Eminem is not the subtlest rapper around. Between songs about killing his wife, songs about disposing his wife’s body with his daughter, or charming paeans to celebrity asses, it’s typically pretty easy to figure out what’s going on in in his music. But just in case anyone’s been having difficulty wrapping their mind around some of Eminem’s words, relax, because Marshall Mathers is here to help. Following the lead of figures like Pulitzer prize winning novelist Michael Chabon, mega-producer Rick Rubin, and indie rockers Grizzy Bear, Eminem has posted over 40 annotations to a collection of his and other rappers songs on the lyrics-parsing website Genius.
Some of the notes are interesting, like his thoughts about the modern rap game as annotated on a posthumous Tupac and Biggie freestyle. “I believe that anybody who competitively raps—like Drake and Kendrick and Jay Z—raps to be the best rapper. People diss each other, but it’s more in the vein of ’How can I kill you with record sales? Or with a flow? How can I be better than you at making records, at punch lines, metaphors, wordplay, syllables?’” Adding, “When you have two rappers like Biggie and Tupac getting into it, you get the hip-hop community torn. No one wants to see something real happen. If for a second you entertain the idea of that being entertaining, if something ever happened out of that? No. That’s not healthy.”
Other notations are more personally revealing like tendency to tear himself down before building himself up on “Rap God”–“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.” And some of the notes reveal ideas that seem plainly obvious in retrospect like why he slipped in 8 Mile co-star Mekhi Phifer’s name on “Lose Yourself”–“I had started with this syllable scheme—‘somebody’s paying the pied piper’ and “Mekhi Phifer” ended up fitting.”
All of the Eminem’s notations are available on Genius.