In the strangest convergence of underground and mainstream since Chuck Manson met the Beach Boys, Eminem made his first Detroit appearance since releasing his now-platinum-selling Slim Shady LP at BTM Productions"True Masters" rave Saturday night. The scene outside – as could be expected – was a madhouse, with a line 15 ravers wide still a block long just an hour before the Slim One’s 1:45 a.m. appearance.

But to BTM’s credit, the Mack and Bellevue space – home to their last booking coup, which brought Wu-Tang Clan’s resident eccentric Ol’ Dirty Bastard in last February – sure didn’t feel like an outlaw party. In fact, with its surprisingly mellow, biker-gang security force – a kinder, gentler Altamont, anyone? – and omnipresent rave-scene lawyer Barry keeping the stage orderly, and the warehouse remarkably under DPD radar (a few cops did stop by for autographs for their kids), the party felt more like a packed concert than a rave, give or take the sea of nitrous balloons and glowsticks. Which isn’t to say the excitement wasn’t there. In fact, DJ Mike Z spinning Jeff Mills’ rave anthem "The Bells" made a weird kind of underground sense leading up to the opening sets by Eminem’s former cohorts in the Detroit hip-hop underground scene, Da Ruckus, with guest rapper Paradime, Da Brigade, as well as rhymes by Bizarre, who delivered an apt summation of the night when he freestyled, " … from the 3-1-3, the only girls who’ll fuck me here are on Ecstasy."

For his part, Eminem didn’t disappoint, coming onstage in a "HONKY" T-shirt flanked by bodyguards as flashpot pyrotechnics – Detroit Rock City!! – went off on the opening beat of "Brain Damage." Even though the onstage entourage of rap scenesters basking in reflective glory threatened to overwhelm his performance at times, Eminem showed why his skills have carried him platinum. He and MC Proof freestyled over Redman’s "Pick It Up," covered (!) Dr. Dre’s "Nuthin’ But a G Thang" before tightening up for "Role Model," "Just Don’t Give a Fuck" and "Still Don’t Give a Fuck." So tight were these that the closing "MTV Spring Break" anthem, "My Name Is," seemed strangely anticlimactic.

But the party didn’t stop there. After Eminem’s set, J-Money dropped uptempo, trick-happy tracks, while tag-teamsters Rectangle and Miami bass king Magic Mike tricked three copies of Queen’s "Flash Gordon" theme on as many turntables. Pakman was rewarded for having to shield his gear from the dance floor mob during Eminem by turning in his own set of spacesuit groovebox techno. By the time Frankie Bones ended the night with inspired non-techno tracks (house, proto-jungle breakbeats), the mood of the 1500 or so ravers was still pretty up there. Also enjoying the festivities were several underage gals who dropped top for the Eminem photo-op.

Promoter Ty Manica tried to keep media tipsters in check, ignoring calls from all the news stations and having the dailies’ reporters searched for hidden cameras – "Fox 2 News’ ‘Crave the Rave’ fucked that up, so they figured they’d come in on the sneak," said Manica. And – perhaps strangest of all – he listened incredulously to reports that 89X was playing his info line message giving directions to the pre-sale-only party over the air.

Meanwhile, Eminem will film Sway ’n’ Tech’s "Wake Up Show Anthem" video with RZA and Kool G Rap, as well as his own vid, probably for "Role Model" – with Dre directing again – before bringing the "Slim Shady Tour" to the State late May. As for "True Masters," safe to say it’s the first time the Detroit rave scene has hosted a Rolling Stone cover boy, but with other parties planned by both BTM and System in May and July, the Detroit underground is back, even if for better or for worse, it’s with an arena-rock-sized profile.

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