“Behind the Mask”: Eminem and Post-Industrial Minstrelsy

Russell White

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Eminem has emerged in the last five years to become perhaps the pre-eminent hip-hop artist of his generation. Despite his success, he is a figure that has polarized audiences in the United States and elsewhere. While frequently criticized for promoting sentiments that are homophobic, misogynistic and violent, these impulses are presented in a way that is so exaggerated that they slip into and are indeed intended as parody. As such, Eminem provides an excellent example of the way in which rap artists utilize and engage with the traditions of signifying and the carnivalesque. This study argues that through his lyrics and stage costuming, Eminem is engaged in a form of racial burlesque that is a post-industrial updating of that performed by nineteenth-century blackface minstrels. In doing so, the article examines Eminem's relationship to constructions of authenticity within hip-hop culture, his coding as white trash, and his relationship to constructions of post-industrial white masculinity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-79
    JournalEuropean Journal of American Culture
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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