Imagine a cross between Snoop Dogg
and Buddy Holly
and you've got Eminem -- post-gangsta rap's great white dork. With a wicked tongue, rhyme skills that would stun John Donne, and a flow that suggests Lenny and Squiggy more than Mike D or MCA, this son of the mean streets of urban Detroit might be the best white rapper of all time. His Dr. Dre
-produced debut is a confrontational, offensive, undeniably funny update on the usual shock-rap shtick. On cuts like "My Name Is," "My Fault," and his hilariously grim response to Will Smith's "Just the Two of Us" ("'97 Bonnie & Clyde") his wit, imagery, and brilliant sense of comedic irony are unprecedented. Dre's production is hands off -- this is Em's show, folks -- and a little more musical richness might have made these 20 cuts fly by a bit quicker. Still, taken in regular doses, a few choice cuts at a time, this is the hip-hop breakthrough of 1999.