The Authenticity of 8 Mile
By Dwayne Hunter

8 Mile, which was released in 2002, was directed by Curtis Hanson and starred rap artist Eminem, Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer, and Brittany Murphy. The plot of the film follows Eminem’s character Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith Junior as an up-and-coming rap artist who lives in a rough section of Detroit, Michigan. This film portrays the life and culture of the underground rap scene. There are a few reasons why 8 Mile is a look into the underground rap scene. To begin with, the viewer is exposed to the harsh living conditions that many rap artists have to endure during their quest to become successful rap artists.

Another reason this film is a portrayal of the underground rap scene is because during the film, Eminem’s character has to go to a day job that he does not like in order to get enough money to live. By having this element in the film, it shows how hard it is for a rap artist to come from such harsh poverty and try to become a mainstream rap artist.

8 Mile is a very realistic look into the world of underground rap music. With most of the film shot in Detroit, the film has an authentic feel that allows audiences to witness the actual living conditions that many rap artists deal with. Having a real rap artist in Eminem be the star of the film also gave the film authenticity. Since Eminem personally went through many of the events his character did, the film seemed more believable.

The soundtrack to 8 Mile is a huge factor in helping make this film as genuine a portrayal of the underground rap community as possible. Most of the songs on the soundtrack were rap songs. The songs were from different time periods of rap. For example, earlier rap artists like Cypress Hill and Naughty By Nature have music on the soundtrack. Current rap artist like Eminem and Outcast also have their music on 8 Mile’s soundtrack. By listening to this soundtrack, one could hear the evolution of rap music and have a better understanding of just how far the sound of rap music has come since its inception. For example, by listening to earlier rap artist like Cypress Hill, one can hear how rap music was made in the early 1990’s. Then by listening to Eminem, one can hear all of the advancements in sampling technology that make rap music what it is today.

The key song on the soundtrack to 8 Mile is entitled “Loose Yourself” by Eminem. This song is featured throughout 8 Mile, and the film shows how this song started and how it changed numerous times before becoming a finished product. By showing the creation of “Loose Yourself” the film demonstrates how much work and talent goes into the process of making a rap song. Had the process of making this song been left out of the film, it would not have been as easy to understand how talented Eminem’s character is and how hard working he is.

Before making this film Eminem was not a very experienced actor, but he is able to portray the lifestyle of an underground rap artist extremely well. By bringing in some of his own experiences when he was an underground rap artist, Eminem is able to give 8 Mile a more accurate portrayal of the rap community. Had this film starred someone who did not know much about the underground rap community, audiences would not see the film as being authentic. Additionally, the supporting actors in 8 Mile helped to portray what it is like to be involved in the underground rap community. For example, Mekhi Phifer’s character is involved in underground rap and developed a friendship with Eminem’s character and pushed him to pursue being a rap artist when Eminem’s character wanted to quit and remain trapped in the harsh living conditions that had shaped his entire life.

In conclusion, 8 Mile is an accurate portrayal of the life and struggles of underground rap artist. With the release of 8 Mile, rap music has become completely mainstream. By having a major film studio produce a film about the rap community, it shows how acceptable and profitable rap music has become in American culture. The importance of making an authentic film about rap music is important because by comparing 8 Mile to Rappin’ (1985), which is one of the earliest films about rap music, it becomes apparent that films about rap music are not as good if they are not authentic. 8 Mile is the most authentic film about the rap community because it shows everything that goes into becoming a successful rap artist.