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8 Mile Film

8 Mile is a film that somewhat has been based on the life of Eminem. I’ve chosen to use it as research as it showcases countless rap battles, while also giving background context to the life of a rap artist and where their influences might come from. Watching and understanding 8 Mile will help me plan my event in terms of setting, choosing an artist and trying to organise a successful event overall. With it being a semi-autobiographical narrative based on Eminem, the setting of Detroit is extremely relevant. Eminem spent much of his time growing up in Detroit, which in 8 Mile is depicted through the main character B-Rabbit. Using the appropriate setting is a vital element within film as it helps in delivering the correct theme, message, atmosphere, while also making it believable. Therefore Detroit was able to perfectly depict the themes of music and race in 8 Mile.

B-Rabbit sources inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. We follow his character going about his daily life spending time in the streets, working at Detroit Stamping and in the shelter. To get to work he has to take the “8 Mile” bus where he has time to take in the surroundings of the rough streets of Detroit. The area’s poverty is depicted through the run-down buildings such as a liquor store and a gun range. As he looks out he reflects and then brings out a sheet of paper that is already full of notes, revealing he is often encouraged and always writes his thoughts down. While listening to beats he further adds lyrics to the already mostly filled and scrunched paper. B-Rabbit uses the scene of Detroit to influence his notes, just like Nas used the setting of Queensbridge to base his powerful album Illmatic on. The lyrics from this scene ultimately turn into a song by Eminem titled “8 Mile” used in the film’s soundtrack. Sections of the song highlight B-Rabbit’s resentment of living in Detroit:

I just can’t do it, my whole manhood’s

Just been stripped, I have just been vicked

So I must then get off the bus then split

Man fuck this shit yo, I’m going the fuck home

World on my shoulders as I run back to this 8 Mile Road

Screenshots of B-Rabbit getting the 8 Mile bus

It’s a common theme and reality of Hip-Hop artists to write from their own personal experiences. Murray Forman further analyses this viewpoint in his book ‘The Hood Comes First - Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop’. He discusses that environments and spaces, including the city or the ghetto, mostly influence the narrative and stories in rapper’s songs. Forman reveals that the narrative tends to be a dominant cultural element in Hip-Hop that provides an understanding of space. Artists create intricate rhymes to tell “stories that vividly depict contemporary life.” (Forman, P.16).

Touching on themes such as race, there are many scenes in 8 Mile where B-Rabbit is dissed by other MC’s for not being a part of their crowd by mentioning other white artists. He is able to strike back by coming up with elaborate lyrics that secure the crowd’s attention. 8 mile manages to shed light on how freestyle competitions take place, as they have developed into a more obscure art form. For the purpose of being accepted by spectators, freestyles have to be “dope” (Pihel 253) rather than just smart and insulting. In B-Rabbit’s final battle he was able to win over the crowd by insulting his opponent as well as including inserts of his own life. Through incorporating Detroit as a space it allowed him to depict honest and authentic stories that built a powerful connection to the audience.

I know something about you

You went to Cranbrook, that’s a private school

What’s the matter dawg? You embarrasses?

This guy’s a gangster? His real name’s Clarence

And Clarence lives at home with both parents

And Clarence’s parents have a real good marriage

This guy don’t wanna battle, he’s shook

‘Cause there no such things as half-way crooks

He’s scared to death

He’s scared to look in his fucking yearbook, fuck Cranbrook

Seeing how the rap battles and freestyle competitions come to shape in 8 mile has been a worthy insight into noting the elements I need to prioritise when planning my event. Not only do I need to make sure I choose the right venue, setting and artist, I also need to make sure I find a way of keeping the audience engaged by focusing on themes and contexts they are familiar with and understand.

Screenshots of the final winning battle in 8 Mile



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