“In the future, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes.” This quote from Andy Warhol might have been seen as self-deprecating since his art freely borrowed out of pop culture from soup cans to superstars like Marilyn Monroe. The irony is that over 18 years after his death, he may be as well or better remembered for this quote as for his artwork. With the explosion of “reality television” that turns previously unknown citizens into household names, the “celebreality” shows that exploit the once-famous, and the internet’s own world wide web where if you’re crazy or interesting enough (or both) people will read your website, the quote now reads like prophecy. These days it feels like actors, artists, comedians, musicians and the like are constantly juggling between all the different forms of media either to get that fifteen or to add a few more minutes to the clock before it runs out.
Miilkbone’s 15 minutes were almost up before the stopwatch even clicked. In a way he was a victim of bad timing with his 1995 album “Da Miilkcrate.” At a time after the Vanilla Ice backlash and before the rise in popularity of Eminem, white rappers were viewed by both the hip-hop community and the public at large as little more than a joke. Thanks to Rob Van Winkle, even established and respected artists like the Beastie Boys and MC Serch were on the defensive, with some viewing them as little more than cultural interlopers. While Miilk did have some skills and a decent selection of beats, there just wasn’t much incentive for Capitol Records to push his album that hard. They knew he was dead in the water in a market saturated with Wu-Tang albums, the first full length LP from Bone Thugs, and releases from 2Pac and Mobb Deep among others. The statement of the year was that rap fans wanted their MC’s hard and dirty, and it’s hard for even the most unbiased observer to think a whiteboy named “Miilk” is either.
Like a hip-hop version “The Surreal Life” Eminem breathed new life into his career and gave him a little more time on fame’s clock. Eminem’s star was just starting to rise when his “Slim Shady EP” was released, as the rapper was proving white MC’s could indeed do hip-hop music and culture proud with lyrics and songs that were tighter than Wendy Williams in spandex. Either because of the humor value or in an attempt to prove how serious he was about the art, Eminem namechecked and dissed other white MC’s with an album out in verse two of his song “Just Don’t Give a Fuck,” and even the seminal Miilkbone got mentioned: “I’m Nicer than Pete, but I’m on a Serch to crush a Miilkbone/I’m Everlast-ing, I melt Vanilla Ice like silicone.” The song was re-released as part of the “Slim Shady LP” when Eminem was signed to Aftermath/Interscope, and received an even wider audience – ironically only helping Miilkbone out more. Like any pro wrestler knows, personal conflicts are box office – the hotter the beef the more entertained people are going to be and the more they’ll watch. Not wanting to waste this opportunity the rapper with a second lease on life came back at Eminem with the scathing diss track “Dear Slim”:
“Dear Slim, before we start, I ain’t a fan
They call me Miilkbone, my nickname ain’t +Stan+
I’m writin this to tell you dog, I just bought your album
I threw it out the window and my kid started poutin
He didn’t hear what I heard, the words of a nerd flirtin with birds
Dissin me, I’m on the street like curbs
You say you’ll crush Miilkbone, you never kept the Serch
I stay right out in Jersey, you act like I left the earth
I made it easy for you and I found you
At the Sound Factory I’m solo while your whole crew surround you
I just wanted to battle Em, it’s win or lose
After yo’ whack show, we’ll go out and switch crews
Your crew said no, your ex said no
Only reason that I chill is cause Flex said so
So write me back soon, we’ll meet up all alone
And we’ll see who moans and groans, signed Miilkbone
Now who’s the one that said they don’t really ‘Give a Fuck’ – You!
And who’s the one swingin guns but you never buck – You!
And who’s the one that said they was out lookin for me? – You!
You killin my dog, I’ll kill your cat, that’s TRUE!”
If ever there was a surefire way of getting fifteen minutes of fame, battling with Eminem would be at the top of the list. The man juggled more beef than a meat packer at a chainsaw carnival on a daily basis. Everyone from Everlast to Ja Rule to Christina Aguilera (no pun intended) milked their disputes with the rapper by throwing back and forth jabs at him in songs. He’d punch, they’d punch back, and unfortunately for most people he’d usually land a knockout blow. Seriously in a punchline battle, who’s fucking with Eminem? The guy was winning MC battles before he got signed, and he only got more vicious after he got a deal and got cocky. Of course if you’re too cocky you can get upset by an upstart – just ask Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas – but that’s another story for another day. The real story here is that even though Miilkbone threw down the gauntlet and challenged Eminem to a fight, Eminem never hit him back. Eminem NOT responding to a diss? As unprecedented as that seems, Eminem let this one slide. Unless there’s a bootleg out there this writer hasn’t heard, Em never had a rebuttal to this song. Now feel free to speculate why Eminem didn’t respond, and while you’re thinking about it here are three possible reasons you can add to the list:
(1.) Eminem didn’t hear the song and/or nobody in his crew heard it.
