The Eminem Guide to Becoming a Writing and Marketing Machine

The Eminem Guide to Becoming a Writing and Marketing Machine

Reader Comments (244)

  1. Hey Sean,

    Tell your unique story to an extreme and you can become truly unique and irresistible.

    Eminem wasn’t just a technically skilled rapper – Jay-Z was also ruling the charts.

    Eminem wasn’t just an amazing and inventive rapper who was also white – Beastie Boys have been doing it for over 10 years before the SS LP.

    Eminem wasn’t just controversial and headline-grabbing – Snoop Dogg and other gangsta rappers were raising eyebrows as well.

    No, Eminem was all those plus his STORY.

    He didn’t simply mention where he was from – he vividly told how and where he was raised, all his troubles, and where he was coming from. He was ferociously honest and genuinely angry, which drove the story even harder into the listeners.

    Eminem told his story to an extreme. He didn’t leave out any details. And this not only made him remarkable (so few artists are this brutally open), but people who might’ve shared similar experiences instantly connected with him.

    By telling your story to an extreme, you guarantee your remarkableness. After all, no one else has the EXACT same life story as you.

    Nice article on extracting some useful writing and marketing lessons from the man,

    • Eminem is the man, not only is he an unbelievable artist throughout the past decade but he has been an artist that has touched many different emotions of his life. anyone that can make it in the music industry for a decade should never be talked down upon. having said all that he is an insane business man always finding a way to up his profits. The man is simply a marketing genius. We all have our flaws in life it’s unfortunate that his get thrown out to the public. It’s easy talk to bad about someone when you know so much about them but put yourself in his shoes and think about if all your flaws went public.

  2. Your wife sounds like a genius and I think we could all learn from the beginning of this awesome, “out-of-the-box” article, that no judgments can be made until some effort is made to understand the object in question.

    Eminem has truly been such a back and forth icon in my mind but I think you hit the nail on the head in praising him for what he is good at and giving caveat to those subjects in which he creates controversy.

    Such a great way to look at a totally different field and make it relevant. Awesome work!

  3. Love’m or hate’m, Eminem is truly an artist.

    I’d like to add one more to the list: make fun of everyone you dislike. I haven’t done it but that’s part of his shtick — and it works! I guess that can be lumped into the ‘be extreme’ part.

    Hmmm… that gives a few ideas though. Now I have to decide who’s the lucky SOB I’m going to rip into in my first slam post.

  4. Good point, Oleg, the story (and telling it in a compelling way) is the “secret sauce.” Which is very, very applicable to almost any communication.

  5. Seeing Eminem dissected and used as a guide for the rest of us- never imagined I’d see that here. This alone has solidified you in my email subscription list 😀 Though I’m a skinny ginger kid from a very different background, as a wee lad I enjoyed his music somewhat. It wasn’t til later though, especially college, that I caught myself listening to his lyrics over and over, sharing similar types of pain, remorse, love, regret, you name it.

  6. @Gabe, indeed, mockery can be a very powerful weapon to weaken your enemies. Or at least your critics. 🙂

  7. I strongly recommend the movie “Eight Mile High”. I went in sulking and was caught by the story, his acting, the production and the slam scenes. The music still irritates me, but respect where it is due.

  8. I always remember the interview of him talking about how he would just go through the dictionary and find words that rhyme together. He did mention that he would actually learn what each word meant so oh it makes sense when he was using the words in his wrapping. Just knowing more words and the meaning of them can make you a better writer. Eminem is definitely a genius and this article shows that there is a lot you can learn from this man.

  9. I’m suddenly seeing Eminem in a whole new light. This post likely won’t turn me into a fan (it’s not really my genre of music), but it’s a good reminder to switch on the critical thinking when mainstream opinion is swimming in one direction.

    You gave me lots to think about today, thanks, Sean.

  10. Back in the days when I used to teach, I would see kids like that get discounted or ignored all the time. They didn’t fit the mold and consequently where quickly shuffled to the edges.

    As you pointed out Sean, everyone has a significant story to tell if we are willing to really listen. Kind of goes back to something Chris Brogan talks about.

