How Eminem Devastates The Competition On 'Rap God'
October 21st, 2013 2:30pm EDT
In rap music in 2013, everyone seems to want to be the ‘Savior’. Kanye West proclaimed himself to be a ‘god’ on the blatantly titled “I Am A God”, even foreshadowing beforehand on Yeezus at the end of “Black Skinhead”. A$AP Ferg even titled his debut Trap Lord. Argue the difference between lord and god all you want, but they seem nearly, if not ‘one in the same’. Jay-Z joined the boat as well on Magna Carta…Holy Grail. Why is everyone trying to be God? I’m unsure, but there sure have been plenty of ‘gods’ this year.
A couple of years ago, it was fine to be merely a ‘king’ (P$C’s “I’m a King” comes to mind as a perfect example), but now everyone has those ‘heavenly ambitions’, no matter how blasphemous they end up being. After Kendrick Lamar seemed to be the pre-season no. 1 of ’god-status’ in hip-hop (without saying so necessarily but insinuating such), veteran shock MC Eminem also seems to have an incredibly compelling, if sinful argument on his epic new single “Rap God”. As the new order of rap seems firmly afloat in 2013, Eminem certainly isn’t out to have his vibe or contributions to the game killed. For those lame-o’s that needed a reminder and for the generation that didn’t grow up with Marshall Mathers, well he’s back in a big way. Let’s analyze Eminem’s, um, gospel… And by the way, I’mma try to keep this as classy as possible, really.
Analyzing the Intro & Hook(s) Intro
Maybe Drake says it best on “Started On The Bottom”: “I done kept it real from the jump…” Eminem does just that as the intro foreshadows both the mood and the duration of “Rap God”:
“Something’s wrong, I can feel it (Six minutes, Slim Shady, you’re on)…” So what exactly is wrong? If you read into it as I do, I believe Eminem is suggesting there is quite a talent gap in hip-hop today and that after his six-minute masterpiece, the game-changing MC will once more restore the order or at least redirect the newbies onto the path of righteousness… err good rapping, LOL. Another interpretation of the end-portion “Six minutes, Slim Shady, you’re on…” is that during the six-plus minute duration of “Rap God” Eminem is truly on fire. Cocky and confident, but true. His relevance to the game is also confirmed by lyric “…you were just what the doctor ordered…”
The hook(s) for “Rap God” are pretty much the same, but the end of each hook relates to the proceeding verse, which could certainly be considered ‘higher level thinking’ in rap music these days. I’ll admit, as a musician and songwriter myself, I could stand to make the form more ‘unifying’ as Eminem does on each of the hooks here. The familiar portion of all three is as follows:
”I’m beginning to feel like a Rap God, Rap God / all my people from the front to the back nod, back nod…”
The end of the first hook is where the segue comes in with the first verse in mind: “…Now who thinks their arms are long enough to slapbox, slapbox / they said I rap like a robot, so call me Rapbot”. Can you guess what Eminem raps about at the beginning of his first verse? Yes, his fast paced, ‘intelligent’ rhymes. Proceding the first verse, the second hook is identical to the first except the final line states “Let me show you maintaing this sh*t ain’t that hard, that hard”.
The final hook is the most drastically different and should be (the third verse deserves such). It is as follows after the familiar portion: “…The way I’m racing around the track, call me Nascar, Nascar / Dale Earnhardt of the trailer park, the White Trash God / Kneel before General Zod this planet’s Krypton, no Asgard, Asgard.” Only Marshall Mathers could make comic books sound cool and gangsta in rap. Yep.
Analyzing the Verses Verse 1
Verse 1 is definitely filled with Eminem-isms. Segueing from the hook, Eminem is truly himself as he raps “But for me to rap like a computer must be in my genes / I got a laptop in my back pocket / my pen’ll go off when I half-cock it / got a fat knot from that rap profit.” Just those few lines alone are filled with multiple meanings. Essentially, the MC plays up the speed and agility of his midwest rhymes, the unthinkable wealth he has earned over his illustrious career, makes the obligatory inappropriate sexual reference while also arguably making a violent gun reference as well. Remember that Drake line I mentioned earlier? Eminem starts on fire.
He doesn’t stop there. He’s “made a living and a killing off it / ever since Bill Clinton was still in office / with Monica Lewinsky feeling on his nut-sack / I’m an MC still as honest / but as rude and as indecent as all hell…” True to form, Eminem takes the line too far, but it is just further confirmation of his musical contributions. He goes sort of oxymoronic when he spits “You don’t really wanna get into a pissing match with this rappity rap / packing a Mac in the back of the Ac, backpack rap crap, yep, yep yakety yak…” because he’s stating you should take him seriously, yet what he’s rhyming about is pretty dumb. Seriously though, he’s alluding to his incredible skills, hence why he is a ‘god’.
What better way to confirm his status than to go back to his most controversial days in the game? “I attempt these lyrical acrobat stunts while I’m practicing that / I’ll still be able to break a motherf**in’ table / over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half?” Yep, he purposely when there with the ‘f-word’ and not the ‘f-bomb’. He follows it up with “How could I know blow…” (ha ‘blow’) “…All I do is drop f-bombs, feel my wrath of attack / Rappers are having a rough time period, here’s a Maxipad / It’s actually disastrously bad for the wack / while I’m masterfully constructing this masterpiece as…” So apparently, he is calling ‘sucky’ rappers the ‘f-word’ because they are destroying the game. Also, it seems his reference to ‘f-bombs’ is not merely his own love for obscenity, but he is also suggesting that a number of rappers think that the word makes them exceptional MCs.
