It requires some serious suspension of disbelief to buy that Eminem is an underdog at this point, considering that his last album is both quadruple platinum and the winner of the Best Rap Album Grammy. But saying, “Everybody hates me” and, more specifically, “Guess who’s back?” has served his career well so far, and the narrative continues on the just-released, kinda awful Beyoncé-enhanced single “Walk On Water.” The world agrees that Beyoncé is a magical angel, with equal parts badassery and pure talent, but even she can’t save this one.
Produced by Rick Rubin—as presumably the upcoming Eminem full-length, Revival, was—“Walk On Water” is built largely on a maudlin piano line and Beyoncé’s vocal hook, which features lyrics so patently goofy that you’re going to think they’re made up: “I walk on water / But I ain’t no Jesus / I walk on water / But only when it freezes.”
But Eminem is not Jesus, you see: He doubts his own ability just like anyone else. “If you bitches are tryin’ to strip me of my confidence, mission accomplished,” he snarls at some imaginary bitches who perhaps looked at him askance at the supermarket, or criticized a particularly perilous rhyme scheme on the internet. He further goes on to list all of the artists that he is not, including Prince—ignoring the fact that, like Eminem, Prince released plenty of garbage right alongside the good stuff. He further claims that he’s “gettin’ clowned and frowned on” and that “the world no longer cares or gives a fuck about [his] rhymes.”
As ever, though, once Eminem has built himself an imaginary enemy—lower record sales? people who don’t like his hair?—he fights back, letting us know that he will decide when his career is over, not you, invisible beast who stops careers. There is also the sound of what I think is supposed to be ice cracking under Em’s feet, because of that chorus about walking on ice, because he is not Jesus.
And then, just when you think Eminem has gotten humble, he flips the script. He is the best after all, according to him! Bitch, he wrote “Stan!” (He also wrote “Walk On Water,” so… call it even?)