely influential ‘6 Feet Deep’ album – which is considered by those in the know to be the ultimate horrorcore record.  Which gives me the chance to post this.

Bang Your Head – Gravediggaz (1994, Gee Street Records, Taken from ‘6 Feet Deep’) and this

Say The Name – clipping. (2020, Sub Pop Records, Taken from ‘Visions of Bodies Being Burned’) – which is probably my favourite horrorcore record.

The Best Stuff I Have Heard This Year #4

1. Check The Lock – clipping. (2020, Sub Pop Records, Taken from Visions of Bodies Being Burned’)

Employing one of Shabazz Palaces as head of A&R has mean Sub Pop have signed some incredible hip hop acts in recent years. One of them has been clipping. a trio that make records about murder, horror and monstrous things. Its a genre called ‘horrorcore’ apparently.

“Check the Lock” is the highpoint on their most recent album (their third) and tells a story of a drug dealer plagued by threats some of which might be real, some might not be. The lyrics rebound of paranoid sounding percussion and a scary sounding bass competes for space with an eerily echo-y synth.

Next up from horrorcore to proper old school hip hop.

2. Copy That – Bronx Slang (2020, Fabyl Records)

Bronx Slang produce hip hop that harks back to the time when Public Enemy were hitting the mics so hard that it was impossible to ignore them. ‘Copy That’ is a devastating anti establishment blast that uses radio crackles and big old beats and a crunching electric guitar to make its point and its brilliantly done.

3. Mustang – Bartees Strange (2020, Memory Music Records)

The debut album by Bartees Strange is a wonderful mixture of several genres at the same time. ‘Mustang was one of the first tracks to surface in promotion of it – and its a heady mix of synths, punk rock and hip hop

And todays Christmas Cracker is exactly that

Christmas Steps – Mogwai