MARSHALL? – SWEET!

The superstars give their total support to the controversial rapper's on the eve of his proposed appearance at the Grammys...

MADONNA, ELTON JOHN and STEVIE WONDER have leapt to the defence of EMINEM in separate letters to the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

When approached by the paper and asked if they felt Eminem’s inclusion at the Grammy Award Ceremony, during which he will duet on chart-topper ‘Stan’ with Elton John, was a ‘stain’ on the prestigious event, each registered a categorical ‘no’.

Madonna asked “What is the big deal about Eminem?… I like the fact that Eminem is brash and angry and politically incorrect. At least he has an opinion. He’s stirring things up, he’s provoking a discussion, he’s making people’s blood boil. He’s reflecting what’s going on in society right now. That is what art is supposed to do.”

She added, “And after all he’s just a boy. Thank God he’s rebellious and not well-groomed. He gets my vote.” Madonna also addressed claims that his lyrics were offensive, saying: “I find the language of George W. [Bush] much more offensive.” She signed her letter ‘Mrs Ritchie’.

Meanwhile, Elton John said he felt accusations of homophobia in Eminem’s lyrics were laughable. “As a gay artist, I’m asked by a lot of people, ‘But what about the content of Eminem’s music?’ I think there is far more humour on the album than people think. It appeals to my English black sense of humour.

“When I put the album on the first time, I was in hysterics from laughing. We live in an age of political correctness where you can’t say this or that. I honestly don’t think people will go out and start beating and killing people because of this album.”

He added that he thought ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ was the album of the year. “The production is sensational, with lots of melody, and the lyrics are just amazing. He can squeeze so many words into a line, and his rhythmic ability is quite amazing.”

Stevie Wonder was more circumspect in his praise, saying that though he doesn’t “agree necessarily with every single thing that Eminem says”, he believes the rapper is essential.

“Rap to me is a modern blues,” he wrote, “a statement of how and where people are at. For someone to say this is a disgrace to the Grammys, come on. There was a time when blues was called a disgrace. I think art is a reflection of our society, and people don’t like to confront the realities in society. We dance forever around the issues, and [embrace] songs about unity and love. But until we really confront the truth, we are going to have a Tupac or Eminem or Biggie Smalls to remind us about it – and thank God. They force people to look at realities in society.”

However, Wonder said he’d draw the line at allowing use of a sample of one his own tracks. “If someone wants to use a sample of one of my songs in a record that talks about women as “hos,” I won’t let them. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the rapper or that I don’t think some of the stuff isn’t funny. It’s just not who I am musically.”

The Grammy award ceremony will be held tomorrow (February 21) night in Los Angeles Staples Center. It was revealed today that organisers will sit Eminem right in front of gay superstar George Michael. [url=]Click here to read the letters.