    I wonder what would happen if we spent more time listening. It might just allow us to improve our own storytelling as well.

  11. Oleg: Couldn’t agree more! I think one of the things that made Marshall’s story so effective wasn’t just that it was personal or vivid, but that he was also so brutally honest. He’s never had any bones about pointing fingers, but one of his biggest targets has also been himself. By exposing himself in the way that he does, it allows all his other arguments to rise to the surface, bold and believable.

    Spenser: I’ll tell her you said that and gladly take the kiss she’ll give me. : > )

    Yeah, it’s hard with Em. I saw such amazing momentum from the guy and felt so completely let down as a fan of his intelligence that he’s done so little with it since hitting the top. Even now there are songs that I just shake me head and wonder what in the world he’s thinking. I still have hope that the guy will grow up and hit his full potential one day. It’s okay to use your past to push you, not so much if you wallow in it. Thanks for the compliment, Spenser.

    Gabe: That’s true, but he doesn’t just make fun of people, he somehow manages to eviscerate them in a single sentence; taking their worst flaw or insecurity and putting it in front page bold type. An extreme skill well employed. I look forward to your slam post! : > )

    Jon: That is one of his many remarkable qualities, that he can make us feel the most human emotions as though we’re living right under his skin. That’s the work of an artist for sure.

    Sonia: It’s especially true if you use mockery as a mirror – to show that you are the opposite of what they are, not by crowing about yourself, but by pointing out your enemy’s (or critic’s) flaws.

    Claus: Thanks, Claus. Yeah, artists are some of our finest teachers so long as we’re willing to pay attention to what they’re teaching.

    Anna: That’s one of the things that sets him apart – the willingness to do what others won’t; to work harder, try harder and push his skills further than most anyone else. It’s hard to imagine 50 Cent going through the dictionary looking for words to rhyme with “money” or “.45.” Marshall wasn’t just working on sharpening his rhymes, he was sharpening his overall intelligence as well.

    Michael: I’ve never heard of 8 Mile High, but will add it to my queue tonight. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Stacey: My absolute pleasure, Stacey. If you’d like a list of tracks with the most compelling content, I’m happy to oblige. : > )

    Dean: Wonderfully said, Dean. And I couldn’t agree more. One of the reasons my wife urged me to listen to Eminem was precisely because of her twenty years as a teacher. She’s taught that kid before, many times and in many versions.

    Suzie: Awesome question, Suzie. I’ll have to come back later to answer it as I would like to give it some thought. Are you more curious about lyrical content, rhyme scheme or just overall delivery?

  12. Eminem is Eminem because he put himself out there. No matter what you do keep trying with all your heart. Forget the people who criticize you to keep you down. Listen to your small still voice and those who provide the best advice. Keep on going every day and an opportunity will avail itself.

    You provide great marketing/writing tips with unless applied with the proper mindset they’ll be useless.

  13. I respect his uncompromising attitude. He’s a polarising personality and even though there’s a whole range of emotions and complicated themes in his music, he knows what he wants to produce and he does it.

    He makes music his music because he believes in it and has an unflinching passion for it. Couple that with a lot of persistence and hard work and you’re faced with a formidable force!

  14. Sean,

    I usually don’t listen to the Em, and when his picture came up on my email I thought you were promoting his latest material. I was about to skip your message but curiosity got a hold of me. Thank you, in general, for this and all your articles, and a big thank you for the one specific phrase that got me into writing this post, and hopefully many more: ENDLESS PRACTICE! You made my day!

    Best regards and cheers!


  15. Ya, I don’t get into that particular type of music but he is one of the exceptions to the rule. You pretty well covered why, and I think a lot of people can learn from him. He’s a damn good artist.

    There is also another group from France that I learned from called Die Form. Granted the content of their songs are questionable, but it was all created by one guy. He wrote the music, made it, even produced it for awhile.

    Even though they are still “underground” (at least here in the states that I know of) they have a very loyal following. And he’s been doing this since the mid 80’s.

    I just think anyone that has the stamina and desire to push themselves that long and hard to succeed is an inspiration. Even if what they create is questionable at times.

