What is 8 Mile?
8 Mile is a 2002 semi-biographical hip-hop drama film starring Eminem. The movie follows an aspiring/struggling white rapper named B-Rabbit. This is a stage name; as messed up as his mother (Kim Basigner) is in this movie, she at least had the presence of mind not to actually name him B-Rabbit; his real name is Jimmy Smith Jr., though we never meet Jimmy?s father; we do however meet his Mom?s boyfriend, Greg Buehl (Michael Shannon), who we know four things about: First, he?s only a few years older than Jimmy. Second, he?s an alcoholic. Third, he?s supposedly in line to get a big settlement check after being involved in a car accident. And fourth, as Jimmy?s mother put it, Greg doesn?t go down on her enough.
Any who, B-Rabbit is a part of group called ?The 313? with his friends Future (Mekhi Phifer), Cheddar Bob (Evan Jones), Sol (Omar Benson Miller) and DJ Iz (De?Angelo Wilson). The 313 begin feuding with a rival group called ?The Leaders of the Free World? after B-Rabbit freezes during a Rap Battle at an establishment called ?The Shelter.? As far as we know, the only function of The Shelter is to host Rap Battles, though it may also be where Rabbit?s Mom plays bingo. Perhaps this is just your run-of-the-mill rec hall. B-Rabbit?s friend Future is the MC of these events.
Throughout the movie, Eminem becomes romantically involved with a, um, promiscuous young lady named Alex (Brittany Murphy), who eventually cheats on him with a fella by the name of Wink. Wink is a radio DJ and a shady son of a gun who promised B-Rabbit studio time to record a demo, but in reality he?s been cozied up to the Free World all along.
This leads to a climactic series of Rap Battles at The Shelter, where B-Rabbit has to go head-to-head with three separate members of the Free World. At stake ? Bragging rights? The best table at the Chin Tiki? The rights to Alex?s services? Who the hell knows. But my goodness, the last twenty minutes of the movie are magical.
What is a Rap Battle?
A Rap Battle is when two individuals, who more often than not are at least above-average rappers, go head-to-head in a no-holds-barred, improvised lyrical showdown, with the goal being to hit their opponent with as many quality disses as possible in the time allowed; enough so that the audience in attendance feels compelled to declare you the winner of said battle. Rap Battles grew in popularity in the early 1980?s when rappers used these choral clashes to elevate themselves within the rap game.
Granted, I don?t know this for a fact, but Google does seem to back me up. I know this will come as a huge shock to everybody reading, but I don?t have any personal experience with Rap Battles, and I think it?s too late to try me hand at excelling in this field.
Is there anything else you need to know about 8 Mile before you watch the final three Rap Battles at The Shelter?
Let?s go with a bullet-heavy, speed-round approach to catch you up!
The movie starts with B-Rabbit puking all over himself ? likely his Mom?s Spaghetti ? ahead of his first Battle at The Shelter. Unfortunately, Rabbit didn?t get all of the nerves out along with the vomit. After a rapper named Lil? Tic goes first and calls Jimmy ?the Energizer Bunny,? Rabbit freezes and walks off the stage after only saying ?Hey yo.?
As if the night weren?t bad enough already, after Jimmy gets booed out of the shelter, he walks in on his Mom and Greg Buehl having sex in the trailer she lives in. Ya hate to see it. Literally. I?m sure Jimmy hated to see that.
Also living with Rabbit, Mrs. Rabbit and Greg Buehl in this trailer is Rabbit?s younger sister Lily, a little doll who would go on to play John Stamos? daughter on ER.
The same night that Jimmy and Alex hang for the first time at the Chin Tiki, the 313 and the Free World have their first showdown. Within the next couple days, Jimmy and Alex have sex at the car factory where Jimmy works, and the 313 and the Free World have another dust-up that ends with Cheddar Bob shooting himself in the leg.
After Cheddar Bob shoots himself in the leg, he decides he wants to be called MC Bob. Perhaps he feels that now since he?s wearing a bullet he has the street cred to take on a slightly harder name.
Greg Buehl finds out that Mrs. Rabbit is getting evicted from the trailer park and he says all sorts of nasty things to her as he?s on his way out. That?s just something Jimmy won?t stand for, so he beats Greg up in front of his sister (who is sobbing as the fight is going on) and his mother (who sobs after as she wonders if anyone will ever want her again). What a mess.
I feel weird saying that Alex ?cheated? on Jimmy since there is never any documented commitment between the two, and everything that happens in 8 Mile takes place in like a two-week span, but this is the way it?s framed within the movie, so ? Alex cheats on Jimmy with Wink at a recording studio.
Jimmy barges into the room and breaks up the studio sex, beating the holy hell out of Wink. It?s certainly the least fun that anyone has ever had with their pants arounds their ankles. By the time Jimmy gets home (back to the trailer park), Wink and the Free World are waiting for him and they return the favor. But hey, silver lining: Jimmy?s Mom went to Bingo and won $3,200, so they aren?t getting evicted from the trailer park anymore!
Thanks for Future?s prodding and the numerous altercations with the Free World, Jimmy decides to go to the next round of Rap Battles at The Shelter.
Was B Rabbit in danger of losing in the 1st Round to Lyckety Splyt before he showed his bare ass to the crowd?
