Wildly famous white rapper, Eminem, has released some of the most popular music of our current generation. Regarded as being instrumental in tearing down racial barriers in the music industry, it is somewhat surprising, then, that his first song is littered with racist jabs.
Eminem’s first song was “Foolish Pride.” The song details his scorned state over his breakup with a black girlfriend. Recorded in 1988, Foolish Pride is a far cry from the masterpieces that Eminem has released in the years since.
When Foolish Pride was first unearthed back in 2003, the magazine owners of The Source used the audio in an effort to besmirch the name of Eminem. In fact, they went so far as to hold a press conference so that they could play the audio for the world to hear.
It appeared as if Ray Benzino and Dave Mays, owners of The Source, were on a mission to damage Eminem’s career. They insisted that Foolish Pride not be swept under the rug.
During the press conference, Benzino stated, “We gotta treat this the same way you treat Mike Tyson, like you treat Kobe Bryant, like you treat R. Kelly, like you treat O.J. Simpson.”
Eminem immediately responded to the press conference held by Benzino and Mays. He stated that he was not racist and that he had made the track when he was a mere 15 years old.
On the matter, Eminem responded, “I reacted like the angry, stupid kid I was. I hope people will take it for the foolishness that it was, not for what somebody is trying to make it into today.”
Furthermore, Eminem made it clear that he believed the efforts of Benzino and Mays were due to a grudge that they had against the rapper. He also argued that this grudge bled over into Shady Records and the other artists under its label.
“Ray Benzino, Dave Mays, and The Source have had a vendetta against me, Shady Records, and our artists for a long time,” Eminem added.
“The tape they played today was something I made out of anger, stupidity, and frustration when I was a teenager. I’d just broken up with my girlfriend, who was African-American, and I reacted like the angry, stupid kid I was.”
More to the Story
Interestingly, research shows that Shady/Aftermath had been in a lengthy feud with The Source for quite some time.
Just a year prior to holding the press conference on Foolish Pride, Benzino rapped about Eminem in a negative light, accusing him of being nothing more than an updated version of Vanilla Ice.
Perhaps even more telling is that after Foolish Pride was played at the press conference, Benzino and Mays refused to take any questions about the song. They wouldn’t say how they acquired it or where it came from.
Even Eminem’s manager, Paul Rosenberg, claimed that he had no knowledge of the track, nor did Eminem. However, Eminem’s later comments on the song would affirm that it is indeed him rapping the racist lyrics.
Adding Fuel to the Fire
Benzino and Mays stated that they planned to include a CD in a future issue of The Source that included Foolish Pride. They weren’t kidding, as they did just that in issue #173 (February 2004).
Notes on the inclusion of the CD state, “In an attempt to suppress several blatantly racist songs Eminem recorded back when he was 21 years old, his record company, Shady Records, sued The Source this past December.
“In a landmark decision by federal judge Gerald E. Lynch on Monday, December 22, The Source was given the right, in the interest of freedom of the press, to include a total of 20 seconds from the songs on this CD.”
Including such a brief amount of the song seems petty and only serves to further cement the desire of Benzino and Mays to tarnish Eminem’s record.
A Waste of Time
The attempts made by Benzino and Mays did little, if anything, to derail the white-hot stardom of Eminem. Since that press conference was held, Eminem has released hit after hit.
Although his star has faded as he has matured, there are few that are on the level of Eminem. While Foolish Pride may have racist lyrics, it’s important to recognize how far the rapper has come since then and how much he has matured as an artist.
Besides, one need only look at the company Eminem keeps to determine whether he is truly racist.