  16. Sean,

    I never thought I’d see an Eminem article that could be interwoven into copywriting and marketing, but here we are. I too have had my ups and downs with my opinions of Mr. Mathers, but I agree that he is a one of a kind and his dedication to his craft is something that we can all learn from.

    I know that what you put into something is normally equal to what you get out of it, so if we all just keep pushing to be the best at our little slice of the world, one word at a time, then we can only go up from here. May the little Eminem in all of us show through.

  17. In my whole life I never ever thought I’d find a Eminem article here. Watching my two worlds collide like this is a bit shocking.

    I can honestly say I’ve never looked at him quite the way you’ve presented here. Interesting.

  18. Eminem challenges people NOT to withhold judgement about him.

    If you don’t truly know your enemy, your enemy will make you look foolish when you confront him—this is all part of his psychological/marketing method I believe.

  19. I have always thought that Eminem’s writing was absolutely brilliant– glad to know someone else does too. Thanks for writing about it in this forum, where I bet not many people have listened to his music.

  20. Love that you referenced a lyric from “Still Don’t Give a F***.” 😉 You’re such a raging nerd and I love it.

    Great article – never would have seen it coming but I learned a lot.

  21. I think what people often miss with Slim’s work is that he knows. He knows his life. He knows what that life is about. He knows our lives. He knows what we are about. With levels revealed breaking down through the bull he exposes truth in all of us. It’s not just profanity and hate-mongering. In fact, I’d say it’s usually the opposite, if you really listen. If you really listen.


  22. Like 79,000 other readers, I get Copyblogger posts everyday. This was the first time I felt compelled to comment. Brilliant post. Your ability to compare your advice about blogging to Eminem hit home more than ever with this post. While reading it I really felt it was written for me. I know, sounds kooky, but I’m really not. We all have those moments every so often; I think it’s important to recognize them.

    After finishing the post I felt sure I was on the right path. Thank you for that. My only questions remain in how much my story can help or hurt my purpose in blogging, and the type of readers I have. It is not always easy to figure out the best way to weave your history into your live, present, daily updates. But I feel that without it, there is an enormous part of you that doesn’t ever exist on screen. And should.

    Thank goodness for Eminem. I couldn’t run without him. Nothing gets me going like “Lose Yourself.”

  23. @Sean, like some of the folks here, it really never occurred to me to take a second look at Eminem. So thanks. 🙂

  24. hope eminem will read copyblogger and actually comment, haha you got to love eminem, yes put aside his rage etc.. but love him because he being different.. look at rap market.. most of rapper rap about how good he is, how rich he is, how girl love him and bla bla.. but eminem come out and say how suck his life is.. it totally different than other that what make he great..

    so blogger need to do same thing.. don’t write what people most write but write something different so you can be slim shady of blogger.. 🙂

  25. Hello Sean, I started not to read your posting about the person covered here. Basically, I skimmed through portions of it because I didn’t want to read it at all. But I ran across one of your statements which I am going to paste below for your reader and you to use for a comparison:

    “Though I’ve always been drawn to great lyricists and songwriters, I’d never heard anyone able to effectively indulge satire, rage, sorrow, shame, guilt, regret, power, passion, loneliness, bravado, stupidity, genius, leadership, idiocy, misogyny, sympathy and, believe it or not, tender compassion.”

    The writings I am recommending are not from a lyricist or a songwriter instead they are from a simple man writing letters to his friends while he is in prison. He writes more on the positive areas mentioned in your statement I pasted above.

    This writer effectively writes about leadership, power, passion, and yes, tender compassion. This writer, also, writes of the guilt, sorrow, and shame our walks bring us while etching out our own paths in life. This writer gives us the full insight of how our paths can be walked in the light and as the light of the world, because of 1 man.

    Some of his letters are called books and have been published world wide. They have been read, discussed and dissected by millions of people. Scholars, teachers, professors, dictators, emperors, kings, politicians, laymen, and all walks of life.

    Come to think of it, the writer of these letters has stood in front of scholars, teachers, professors, dictators, emperors, kings, politicians, laymen and all walks of life to witness and testify of this 1 man.