(2.) Having heard the song, Em thought his diss was a joke and dismissed it.
(3.) Em realized by NOT responding he’d deny Miilk any more minutes of fame.
The first two reasons do seem somewhat unlikely. Eminem is obsessed with his own fame (as much as any celebrity is) and undoubtedly either heard the song or was told about it by his camp. In that case Eminem is unlikely to have taken it as a joke, since he’s taken potshots at people over much smaller insults. The most likely reason he didn’t respond is simply because he recognized Miilkbone was a marginal MC on the fringe of recognition, and that by responding to it he would unintentionally make Miilkbone a household name. The single greatest jab Em could throw would be to simply walk away, relegating him to irrelevant status. A wrestling promoter might know there’s money in Stone Cold trash talking about The Rock or vice versa, but who’s really going to care if either of them gets dissed by Joe Q. Jobber? Unless you suddenly plan to make Joe a star, it’s not worth their time to respond to the challenge, because it not only dignifies the challenge it brings him up to their level. That would be bad business if the guy is not talented enough to hang at that level – he’d look like a joke in a battle and people would lose interest. Nobody would pay money to see it. In all likelihood Eminem decided that he’d already given Miilkbone one shot at fame, didn’t think he could hang, and that there was just no money in it after that.
That didn’t stop Miilkbone from recording an almost hour long, 17 minute album entitled “U Got Miilk?” Aside from the fact the repeated use of the “double I” was not clever nor impressing anybody in rap, all those I’s may have unintetionally reminded people of I-I-I-I-Ice, Vanilla Ice. The cover of his album didn’t help matters. You’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but it’s hard not to question what credentials the guy has when he looks like a Corey Feldman photo with a Parental Advisory sticker and some rotated letter graphics one could do with Paint Shop Pro. The cover itself almost seemed to answer the unanswered question of why Eminem wouldn’t respond back. And just in case you thought this reviewer was needlessly inserting pro wrestling references into the review for no good reason, it was inspired entirely by Miilkbone’s “Skit” on track one, where he opens the album by doing impressions of Macho Man Randy Savage. I’m sure he had no idea that years down the road Macho Man would do an even more irrelevant rap album than his, but the irony here is not lost on me. When WCW went out of business and left Savage high and dry, he started calling out Hulk Hogan every time a mic was in front of his face, hoping to get Hogan to respond and thus propel him back to one more big payday. Even at his advanced age and rapidly deteriorating in-ring ability, Hogan can and does still headline pay-per-view events – he’s even got one coming up this Sunday. Why is Savage irrelevant these days? The same reason Miilkbone is. Hogan won’t call out Savage, Eminem won’t call out Miilkbone.
Andy Warhol may have said we’d all be famous for 15 minutes, but what he didn’t say was that it doesn’t hurt to have someone ALREADY famous put you in that spotlight. Famous people bought Warhol’s art, and Warhol himself painted famous people. You could call that sycophantic, but I think Warhol was having a good laugh at the whole thing when he made that famous remark. Miilkbone’s not laughing – his album almost screams of desperation to be famous, to be respected and loved in both hip-hop and around the world. Despite how goofy this motherfucker looks and the annoying way he spells his name, he DOES have MC skills in terms of his flow and breath control. Unfortunately cheesy cliched songs like “Sexy, Money, Drugs, Cars” and “War Fair” aren’t going to prove it to anybody. While “A Few Good Men” works, the only reason for that is that Tame One’s on it. “Twice as interesting cause I’m dif-fer-ent” quips Tame, and he’s right. From his Artifacts days onward Tame has always sounded like an MC that SHOULD be famous because his rap skills and vocal tone are so unique. Unfortunately in the context of “U Got Miilk” no one is going to hear it, because it’s buried under Miilkbone’s mediocrity. The lesson here is that when you’re looking for someone else to make you famous and you forget to come with good beats, good concepts and a good album cover while you’re waiting, you just play yourself. In the end Eminem didn’t have to crush Miilkbone, he crushed himself.