Generally on the second verse, Eminem spends his time teaching, reminiscing, and dissing a certain MC and those similar to that MC. Em segues from the foreshadowing hook, using it as a teachable moment like a coach or mentor: “Everybody want the key and the secret to rap immortality like I have got / well to be truthful the blueprint’s simply rage and youthful exuberance / everybody loves to root for a nuisance / hit the earth like an asteroid, did nothing but shoot for the moon since.” So basically use youthful angst and have a dream? Let me write that down. Reveling in his ‘professor status’, Eminem suggests “MC’s get taken to school with his music / cause I use it as a vehicle to bust a rhyme / now I lead a new school full of students.”
What about his credentials? Oh he shares them alright, as he is “…a product of Rakim, Lakim Shabazz, 2 Pac, NWA…” yeah you get the idea. He’s most proud of the fact he got to induct Run DMC into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. He does think his past demons will keep him from receiving his ‘Hall of Fame’ status (“Even though I walk in the church and burst in a ball of flames / only hall of fame I be inducted in is the alcohol of fame / on the wall of shame”).
The most epic moment of Verse 2 is the shots he takes at one of today’s ‘go stupid’ rappers Waka Flocka Flame. “You fags think it’s all a game ‘til I walk a flock of flames…” is the most obvious low blow. However being Eminem, he doesn’t stop there, incorporating his full arsenal of controversies to lyrically slaughter WFF. “…off a plank, and tell me what in the f**k are you thinking? / little gay looking boy / so gay I can barely say it with a straight face looking boy / you witnessing a massacre…” Indeed it is a massacre, as Eminem seems to treat liken ‘gay’ in a slang fashion as being wack but also doesn’t necessarily shy away from the homophobia of many churches or even perhaps the perceived homophobia that has been a characteristic, particularly of music during his prime.
Ever heard the saying “third time’s charm” or they “save the best for last?” Well Eminem drives his godly status home for sure in his final, most jam-packed verse. He picks up where the final hook of the song left off, rapping about Thor and Odin (“So you be Thor and I’ll be Odin, you rodent, I’m omnipotent…”) While it is cool Eminem chose to incorporate fictional characters, the main part to latch onto for the listener is the term “omnipotent” which is often use in reference to God. Being the twisted personality that he is, Eminem uses his rap omnipotence erotically when all is said and done: “…I should not be woken, I’m the walking dead, but I’m just a talking head, a zombie floating / but I got your mom deep…” (use your imagination!). Eminem definitely takes references to ‘yo momma’ to a new level. What’s incredible about the disgusting line is that there could be multiple interpretations besides the obvious.
In another savvy moment, Eminem compares unlike things such as poodles and dobermans to his elite status compared to his ‘pupils.’ After once again providing evidence for his greatness, he states that even though he has already left his mark, that he’s “…gotta keep a few punchlines just in case cause even you unsigned rappers are hungry looking at me like it’s lunchtime.” At least he’s prepared you might say.
What better way to address his shocking music of the past than to bluntly revisit it? “…But sometimes when you combine / appeal with the skin color of mine…” (reference to the whole white rapper thing in a genre where the majority are black males) “…you get too big and here they come trying to censor you.” Yes, that’s true. The he goes on to tackle “…that one line on “I’m Back” from the Mathers LP1 / where I tried to say I take seven kids from Columbine / put ‘em all in a line, add an AK-47…” yeah, you see where he’s going. Apparently, since his popularity has waned, Em feels people won’t spend the same amount of time or effort to censor his controversies anymore.
Tons of other moments stick out, but I’ll pick and choose. There’s a supposed jab at those of us “…in a time warp from 2004…” who basically suggest Eminem doesn’t have it like he used to (aka “…you’re pointless as Rapunzel with f**king cornrows…”). Then there’s those who criticize his music even though he makes “…elevating music, you make elevator music.” He takes offense to the criticism that “…he’s too mainstream / well, that’s what they do when they get jealous, they confuse it / it’s not hip hop, it’s pop, cause I found a hella way to fuse it / with rock, shock rap with Doc…throw on “Lose Yourself” and make ‘em lose it…” He also basically throws double middle fingers up to his emulating copycats who aren’t near as good as him.
Also notable in the final verse of this tour de force is Eminem’s authenticity and autobiographical nature. He takes offense to the fact that he’s said to be associated with Satan, notably because of his poor references in his rhymes to women. “But if you take into consideration the bitter hatred I have / then you may be a little patient and more sympathetic to the situation / and understand the discrimination / but f**k it, life’s handing you lemons, make lemonade then / but if you can’t batter the women how the f**k am I supposed to make them a cake then…” Oh and the last line closes this track perfectly. “…Be a king? Think not – why be a king when you can be a God?” True, Em, true.
So, what are we, the ‘hip hop generation’ to make up about an MC who is now considered more ‘veteran’ than say the trendiest MC of the day? Personally, I believe that Eminem’s confident track is nothing short of genius and exactly what so many of today’s newest MC’s need to heed and use as fuel for their own creative fires. Kendrick did with “Control” and now Eminem has answers with “Rap God”. Rappers, step your lyrical game up. A hot beat and and a million f-bombs doesn’t solidify your spot along with hip-hop’s game changers.
Do I particularly care for or condone Eminem’s questionable care for women or homosexuals. No, definitely not. But lyrically and conceptually, and objectively speaking from my end, this track is magnificent. I mean c’mon people, aren’t you tired of every rapper talking about their ‘watch’, mollies, and going stupid? I am! The Marshall Mathers LP 2 seems like it is going to be FIRE.
Favorite Moment: Verse 3 Verdict: ✰✰✰✰✰
Eminem? “Rap God” (single) | Aftermath | U.S. Release Date: October 15, 2013
Photo Credits: Aftermath; WENN