    I, personally, believe 1 of the best of his letters to read first is called “Ephesians”. Once you start reading the letter, just like a great novel, don’t stop reading it until you have finished it.

    Once you have finished “Ephesians”, the next awesome, awesome letter of this person to read is called, “Romans”. Most people refer to this letter as his “Book of Love”.

    The 2 mentioned above are just a couple of his wonderful letters. A few other copies of his letters are called Colossians, Philippians, and Galatians. You will really enjoy reading those, too.

    As I was writing this reply, I noticed one of the areas missed in the quote above is the word “faith” In our business of internet marketing, affiliate marketing, and/or niche marketing, if we do not have “faith” in ourselves and goals we have set to accomplish, we will fail.

    This writer of these marvelous letters wrote another fantastic letter to a group of people talking to them about the word “faith”. He gives them example after example of people who learned to have “faith” and the successful results of the “faith”. After he gives the examples of these very successful people in their walks through life, he lets everyone else in on the formula of how to be successful. Sounds a lot like the squeeze page of a internet marketing page, doesn’t it? Trust me, it isn’t!

    Let me mention something about the successful people in the examples the writer discusses. They started out just like all of us, people with nothing but a dream, a goal, one that could and can be accomplished. Their dreams contained a vital ingredient, “faith”

    This letter of “faith”, by this wonderful man is called Hebrews. Check it out! You may never be the same. You may never look at your dream the same as you had in the past. You many never set your goals the same way you had up to the point of finishing reading this letter.

    As a veteran of internet marketing, affiliate marketing, and or niche marketing, my recommending the reading of this man’s letters will change your outlook on your business and the way you conduct your business as it becomes successful.

    Brian Clark(Copyblogger), thank you for allowing this reply to be posted.

    Danny Ethridge
    Internet Marketing Toolman

  26. I gotta think Eminem would approve of this post:

    “I am whatever you say I am.
    If I wasn’t, then would would I say I am?”

    His gifts are language and marketing, perfect for rap (and social media).

  27. Ryan: Not only did he not allow critics to keep him down, he also used their criticism as fuel to launch him further than he probably would’ve been able to manage on his own. That’s genius marketing in motion.

    Amy: No doubt. Whenever I think I’ve had a difficult year, I need only listen to one of his cuts and I realize how insulated I really am.

    Rafa: My absolute pleasure, Rafa. I’m glad you didn’t skip over it. Endless practice is the duty of the winner, and a mantra Copbylogger rightly preaches.

    Chris: Absolutely. At the very least, it’s worth looking at with open eyes to see if there is some amount of value we can extract. In Em’s case, I’ve learned a lot.

    Joanna: My pleasure, Joanna. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Joshua: I really like that, Joshua – “being the best at our own little slice of the world.” Well said. One word, one post, one day at a time indeed.

    Melissa: I’m glad I could rattle your world. : ) So, what was your previous impression of Mr. Mathers?

    Shane: I agree. Marshall is confrontational with his critics and feeds of their judgement. It is one of the things which makes him a brilliant marketer, and yes, he always knows his enemies well.

    Lucy: My pleasure. Thanks to Copyblogger for running it.

    Chloe: I’m a raging word nerd indeed, though the three songs quoted here are “Lose Yourself,” “Renegade,” and “Who Knew?” “Still Don’t Give a #*$@ has plenty of quotable lines though. : )

    Daniel: There might be even more profanity than most people imagine, but there is far, far less hate mongering. If you really listen you will hear songs that can bring you to tears. It’s hard to quote Em out of context because his songs really are stories which build to crescendo, but the end of this song where he talks about putting fans before family gets me every time:

    The sky darkens, my life flashes, the plane that I was supposed to be on crashes and burns to ashes

    That’s when I wake up, alarm clock’s ringin’, there’s birds singin’ It’s Spring and Hailie’s outside swinging,

    I walk right up to Kim and kiss her. Tell her I miss her, Hailie just smiles and winks at her little sister…

    Sarah: That makes me smile wide Sarah. I’m glad the post touched you in a personal way. Thank you for losing yourself in my moment. : )

    Sonia: My pleasure, but we both need to thank Cindy! If it hadn’t been for her it’s possible my world view would still be a bit too narrow. : )

    Izzat: That would pretty much make my week if Marshall made it around to comment, though I read somewhere that he doesn’t read blogs.

