By Séamus Smyth


At his mentally weakest, Eminem was still able to conceive something astonishingly beautiful. The majority of his personal life was documented in his lyrics like a tabloid novel, yet his bout with depression was relatively hush-hush. His album titles were generally nothing more than references to his alter-egos, however “Relapse” was the first to comment on how Slim Shady, Marshall Mathers and Eminem were all feeling. Eminem was seriously down and it inevitably led to easily his worst album. “Relapse” proved false the correlation between drugs and creativity, yet for some reason the misery generated through “Beautiful” was still worthy of mass company.


Eminem’s lyrics do more than just blast shells into the sky and hope someone is listening. Each line of his bedazzles the ears and straps 10 lbs. of intellectual weight onto the mind of every listener bobbing their head. He delivers a dump truck of guilt on the rap world by pointing out the absurdity to not consider him the best word manipulator in the league, or at least include him in any top-ten list imaginable. He assaults the critics, humbles the  competition and does it with the help of the greatest chorus-performer hip-hop scribblers have ever documented.


The vivid descriptions and embarrassing confessions show that no one can give better directions to Rock Bottom Avenue than Slim Shady. “Being broke as hell” is as trite as any rap simile, which is why Eminem chooses to elaborate on what exactly this hell consists of. It is one of the tracks that made Slim Shady appear in the mirror for millions of fans in America when they were looking for someone to relate to. He had a young daughter, a broken marriage, and a wild fascination with rap. The main difference was of course that he was deeply gifted with hip-hop poetry, but it didn’t stop Eminem from creating an immediate following. “My daughter’s feet ain’t got no socks on em, and those rings you’re wearing look like they got a few rocks on em,” poignantly illustrated how desperate and skewed one’s perception becomes when money is in short supply. It was a shocking revelation for the rich and a painful snapshot of everyday life for the poor, ricocheting into the perfect storm of Eminem worship.


With the sensational identification audiences felt with Eminem, it inevitably would lead to borderline idolatry. Lyrics penetrate the soul on an hourly basis for many, but the way Eminem was able to describe the wild seasons of life was almost too visceral for many. One man in particular, Stan (Stalker+fan), failed tragically to separate the violent fantasies and even the awful hairstyle from what were only the nightmares of Eminem’s drug-inducing alter-ego, Slim Shady. Eminem’s ability to hold a cohesive dialogue between a stalker and Slim Shady through song was a subtle way of highlighting the top shelf talent that rap could offer. It was violent, it was aphoristic and beyond the murderous/suicidal fantasies, it was a genuine masterpiece.


It leaped past the hurdles and pylons set up around rap music and become a legendary anthem that soared beyond any particular genre. It’s the Eye of the Tiger, but only if the Tiger’s tail caught fire and he only had one chance to douse it in the nearest river. It’s the most bad-ass motivational speech kids ever heard and it would have saved elementary schools millions of dollars if they had just skipped the former addicts’ swan songs and just blared “Lose Yourself” during recess. The lifestyles of rappers catapult from poor to rich so quickly that it may seem like another lifetime for many of them. Yet the poverty and desperation never departed the soul of Slim because the fear was too real. Nobody took the lyrics of “Lose Yourself” more seriously than Eminem himself. Based on the fortune and acclaim he has come to receive, one would be a fool to not follow the example laid before us.