How Anger Motivates Eminem to Write | Becoming the Rap God

In a recent interview Eminem said,

There is something inside me that is a little more happy when I’m angry. As bad as it feels to be there, there’s also a rush about it that I like because it inspires me to say something back.

I think this speaks to so many of us in the Digital Age.

We love reading about stuff that makes us angry because we enjoy the sweet taste of self-righteous indignation.

Our anger makes us feel like we can break through walls and “walk on water.”

I walk on water
But I ain’t no Jesus
I walk on water
But only when it freezes.
Walk on Water

Marshall Mathers had plenty of reasons to grow up angry.

His father abandoned him.

I was a baby, maybe I was just a couple of months
My faggot father must have had his panties up in a bunch
’Cause he split, I wonder if he even kissed me goodbye
No, I don’t, on second thought, I just fuckin’ wished he would die.
Cleanin’ Out My Closet

His mother neglected him.

But put yourself in my position, just try to envision
Witnessin’ your mama poppin’ prescription pills in the kitchen
Bitchin’ that someone’s always goin’ through her purse and shit’s missin’
Goin’ through public housing systems, victim of Münchausen’s Syndrome
My whole life I was made to believe I was sick when I wasn’t
’Til I grew up, now I blew up, it makes you sick to your stomach, doesn’t it?
Cleanin’ Out My Closet

Then when he became successful he had more reasons to stay angry.

His marriage ended in divorce.

His traveling kept him from his daughter.

And that’s when daddy went to California with his CD and met Dr. Dre
And flew you and momma out to see me
But daddy had to work, you and momma had to leave me
Then you started seeing daddy on the T.V. and momma didn’t like it
And you and Laney were to young to understand it
Papa was a rollin’ stone, momma developed a habit
And it all happened too fast for either one of us to grab it
I’m just sorry you were there and had to witness it first hand
Cause all I ever wanted to do was just make you proud
Now I’m sitting in this empty house, just reminiscing
Lookin’ at your baby pictures, it just trips me out.

But the truth is no matter how good or bad we have it we can all come up with reasons to be angry.

Anger is a choice.

Eminem could have chosen to be more zen-like, but that wouldn’t be em-like.

He could have paid for the best therapists, gone on silent meditation retreats, focused on gratitude (as Tony Robbins says, “You can’t be grateful and angry at the same time”), but for Eminem it was his anger that made him the real Slim Shady…

Screaming I don’t give a fuck with his windows down and system up
So will the real Shady, please stand up
And put one of those fingers on each hand up
And to be proud to be outta your mind and outta control
And one more time, loud as you can, how does it go?

I’m Slim Shady, yes I’m the real Shady
All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating
So won’t the real Slim Shady, please stand up,
Please stand up,
Please stand up
The Real Slim Shady

So we have a choice with our anger, we can…

  • erase it (the zen approach) or

  • embrace it (the Eminem approach).

In my opinion most people would probably be better off pursuing the zen approach since there’s a danger in flying too close to the sun because if we lose control we can end up destroying our careers, relationships, and lives…

Baby please come back
It wasn’t you
Baby it was me
Maybe our relationship
Isn’t as crazy as it seems
Maybe that’s what happens
When a tornado meets a volcano
All I know is
I love you too much
To walk away now
Come inside
Pick up your bags off the sidewalk
Don’t you hear sincerity
In my voice when I talk
Told you this is my fault
Look me in the eyeball
Next time I’m pissed
I’ll aim my fist
At the dry wall
Next time
There will be no next time
I apologize
Even though I know it’s lies
Love the Way You Lie

Eminem could have easily ended up dead or stuck in a dead-end job, but instead of letting his anger get the best of him he let it become the best of him.

He took that fire inside of himself and redirected it toward a more productive end by channeling his anger toward a craft.

When his mom wasn’t home, he would blast the stereo and write and write and write…

So instead of ending up in jail due to a fight, he wrote about it…

I’ve got to formulate a plot fore I end up in jail or shot
Success is my only motherfuckin’ option, failures not
Mom, I love you, but this trail has got to go
I cannot grow old in Salem’s lot
So here I go is my shot.
Feet fail me not ’cause maybe the only opportunity that I got

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime you better
Lose Yourself

Instead of driving off a bridge in a fit of rage, he wrote about it…

If you relax a little, I’m glad I inspire you, but Stan
Why are you so mad? Try to understand, that I do want you as a fan
I just don’t want you to do some crazy shit
I seen this one shit on the news a couple weeks ago that made me sick
Some dude was drunk and drove his car over a bridge
And had his girlfriend in the trunk, and she was pregnant with his kid
And in the car they found a tape, but they didn’t say who it was to
Come to think about, his name was, it was you

Instead of going to a therapist, he rapped about it on a stage.

He’s his fans’ Anger Translator.

He says things in such a way that many of us wish we could articulate, but that we can’t either because we aren’t as smooth with our words or because society, work, parents expect us to hide our true feelings behind a forced smile.

Since Eminem is motivated by a desire to give us what we want,

“I’m always stuck in that, “What the f*ck do people want?” Eminem

He’ll likely continue to be a voice for the guy who grimaces back at his jerk boss or for the girl who feels misunderstood by her busy parents.

His anger will continue to be fanned by his fans and directed by his ambition because after all, it’s by embracing his rage that Eminem became the Rap God.

Cause I’m just a man, but as long as I got a mic I’m godlike
So me and you are not alike
Bitch, I wrote “Stan”