Here?s the dirty little secret about 8 Mile that nobody likes to talk about because in some ways it ruins the movie: Aside from the final battle against Papa Doc, B-Rabbit really had to work for these wins. Would Rabbit have gotten the nod over Lyckety in Round 1 had he not ?walked his white ass back across 8 Mile,?? Sure, but it?s not a blowout. Lyckety held his own, and Rabbit didn?t really have any barbs that were too damaging. The ?worm with braids? line is a tad childish, although not factually incorrect. I don?t know who Erick Sermon is, but I assume that?s an on-point reference in 1995. The ?How can six dicks be pussies?? line stings not just Lyckety, but the entire Free World.
Meanwhile, Lyckety bashes B-Rabbit with just about every white stereotype under the sun. He compares him to New Kids on the Block, Vanilla Ice, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley and Nazi?s. Remember when everyone understood that Nazi?s were the worst kind of people? Good times!
B-Rabbit advances, but as Lee Corso would say, it was closer than the experts think!
Was Lotto robbed versus B-Rabbit in the Semi-Finals?
Yes! This might be one of my hottest movie takes, but if I were at The Shelter on that night ? nevermind the fact that this fictional Battle took place when I was three years old in real life ? I would?ve made some noise for Lotto, not B-Rabbit.
Not only did Lotto deliver a few lyrical roundhouses right on B-Rabbit?s chin ? as Rabbit put it, the Leave It To Beaver line almost killed him ? his stage presence was really something to behold. Watch the facial expressions and the exaggerated hand movements. The way he weaves in and out, occasionally rapping just inches away from Rabbit?s face, shows a serious amount of swagger. Note the way he breaks the touch barrier. He puts his arm around Rabbit and expresses mock regret about the prospect of Rabbit committing suicide due to the loss he?s about to be handed. Lotto condescendingly pats Rabbit on the shoulder as he tells him ?Fuck you, but have a nice day.? It?s a masterclass in Battle rapping.
Of course, Rabbit didn?t go down without a fight. He brilliantly flipped the Leave It To Beaver line on Lotto, and followed that up with a crack about Snoop Dogg getting a boob job, which he compounded later on, speaking as if he was Lotto?s tank top which was letting it?s owner know that he needed to move up a size or two. Most importantly, Rabbit called Lotto out on the fact that the material he used was awfully similar to what Lyckety Splyt used in the first round.
All things considered, I still lean Lotto. But of course, if Lotto wins this battle, we don?t get the powerful, satisfying ending that 8 Mile is mostly known for. B-Rabbit advances by the skin of his buck teeth.
When did B-Rabbit know he was going to beat Papa Doc in the Final?
Depending on how much of a clairvoyant you believe B-Rabbit to be, there are four potential answers to this question.
1. B-Rabbit potentially knew that he was going to beat Papa Doc in the Final when earlier in the movie he found out that Papa Doc?s real name was Clarence, and that Clarence went to Cranbrook (a private school), and that Clarence lived at home with his parents (who had a real good marriage). Rabbit had all of the ammo he could possibly ask for.
2. B-Rabbit potentially knew that he was going to beat Papa Doc in the Final when Papa Doc won the coin toss and foolishly allowed Rabbit to grab the mic first. An even bigger mistake was confidently saying, ?let that bitch go first? when he had no idea that he was about to walk into a fucking buzzsaw.
3. B-Rabbit potentially knew that he was going to beat Papa Doc in the Final right before he begins rapping, and we can see that Rabbit for sure knew it at this point, if not earlier, because of a subtle, almost undetected look on his face right before he starts to send Clarence back to his parents nicely renovated basement.
4. B-Rabbit potentially knew that he was going to beat Papa Doc in the Final when he tosses the mic to Papa Doc and Papa Doc has a look on his face like he?s about to vomit his Mom?s spaghetti all over himself.
8 Mile: Overrated, Underrated, or Properly Rated?
I?d say that 8 Mile is a tremendously underrated film. Eminem far exceeded just about anyone?s expectations as an actor, and the rest of the cast is filled out with quality pros who give above average performances. The music is excellent and anchored by ?Lose Yourself,? a song that won a Grammy AND an Oscar. The story is original and authentic and compelling. And the climactic final twenty minutes of the film deliver in a huge way.
What happened to some of the characters in 8 Mile after the movie ends?
Lyckety Splyt moved to Batavia, New York and got an Ice Cream shop named after him.
Lotto turned out to be a really fun guy who has since won two NBA Finals MVP Awards.
After freezing at The Shelter, Papa Doc stepped down as leader of the Free World. And he no longer goes by ?Papa Doc.? He?s just Clarence now, and Clarence convinced his parents ? who still to this day have a real good marriage ? to pay for his tuition at the University of Detroit Mercy. He graduated with a bachelor?s degree in Psychology with a minor in African American Studies.
Alex moved to New York City for a modelling job and did that for a while. She dabbled in porn for a bit too, but eventually settled down and is now a waitress.
The 313 eventually broke up because they all realized that Future was kind of an arrogant, pushy asshole. Cheddar Bob, Sol and DJ Iz still hang.
B-Rabbit?s Mom (Stephanie) still lives in the same trailer park she did in 1995. She still plays Bingo semi-regularly and has a knack for winning right around the time she?s about to be evicted.
As I mentioned before, Lily went on to be John Stamos? daughter on ER.
Jimmy Smith Jr. flew out to California and met Dr. Dre. Not too long later, he changed his name to Eminem.