“Is 8 Mile still relevant 10 years later?” she (who shall remain nameless) asked. All of the eyes in the tiny room darted over with the look of a simultaneous yet friendly “Duh!” It was seemingly an obvious answer to a very valid question on the heels of the flick’s 10 year anniversary.
About a month ago I sat in front of a mounted flatscreen watching 8 Mile for probably the 107th time. Exaggeration, yes, but it sure felt like it. It debuted my freshman year in college to a crop of eager hip-hop fans and devout Eminem followers. But the film meant the most to the natives of Motor City. The Motown era had been long gone. Detroit hadn’t been the heart of exceptionally great musical talent in years. That was until Eminem. Then 8 Mile.
Not only is 8 Mile still relevant it’s a cultural marker of a specific time in hip-hop. By no means was it the first fictional movie based on an aspiring rapper, but it set the standard for any movies of the same ilk that followed. The storyline was believable. It felt authentic. You were invested in the friendship of B-Rabbit (Eminem), Sol George (Omar Benson Miller), Future (Mekhi Phifer) and Cheddar Bob (Evan Jones); and chose sides in their rivalry with Papa Doc (Anthony Mackie) and Wink (Eugene Byrd) the rest of the Free World. And you gave a side-eye to Alex (Britney Murphy) for her groupie-esque actions. The casting could not have meshed better.
To mark its importance in film and hip-hop, VIBE magazine‘s October/November issue put Eminem on the cover. The cover story wasn’t the standard feature on Em alone. Instead the cast reunited for an interview filled with never heard before tidbits about the movie’s making. Not just any film’s anniversary makes it on to one of the most respected hip-hop magazine’s cover.
As I sat on the floor watching 8 Mile last month I didn’t think about what it meant 10 years later, or how my countless friends from Detroit–if you know anyone from Detroit you know they love their city unconditionally–felt seeing only a glimpse of their hometown portrayed through the lens of hip-hop. I actually didn’t think much of anything. I was too busy immersed in the film, reciting lines, as if it was the first time way back during freshman year. What that means as it relates to its significance today, 10 years later–I’m not sure. It has to mean something, though.
[Photo: Universal Studios]