‘Whatever You Say I Am: The Life and Times of Eminem’ review

by Anthony Bozza

For the past few years, I have been one of the main points of Pagan advise and guidance for a lad who we’ll call Warriormail Mike. I feel like I’ve watched him grow up, that I’ve been as much mother as friend to him, at times. I’ve definitely been HPS – which is one of the reasons I’ve currently lost faith in that title. With Mike, everything that he mused upon eventually involved his wife, Star Wars, Witchgrove, car mechnanics or Eminem. That was his terminology and you had to find analogies in those categories or else you could be there all day.

I decided to cut out the middle man and learn about Eminem, so as to make it easier to find such analogies. I bought this book but, before I could read it, Mike was killed in an accident at work, on August 22nd, 2004. A few days later, I spotted this book in my room and promptly burst into tears. There was no reason for me to read it now. So I read it.


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I’m glad. This book has helped me through a time of personal religious and emotional crisis, which is a little strange given the subject matter! Let’s just say some lessons need to be applied. I bought it so that Pagan lessons could be fed through the analogy of Eminem’s persona, life etc. That happened. Just not the way I suspected.

Let me first say that this isn’t a biography of Marshall Mathers. That threw me at first, I was waiting for the ‘he was born on this date, at this place…’ kind of trivia, but it’s not like that. Bozza interweaves personal experience of being with Eminem, from the start of his career to the present day, with examinations of the issues around Eminem. One chapter is devoted to the history of Detroit, with emphasis upon its musical history. There are investigations in the issues of misogyny, youth trends, the context of American culture and the timing of Eminem, as well as the issues affecting the man himself.

I was able to explore the issue of identity – splitting your own personality into three and doing the whole ‘caught in the crossfire between childhood and stardom’ thing, then trying to integrate the three; the issue of how a working class background shapes your future workaholicism; approval, disapproval, pulling rabbits out of hats. I was able to explore a lot of personal issues right when I was losing my religion.

Originally appeared on
Today I Have Mostly Been Reading…
reproduced by permission.

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