by Jacob Rogers
Marshall Mathers, better known by his stage name Eminem, dropped a new single on Friday, Nov. 11, entitled “Walk on Water,” featuring Beyoncé. In this new song, Mathers seems to still be struggling with the fact that he’s a human being and that being human comes with its share of unhappiness.
“Walk on Water” begins with Beyoncé singing the chorus over a mellow piano beat: “I walk on water/But I ain’t no Jesus/I walk on water/But only when it freezes.” This chorus signifies that Mathers has come to terms that he is not god-like and has his limits and doubts.
On his last solo album The Marshall Mathers LP 2, which released in 2014, Mathers has a track called “Rap God.” In the hook of this song, Mathers says:
“I’m beginning to feel like a rap god, rap god/All my people from the front to the back nod, back nod/Now, who thinks their arms are long enough to slap box, slap box?/ They said I rap like a robot, so call me rap-bot.”
In this hook, Mathers reflects on how he’s beginning to feel like a “rap god” within the industry, someone that newer artists look up to. He then goes on to say: “Now who thinks their arms are long enough to slap box?” This line goes back to a phrase coined by author James Weldon Johnson: “Your arm’s too short to box with God.” Eminem puts his own twist on this phrase in “Rap God,” basically responding with, “I’m a god and no one can compete with the standard I’ve set.”
Although Mathers sings about how he has long enough arms to box with God in “Rap God,” he contradicts this in the first verse of “Walk on Water.”
Mathers sings, “My arms, I stretch, but I can’t reach.” Here he is reflecting that he isn’t a god, but realizes he is human like everyone else.
Later on in the first verse, Mathers says: “Knowin’ that no matter what bars I come with/You’re gonna harp, gripe, and that’s a hard Vicodin to swallow.”
Here, Eminem knows that no matter what type of music he releases, he’s going to get negative reviews one way or another: “That’s a hard Vicodin to swallow,” which reflects on his past addiction issues with Vicodin, an opioid pain medication with a high risk for addiction and dependence. With this line, Eminem is saying that bad reviews to his music helped cause his addiction because he’d take the pill in order to cope with the negative reviews.
In the second verse of the song, Eminem starts: “It’s the curse of the standard that the first of the Mathers discs set” meaning that The Marshall Mathers LP was such an iconic album that it set a high standard for his future records.
Later in the verse, Mathers continues to reflect on how he’s constantly searching for something new to sing about in his songs, and how he tears apart his own records after they’re released, when he says:
“Always in search of the verse that I haven’t spit yet…The rhyme has to be perfect, the delivery flawless/And it always feels like I’m hittin’ the mark ‘til I go sit in the car, listen and pick it apart like, ‘This sh*t is garbage!”
He then addresses that he isn’t a god in the end of the verse saying “I’m not God-sent, Nas, Rakim, Pac [2Pac], B.i.G. [Notorious B.I.G], James Todd Smith [LL Cool J} and I’m not Prince so…” Mathers believes that these are the artists that young musicians and rappers need to look up to—not him.
In the third and final verse, Eminem ruminates on how he is lucky that he is living the life that he is today. He says:
“But the only one who’s looking down on me that matters now’s DeShaun/Am I lucky to be around this long? Begs the question thought especially after the methadone/As yesterday fades and the Dresden home is burnt to the ground, and all that’s left of my house is the lawn.”
These few lines bring everything full circle for Eminem. He contemplates about his best friend, DeShaun Dupree Holton also known as Proof, who is looking down on him from heaven after being murdered in 2006. Mathers shows that he is thankful to still be walking the earth after nearly dying of a drug overdose in the early 2000s.
Finally, he also shows thanks to be living a healthier life. Instead of living a dangerous life on the streets of Detroit and fighting drug addiction, Eminem is 45 years old, healthy and a worldwide icon.
I believe this song gives listeners an insight into Eminem’s mind and his struggles. I would strongly suggest giving this song a listen and continue to look out for more releases from Eminem. “Walk on Water” is available on iTunes, Spotify and YouTube.