Last week, the corpse of a homeless man was discovered encased entirely in a block of ice in the basement of a city-centre skyscraper. Eminem grew up at the tail end of his town's decline from prosperity to despair.And he chronicled it all with outrageous energy, and a wicked sense of humor.
Then he was ushered into a black SUV and driven away. As the opening salvo in a musical renaissance that has been four years in the making, and will culminate very shortly in the release of an album that (if you believe the hype) could end up being one of the greatest records of recent times, it left a certain something to be desired. Today, Detroit is ground zero of America's economic meltdown, its motor industries bankrupt and its housing market worthless.
The 36-year-old white rapper, better known as Eminem but occasionally styling himself Slim Shady, turned up at the launch of his autobiography, The Way I Am, at a sports shop in Manhattan wearing the uncomfortable look of a man to whom fame and fortune have brought little in the way of happiness – and a healthy dose of insecurity.
Fellow guests, most of whom he'd personally invited, as it was, after all, his party, were ordered not to speak unless spoken to.
He was accused of glorifying misogyny, homophobia, bad language and violence. On one occasion, George Bush, upset by his lack of respect for the forces of conservatism, labelled him: "The greatest threat to America's children since polio." Yet, with time, he secured a following that stretched across every demographic of the record-buying public, inspiring fans as incongruously middle-of-the-road as Alan Yentob and Jenny Agutter.
In one headline-grabbing endorsement, confirming him as the favourite cultural influence of the chattering classes, a white-haired Seamus Heaney declared him, in all seriousness, the saviour of modern poetry. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude, but also his verbal energy." Then, at the height of his remarkable fame, Eminem disappeared. ALL FALL DOWN The CCC club, or at least its former premises, sits between a barber's shop and a pawnbroker on a desolate stretch of 8 Mile, the road that runs east to west across Detroit, separating the traditionally black inner city from its chiefly white suburbs.