Music has been an integral part of human history and can be traced along the origins of man himself. Not only has music been a part of our culture, our lives, but it also impacts us deeply on a very emotional level. Studies have found that listening to music can not only induce moods but a change in the type of beat, rhythm, and lyrics can also cause a transition in the mood. A study published on the Journal of Consumer Research claims that people tend to hear deep, sad music when they experience something similar. The study suggested that music provides a substitute for grief. Similarly, happy and joyous music can shift the mood around as well. Strong and fast beats can pump up a person and motivate him/her and induce a feeling of competition (which in their musical fantasy leads to success) in their thoughts.
Artists like Linkin Park, Imagine Dragons, Shankar Mahadevan, Sukhwinder Singh with electrifying songs like ‘Numb’, ‘Radioactive’, and ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, & ‘Kar Har Maidaan Fateh’ respectively are quite often heard to induce a feeling of success and to pursue the same. Amidst these artists lies a rapper, going by the name of Marshall Mathers a.k.a. Eminem, undoubtedly one of the greatest rappers the world has ever seen. Coming from the hoods of Michigan, Detroit, Eminem came out to be rather tough as compared to the sweet, innocent, submissive child he was in his childhood.
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Often known for hurling disses at his rivals and being quite good at them, Eminem has taken a jab at the careers of famous rappers like Ja Rule, Benzino, Machine Gun Kelly, and destroyed them all. He is one person who refuses to back down. A hardworking and devoted rapper, Eminem loves his daughter Hailie and often is seen citing her on his songs. Due to his emotional quotient being so high, teenagers especially, and fans belonging to other age groups listen and relate to his songs. Eminem has received notable awards and nominations due to his work. In 2002, he won the Academy Award for the Best Original Song for ‘Lose Yourself’ (mentioned below) , not only marking a big award in his list of awards, but also being the first rapper to do so. He has been a stunning 15-time Grammy Awards winner and has also received the Global Icon Award at MTV Europe Music Awards.
What makes his music so special ? Let’s find out.
1. Not Afraid
A song from his 7th studio album, and probably the most famous and heavily applauded one, ‘Recovery’, the song is about Eminem facing what’s coming to him and not being afraid about it. Recovery as an album marks Eminem’s rise from the bottom again, as he dealt with and successfully overcame his drug addiction and conquered another bad phase of his life wherein he was heavily criticised for promoting drugs, objectifying women, using abusive language and being homophobic. Eminem, through Not Afraid delivers to the audience that he’s grateful to them for making him realise that he was on the wrong path. The lines ‘And I just can’t keep living this way; so starting today; I’m breaking out of this cage’ signify that he was tired of the lifestyle he was pursuing and that he was trapped in a cage from which he wanted to break out, and he did.
Like many of his songs, he also mentions Hailie on this song, but refers to her as ‘my daughter’ and claims that he will raise his legacy just like he raised his daughter, without letting a ‘single shingle’ on it.
The video is also symbolic of his rise, and fall, and consequential rise as an artist as in the video he’s seen on the top of a building, then experiencing a fall from a height, and then flying back up again to get on the top of the building.
The lyrics of the song are strong and the beat is good. Eminem mentions that he’ll make sure to take every person along with him who feels confused, demotivated, and also believes that he/she is trapped by the circumstances of his/her life.
Eminem won the MTV Video Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards Japan, Grammy Awards, Billboard Music Awards and Detroit Music Awards for the song.
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2. Lose Yourself
Some call it Eminem’s best song ever. Other’s call it one of Eminem’s best. Whatever the case may be, Lose Yourself is indeed one of the finest songs that the 15-time Grammy Winning artist has recorded. From the motion picture ‘8-Mile’ which is an autobiography of Eminem to a great extent, Lose Yourself has an aggressive, yet positive ring to it, which motivates the listener to pursue with as much hard-work and dedication as can be, whatever the listener is pursuing. And the aim of the pursuit is what Eminem asks the listener to lose himself to. The song starts with a nervous Eminem, as described in the lyrics, with vomit on his sweater and no lyrics in his mind, and then takes an eventual turn to his newly induced thought that he cannot back down. The song is guaranteed to motivate the listener and induce an adrenaline rush in him/her.
The song won Eminem the Academy Award for the Best Original Song, the Grammy Award for the Best Rap Song, and the Best Rap Solo Performance of 2004. The video on YouTube has crossed 600 million views. Depicting a struggle that Eminem had to endure in real life, Lose Yourself is one of the best songs by Eminem indeed.
3. The Monster
From the 2013 Album, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2’ the song ‘The Monster’ features Rihanna and Eminem as Eminem thinks about all the fame and the negative publicity he got because of his alter ego ‘Slim Shady’. It is theorised that the name of the song is derived from the personality of Slim Shady himself, because of his verbally aggressive and abusive content. Slim Shady as an alter ego is a lyrical genius, however, is quite aggressive. People like Eminem’s Shady version because of the hilarious insults that Eminem passes while in that form. The Monster marks an end to the Shadymania as in the video, Eminem walks off as Shady (portrayed by Eminem only) is locked up in a cell and about to be transferred somewhere. This video shows an official separation of Eminem from Shady. The video also features Eminem’s other videos as compiled clippings for the songs which Eminem performed as Slim Shady, such as ‘My Name is’ , ‘The Way I Am’ , ‘Mockingbird’ , and the 2001 performance of ‘Stan’ by Eminem along with Joh Elton.
The lyrics of the song are quite emotional but combined with a deep thumping beat they are sure to introduce an energy in the listeners. Eminem in the song states that he’s friends with the ‘Monster’ and that he’ll continue to motivate children and other teenagers who rely on his songs for emotional balance.
4. Guts Over Fear
The serene voice of Sia combined with the powerful lyrical ballads of Eminem are the best gift an Eminem/Sia fan can get. The song generally talks about having the courage to overcome fear and Eminem in his verses throws around difficult instances from his life such as the negative attention he was getting in the news, growing up with one parent who too was a drug addict, yet thanking that parent for giving him the strength to cause shadymania and achieve all the success in life that Eminem has, and apologising for dissing that very parent on various songs for a troubled childhood. The beautiful voice of Sia covers the chorus which states that Eminem as a child was afraid to make any sounds, and believed that he would never find a way out. Eminem in the song claims that given the opportunity, he would rather make Not Afraid 2 than another stupid ‘We Made You’ ( a song of Eminem (Shady) which was highly controversial).
The song ends with Eminem passing the legacy that he’ll leave behind to the audience, as he says that the legend of the angry blonde will live on through his listeners when he’s gone.
The song is from the album Shady XV.
Another of Eminem’s song from the Marshal Mathers LP 2 is Survival, which is also a feature track for the video game Call of Duty : Ghosts. Eminem and Call of Duty go way back, with his songs such as Till I Collapse and Won’t Back Down being featured in the previous instalments of the video game. The video of the song features mainly scenes from the video game with occasional Eminem features visiting his hood in Detroit. The song is the most aggressive of all in this list, yet surprisingly does not induce anger but rather motivation in the listener. It goes with lyrics “This is the survival of the fittest; This is do or die” in the chorus, sung by Liz Rodriguez. As Eminem takes the song forth, it only gets verbally electrifying and is sure to leave the listeners in a state of daze and awe.
Other notable mentions for this article include – Cinderella Man, Venom ( from the album Kamikaze), Fall (from the album Kamikaze) and Till I Collapse.