The Real Slim Shady
The lyric “Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?” is one of the first things that came to my mind this morning as I was getting ready to wake my children up for their morning dog walk duty. Because I generally understand unbidden music from my unconscious mind as valuable information, I decided to put on this song from Eminem and listen to it while I tried to gently leave the fog of my dreams from sleep. For those of you who do not know this song, it is a lyrical piece by Eminem who is critically acclaimed as one of the greatest rappers of all time. Indeed, the lyrics are so well written, and even more well “spit" that it just makes me smile when I listen to it.
Brief moments of contemplation here and there since this morning have helped me to see why my unconscious mind has brought this song to me. While I believe the messages this song contains are useful for me, I believe they are also highly relevant for all of us who are on the path to realizing true power.
The demonstration of qualities and messages I found valuable in “The Real Slim Shady” are mainly the following three: the practice of inner dialogue, the willingness to embody one’s shadow self, and authenticity.
As the song opens, Eminem asks, “May I have your attention please? May I have your attention please? Will the Real Slim Shady please stand up?” Then, he launches into the song. Throughout this enthralling inner dialogue between Eminem and his critics and fans, he repeatedly answers the initial call for the “Real Slim Shady” by saying “Cause I’m Slim Shady, yes I’m the real Shady.” This call and response is not only between Eminem and the wider world out there, but also between him and his shadow self that represents the dark, repressed, reproached, and unpleasant aspects of who he is. By speaking disrespectfully about another great rapper Dr. Dré, pop singers such as Britney Spears, and taboo topics related to sex, Eminem gets fully in touch with the shadow self. In addition and in relation to the shadow self, a flair of authenticity is put on display as Eminem says that while “Will Smith doesn’t have to cuss to sell records…well, I do, so fuck him and fuck you too!” Eminem is who Eminem is, and Will Smith is who Will Smith is. And Eminem has “…got the balls to say it in front of y’all and I don’t gotta be false or sugarcoat it at all.” How liberating is this kind of authenticity? You can tell me if you have tried it. Finally, it seems that in order for Eminem to protect his shadow self, which is perhaps the most valued aspect of who he is, and indeed for us too, Eminem is more than willing to reject the allure of mainstream approval, which he declares via the words “You think I give a damn about a Grammy?”
Based on my brief analysis of “The Real Slim Shady”, I believe one can easily come to understand why Eminem is popular, and what he can teach us about embracing our shadow self. First, he knows the value of his shadow self unequivocally. This knowledge is not demonstrated intellectually or metaphorically. He owns it and he acts it out. Real power is felt from his words and his energy for this precise reason. Second, while authenticity is more than just embracing our shadow self, our authentic nature cannot begin to demonstrate its full power without the cooperation and integration of our repressed energies. One must be willing to put one’s hands into one’s personal “shit” and get down and dirty, or our love and kindness will have no power from which to speak. Finally, while the practices that help us to get in touch with our shadow self can be quite varied, a playful and effective way to invite it out from the shadows (pun intended) is to call it forward as Eminem shows us in his song.
True power is felt and recognized instantaneously when we are in its presence. It is of a different quality than power that is conferred by one’s social or financial position in the world, because true power enlivens us. It does not make us cower in fear. Let us call on the Slim Shady within. As Eminem says in his outro, “…guess there’s a real Slim Shady in all of us,” let us get in contact with “it”, and flip the bird to our inner critic and inner pleaser.