Artists Support Eminem's Grammy Bid

ByGayl Murphy

January 5, 2001 -- When Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP was announced as a contender for the Album of the Year prize at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards, one of the biggest question marks about the event was settled. The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences had already recognized the young musician in its rap categories — in which he won two of three awards last year — but would they be willing to put him, with all his controversies, in the general categories?

The honor would be a no-brainer for anyone else whose record had sold more than 8 million copies — and who had received widespread critical acclaim, being named best of the year by several magazines.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a statement Tuesday in anticipation of Eminem's success with Grammy nominations. The group said his music is inseparable from its content, which they says advocates "violence against lesbians and gay men" and sends "explicit messages that endorse hatred."

The announcement drew attention to lyrics from the song "Criminal" on The Marshall Mathers LP: "My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/ That'll stab you in the head/ Whether you're a fag or lez/ Or the homosex, hermaph, or a trans-a-vest/ Pants or dress — hate fags? The answer's 'yes.'"

Artists present at the announcement of the nominations took a different view, however.

Rocker Sheryl Crow, herself nominated for two Grammys, said, "I liked the Eminem record. I think it's a great-sounding record, and whether you like the content or not, it's a well-made record, and it's interesting-sounding and very infectious."

R&B singer Toni Braxton, up for two prizes as well, is also a fan of the rapper:

"For me, I'm an artist, and [this issue makes me] think, 'freedom of speech'; you've got to be able to do and sing what you want. That gives us choices in life, that's very important. His lyrics don't personally offend me, but I can understand why some people might be offended … but then, just don't listen."

But what is Marshall's own take on the matter?

On "The Real Slim Shady," he raps, "You think I give a damn about a Grammy?/ Half you critics can't even stomach me, let alone stand me."