'I know how to rap. Other than that, I'm a fucking scumbag,' he writes about 'Rap God'
Genius allows fans to discuss the meaning behind popular lyrics, often inviting the artists themselves to annotate their own work. Now, Eminem has followed on from the likes of Rick Rubin, Grizzly Bear, A-Trak and The-Dream in annotating his songs.
Eminem writes about the first verse from ‘Sing For The Moment’: “This is where I was dealing with critics who didn’t understand why people were identifying with me. I realized I was becoming like the rappers that I looked up to as a kid. I identified with and loved LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. I felt like if everybody didn’t understand their music, it didn’t matter — they were speaking to me. So that’s what I was trying to make people realize on this track. I may not be shit to you, but there’s a kid in fucking Nebraska, or somewhere, that I’m talking to. I don’t care if you’re listening, because he’s listening. That’s who I’m directing my material at.”
Speaking about the lyric “Ungh, school flunky, pill junkie/But look at the accolades, these skills brung me” from ‘Rap God’, the rapper explains: “I don’t ever want to be too braggadocious. If I’m going to brag, let me pull it back with lines like ‘school flunky, pill junkie.’ I’m a fucking waste of life. I’m a waste of sperm. I am a fucking outcast of society, I am a piece of shit. But I know how to rap. Other than that, I’m a fucking scumbag. I’m worthless. Or this is what I’ve been told.”
Eminem also discusses the differences between writing about himself and writing about a character, particularly in ‘Live For The Moment’, a song recorded for 8 Mile, in which Eminem starred as rapper Jimmy Smith Jr.
He writes: “That was one of those songs where I remember telling [manager] Paul [Rosenberg], ‘I don’t know how to write about someone else’s life.’ Because the movie is not me; the movie is Jimmy Smith Jr. So I’m playing this character, but I have to make parallels between my life and his, in this song. I gotta figure out how to reach a medium. It would sound so corny if I was just rapping as Jimmy Smith Jr. How is that going to come from a real place?
“If I’m telling you that my daughter doesn’t have diapers, I need this amount of money to pay my bills this month, and it’s some real shit I’m telling you, then you know that it’s just coming from me. That was the trick I had to figure out — how to make the rhyme sound like him, and then morph into me somehow, so you see the parallels between his struggles and mine.”
Referring to his 1999 breakthrough hit ‘My Name Is’, Eminem said: “We saw the video for the first time on MTV. It came on really late at night. That’s when it was like, ‘OK, this isn’t a joke anymore.’ We had kind of felt that, being in the studio with Dre and shit. But once that single came out, my life changed like that. Within a day. Just going outside. I couldn’t go outside anymore. In a day. It went from the day before, doing whatever the fuck I wanted to do, because nobody knew who the fuck I was, to ‘Holy shit, people are fucking following us.’ It was crazy. That’s when shit just got real — it was a lot to deal with at once.”
Meanwhile, Eminem has previewed new music in the trailer for new boxing film Southpaw. The trailer features a previously unheard track by Eminem in which he can be heard rapping “Forgive me now”. The trailer can be seen here.
Eminem recently starred alongside Dr Dre and 50 Cent in a feature-length documentary on the Shady Records label.