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As artist or sociopath, Eminem is cashing in

SHARE As artist or sociopath, Eminem is cashing in

When I was just a little baby boy my mamma used to tell me these crazy things /She used to tell me my daddy was an evil man/She used to tell me he hated me /But then I got a little bit older and I realized she was the crazy one. . . . — "Kill You," 2000.

Nearly a year ago, Marshall Mathers — known to the world as Eminem — was sued by his own mother for slander, for comments he made during interviews with various media, ranging from Rolling Stone to the online magazine The Source.

Debbie Mathers-Briggs said her son caused her emotional distress, including diminished self-esteem, humiliation, sleepless nights, harm to her credit rating and even loss of her mobile home, according to a lawsuit she filed in the Macomb County Circuit Court in Michigan last June. She went looking for a $10 million settlement.

A couple of weeks ago, Mother Mathers' attorney proposed a $2 million settlement to the prodigal son, but the rapper reportedly balked at the proposal and refused to settle, according to MTV News. Negotiations are ongoing.

The Salt Lake Valley will get a taste of this mouthy rapper's works when he appears as part of Dr. Dre's "Up In Smoke Tour," scheduled to make a stop at the E Center in West Valley City tonight. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at all Smith'sTix outlets, the E Center box office or by calling 467-TIXX or 1-800-888-TIXX.

Also on the bill is Dre himself, Snoop Dogg and Warren G. Earlier, Gangsta rapper Ice Cube was part of the line-up but had to take a leave because he has some acting commitments.

Still, according to USA Today, the show is a remarkable display of theatrics, heavy beats and hard-core rapping poses.

And Eminem seems to be making the most of his career, thanks to the lawsuits and other personal tragedies that have become routine in his life. In fact, the claim by his mother is the least of his problems.

The Detroit-based rapper reportedly had a clean rap sheet until he was arrested twice in two days for apparent weapons violations in early June. Eminem pulled down a felony charge of possession of a concealed weapon and a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a firearm in public after he allegedly threatened Douglas Dale, who is affiliated with rival rap group Insane Clown Posse, according to the Associated Press.

In addition, the rapper has been slapped with charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed weapon without a license, after he was arrested for apparently accosting John Guerra, who was seen kissing Eminem's wife, Kimberly. According to Macomb County court documents, Eminem allegedly approached the couple and pointed a handgun at Guerra's face and repeatedly threatened to kill him.

And a few weeks ago, Kimberly reportedly succumbed to the pressures of being Eminem's wife when she allegedly tried, unsuccessfully, to take her own life after attending one of her husband's concerts.

We goin' to the beach/Grab a couple of toys and let dada strap you in the car seat/Where's mama? She's takin' a little nap in the trunk/Oh, that smell, dada must have run over a skunk. . . . Don't worry about the little boo-boo on her throat/it's just a little scratch, it don't hurt/Her was eatin' dinner while you was sleepin' and spilled ketchup on her shirt/Mama's messy isn't she/We'll let her wash off in the water/and me and you can play by ourselves, can't we?/Just the two of us. . . . —"97 Bonnie & Clyde," 1999.

Eminem is probably one of the most successful rappers in the business. His style rivals Snoop Dogg, 2Pac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. Even Ice-T's thrash-metal project Body Count, along with its controversial single, "Cop Killer," hasn't raised the ruckus that "Marshall Mathers LP" has.

Gangsta rap has always gloried in misogyny, violence and drug use. But Eminem has managed to bring all of it graphically into the mainstream, according to Kurt Loder, the program director at MTV.

"Here, after all, is a man who not only has no second thoughts about making a crude joke about the paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve," Loder wrote about the album in an editorial for MTV News. "He also hesitates not a moment in rhyming it with another tasteless jibe about the late skiing enthusiast Sonny Bono crashing into some trees."

The crudeness paid off. The "Marshall Mathers LP" spent eight weeks at the No. 1 position on Billboard's Top 200 Albums Chart. And though it's only been out for 10 weeks, total, it has already sold more than 5 million copies.

This week, the album rests at No. 4.

They say I can't rap about being broke no more/They didn't say I can't rap about coke no more. Slut! You think I won't choke no whore/Till her vocal cords don't work in her throat no more/These (bleep-bleep) are thinking I'm playin', thinking I'm sayin' this (bleep) 'cause I'm thinkin' it just to be sayin' it/Put your hands down, (bleep), I ain't gonna shoot you/I'm gonna pull YOU to this bullet and put it thru you! — "Kill You," 2000.

It might be a coincidence that Eminem had not been arrested or charged with any crime until 10 days before the "Up In Smoke" tour kicked off in Chula Vista, Calif., on June 15. But then again, look at the guys he's touring with.

Twenty-eight-year-old Snoop Dogg — real name Calvin Broadus — was arrested when he was 18 for possession for sale of a small amount of cocaine and served a year in the Los Angeles County jail. He learned to rap while serving additional months for violating his parole, according to a 1996 biography from Death Row Records.

Back in 1993, Snoop was arrested and charged with the murder of Philip Woldermariam, a rival gang member who died from gunshot wounds during a drive-by shooting. Snoop and his bodyguard, McKinley Lee, were eventually found not guilty, but that didn't stop Snoop from releasing a single and a long-form video called "Murder Was the Case."

Ironically, while Snoop was in jail awaiting the trial, Billboard named him Male Artist of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards.

As for Dr. Dre — born in 1965 as Andre Young — he, too, has had his run-ins with the law.

Back in 1992, he violated his probation by breaking another rapper's jaw; he was convicted for assaulting a police officer in a New Orleans hotel, and he served time for slamming a female TV talk-show host into a wall at a Hollywood club in 1991, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Maybe Eminem felt a little unworthy of being in the presence of Dre and Snoop. Maybe he's just an insecure little boy wanting some attention. Or maybe he is a sociopath who enjoys exploiting young music lovers, who are spending millions of their hard-earned money on his albums.

Then again, he could be a bona fide artist. His raps are tight, concise and seem to come off the top of his head. He's got a knack for writing picturesque anecdotes, which are so vivid that legal authorities and music critics worry about his immediate family's safety.

Or maybe he's just an ordinary guy who got the break of a lifetime.

Run around screamin 'I don't care, just bite me'/I think I was put here to annoy the world/And destroy your little 4-year-old boy or girl/Just Marshall Mathers. I'm not a wrestler guy/I'll knock you out if you talk about me/Come and see me on the streets alone if you (bleep) doubt me/And if wanna run your mouth/Then come and take your best shot at me/Is it because you love me/That y'all expect so much of me. . . . " — Marshall Mathers, 2000.

E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com