“I am whatever you say I am”
Growing up, I loved listening to Eminem. Whenever I went to Coconuts (yeah, remember that store?) with my mom, I would always have to scratch off the parent warning label so she would buy the albums for me. Aside from his unbelievable talent, I have always loved Eminem’s songs because he’s so raw in his writing, shedding real light and honesty about his life and his feelings. Here are crucial life lessons to be learned from 15 Eminem tracks.
1. Never pass up an opportunity.
Eminem has some serious “pump up” songs, especially “Lose Yourself.” If you haven’t listened to this before a game or job interview, you’re either lying or you need to get it together. The song, clearly inspired by his own life, was one of the main tracks on the semi-biographical movie 8 Mile. Oh, also, watch the movie. It’s amazing.
2. Love hurts.
“Space Bound” combines Marshall’s famously-vengeful lyrics with how all of us have felt after a break up. Not known for his romanticism, Eminem’s song sings from the standpoint of the person that was betrayed and broken, but is now standing up for themselves. Breakups can sometimes feel like they will be impossible to recover from, but eventually you’ll hit the 3rd of the 7 Steps of Grief: anger.
3. It’s ok to admit that you have short-comings. Everyone does.
“Hailie’s Song,” or any song involving his daughter Hailie, is extremely personal. Those are the songs where Eminem really lets his guard down (probably having something to do with having a little girl.) If someone like Slim, who is so tough and badass, can have the bravery to release a song about how even he gets insecure, you can to. You’ll be surprised at how much the people around you want to help, they just don’t know you need the help yet.
4. Don’t ever let anyone deviate you from the goals that you’ve set for yourself.
It’s incredibly hard to go it alone, but if anyone can inspire you, it’s Eminem. As a skinny, white rapper that somehow broke into the music scene through hard work and unbelievable determination, he’s the best person to get advice from. He wasn’t supported for a long time, but he kept going. He’s “Not Afraid,” so you should try your damnedest not to be either.
5. People will never know how much they truly mean to you unless you tell them.
Eminem’s love songs are primarily for his daughter. Except for the ones, like “I Need a Doctor” by Dr. Dre. ft. Skylar Gray, which are about his love for, well, Dr. Dre. I always like listening to this one, because it has a great line of lyrics:
But I ain’t givin’ up faith and you ain’t givin’ up on me
Get up Dre I’m dyin’ I need you, come back for fuck’s sake
I wish I had the rap skills required to profess my love to my bestie that way.
6. You are beautiful. Period.
I always found it interesting that Eminem can go from singing songs full of rage and hate to songs about how important it is to be unique and stay true to yourself, like “Beautiful.” It’s another reason why I love his music; his honesty doesn’t only apply to his misgivings in his personal life, but also how his history inspired him and how it can inspire others. Even when you don’t feel beautiful, Eminem thinks you are. That’s pretty fucking cool.
7. It’s ok to admit your mistake. It takes a big person to apologize.
The one thing that I never thought would happen was Eminem apologizing to his mother. So many of his famous songs were written about his awful childhood and how much he resented Debbie Mathers. On the Marshall Mathers LP 2, he wrote “Headlights” ft. Nate Reuss of Fun. True to his willingness to be honest to his fans, on the track he reflected on his past and the choices he’s made:
But I’m sorry, Mama, for “Cleaning Out My Closet”, at the time I was angry
Rightfully maybe so, never meant that far to take it though,
’cause now I know it’s not your fault, and I’m not making jokes
That song I no longer play at shows and I cringe every time it’s on the radio
Of course no one knows what her reaction was, but I have to hope that a deep, public apology like that one had a positive impact on their relationship.
8. Don’t let anyone get to you that hasn’t walked a mile in your shoes.
Another incredible song from 8 Mile. Well, it’s more of a portion of a rap battle (<–watch this) that B-Rabbit threw down so hard that the other guy walked off the stage in shame. Given Eminem’s long, hard journey to the top, this song applies to him even more so than it applies to his character in the movie. Everyone just assumed that because he was some white guy, he simply couldn’t be a rapper, but, boy, were they wrong. At many points in my life, I have been judged unfairly and I know I have been guilty of judging others. We would all be better people if we took a page from B-Rabbit’s book.
9. Be careful with the choices you make, there are no do-overs in life.
Yes, “Love the Way You Lie” ft. Rihanna is about abusive relationships, but a lot of the lyrics can apply to other aspects of life. As true as this lyric is to a relationship, it’s equally true in all aspects of what people do. Make the best decisions you can, because, for the most part, you don’t get a time machine to go back and do things differently.
10. Sometimes a breakup is the best thing to ever happen to you.
Hindsight is 20/20. “No Love” ft. Lil Wayne teaches you just that. Once you’re out of a situation, you can see much more clearly what it was like and, if you believe in karma, that person will get what’s coming to them.
11. Fuel yourself with the flames of those who doubt you.
“Lighters” by Bad Meets Evil ft. Bruno Mars is one of those songs that is just super up-lifting. Combining Eminem’s intense lyrics about how peoples’ disapproval and disbelief just pushed him to work harder and Bruno Mars’ incredible vocals for the chorus combine to make a beautiful, yet intense, song. Haters? More like motivators.
12. The people you love won’t be in your life forever, but always cherish the memories.
“When I’m Gone” is one of my absolute favorite Eminem songs. Like many of his tracks, he sings about his love for his daughter. This song in particular gives you insight into Marshall’s crazy brain. He realizes that his career is a contradiction: he sings his love for his daughter, but he can’t spend time with her because he is writing songs about how much he loves her. It’s almost like reading his diary. More importantly, its chorus is a reminder to us all that those we love will eventually leave us and that instead of mourning their death, we should be celebrating their life.
13. Sometimes you feel like everyone is relying on you and you have no one that you can rely on.
“Like Toy Soldiers” is another one of my personal favorites. Again, Slim addresses real issues that he’s facing and explains the drama that’s engulfing his life. It’s better than reading a celebrity trash magazine because it’s crazy, but actually true. This song seems like an apology to me, which almost makes it more heartbreaking. The person at the top of the ladder is responsible for everyone below him, so he can’t screw up or rely on anyone for the things that are bothering him. Everyone has had that overwhelming feeling of having no one to turn to. It’s not pleasant.
14. Sometimes, you just have to break down and be honest. Even if it’s hard.
Aptly titled “Guts Over Fear” ft. Sia, I get really write a description better than the name of the song, so I’ll just leave it at that.
15. Be unique. Be you.
Eminem’s first huge hit, “The Real Slim Shady,” off his 3rd studio album is easily the song he’s most famous for. I love the juxtaposition of him with all of the other “Slim Shadys.” Even amongst hundreds of other people that “might walk and talk like [him], they just might be the next best thing, but not quite [him].” Be yourself, or you’ll just be someone else’s second best.