Eminem’s math envy

Lose yourself in the digits

This is what you see if you search for If Eminem was a math guy on the internet.  
License undetermined, owner apparently  www.teachpi.org

Olivier Fouquet, a number theorist at Orsay, wrote a few weeks ago to point out some rap lyrics I might have wanted to include in Chapter 8.  Eminem reveals his own math envy twice on The Eminem Show (2002).   In Goodbye to Hollywood, his complaint

What about math, how come I wasn’t ever good at that?

is not merely rhetorical.  Sandwiched as it is between

This is not a game, this fame, in real life this is sick


I’m trapped, if I could go back, I never woulda rapped
I sold my soul to the devil I’ll never get it back

the man from Detroit is saying clearly how much he wishes he could be like the authors of this and similar blogs.  And for his admirers who haven’t yet put M & M together, there’s this from The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013).

I’d count my blessings, but I suck at math

Back on the Eminem Show, White America features yet another mathematical line:

Look at my sales
Let’s do the math: if I was black, I woulda sold half

This is, as Fouquet points out, a self-referential indictment of the charisma of the author of the best-selling album of 2002; but it also highlights the contrast between Eminem’s math envy and the math identification of Sun Pharaoh in Omnicron from the Jedi Mind Tricks album with the long title The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological and Electro-Magnetic Manipulation of Human Consciousness (1997):

Scientifical madness
Eliminating masses with mathematical tactics

Strategic, electronical, weaponry fucking up your anatomy Insanity, inviting thee
Atomically bombing the fraudulent MC
Escorting he, with battle strategy

Confusion weaponry cause fatality
Intergalactic tactics shine like metallics
With mathematics, I leave your whole clique splattered

This is consistent with the general tenor of Chapter 8 (The Science of Tricks) and specifically with the claim that, “there’s no stigma attached to mathematics!” in African-American popular music.  But I’ll leave the theorizing to specialists.


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