    Danny: Thank you for drawing a parallel, unique to the discussion. I read through your comment about the person you were covering without skimming and think I understand where you were going. Since I’m not entirely sure, I’ll agree that, yes, faith was missing from the list above. Here is a quote that illustrates the theme of faith nicely.

    “I’m walkin these train tracks, tryin to regain back
    the spirit I had ‘fore I go back to the same crap
    To the same plant, and the same pants
    Tryin to chase rap, gotta move ASAP
    And get a new plan, momma’s got a new man
    Poor little baby sister, she don’t understand
    Sits in front of the TV, buries her nose in the pad
    And just colors until the crayon gets dull in her hand
    While she colors her big brother and mother and dad
    Ain’t no tellin what really goes on in her little head
    Wish I could be the daddy that neither one of us had
    But I keep runnin from somethin I never wanted so bad!
    Sometimes I get upset, cause I ain’t blew up yet
    It’s like I grew up, but I ain’t grow me two nuts yet
    Don’t gotta rep my step, don’t got enough pep
    The pressure’s too much man, I’m just tryin to do what’s best
    And I try, sit alone and I cry
    Yo I won’t tell no lie, not a moment goes by
    That I don’t pray to the sky, please I’m beggin you God
    Please don’t let me pigeon holed in no regular job
    Yo I hope you can hear me homey wherever you are
    Yo I’m tellin you dawg I’m bailin this trailer tomorrow
    Tell my mother I love her, kiss baby sister goodbye
    Say whenever you need me baby, I’m never too far
    But yo I gotta get out there, the only way I know
    And I’ma be back for you, the second that I blow
    On everything I own, I’ll make it on my own
    Off to work I go, back to this 8 Mile Road”

    Eric: Yup, if he were to read it I imagine he’d enjoy the portrait painted. I especially think he’d like “a verbal sniper with a shotgun,” which still has me smiling. : )

  28. I love the “sniper” line, but I was already following you on Twitter when I read, “One has to wonder just how long he spends on each song, considering how securely each syllable is cemented in place.”

    The hard Cs (consider/securely) followed by soft Cs (cemented/place) actually sound like manual labor, which good writing is, and which I notice when I see it/hear it.

  29. I just spent the last 3 weeks inhaling everything I could about the life story of eminem, Jay-z, Lil’Wayne, Tupac, and Notorious BIG. Why – because they are so ruthless with the INTENT of their copy. I think that if these guys were copywriters – they would be killing it – wait – they are!

    D#mn good post

  30. I never really appreciated Eminem’s music until I saw his movie “8 Mile”. The battle scenes in it are like his lyrics – genius. I saw an interview with him and he said he was rewriting and perfecting the battle scenes right up until they were filmed.

    I like a couple of his songs but I’m generally not a fan of his style of music. There’s no doubt though, that he’s a gifted lyricist whether you like his music or not.

    Great article. Thanks Sean.

  31. There’s so many good tips here, but my favorite is 1) Write and read all you can.

    Like they say, you are what you read. Reading good writing will dramatically improve your writing skills. But you’ve got to do this consistently… work it like a muscle.

  32. I love this post–and it really hit home for me.

    Like you, Sean, I had already formed an opinion of Eminem before I’d heard his music. And I’d forbidden my teen son to play Marshall’s music aloud when younger siblings were around. I felt sure Eminen offered nothing more than misogynistic, foul-mouthed braggadocio.

    Then one day I accidentally picked up my son’s Ipod instead of my own–and wound up listening to Eminem while walking the dog.

    An epiphany.

    I now see Marshall as a social critic–as well as a brilliant musician. (But I still don’t let young kids listen to him!)

    But to extend the Eminem/marketing analogy just a bit more: Like all good marketers, Marshall hooks with emotion. His love-hate relationship with his wife, his adoration of Hailie, etc., create an emotional underscore for all his stories–and suck us into his world.

  33. Stan: Thanks, Stan. So true. A version of this post that was in my head about six months ago and never made it out was, “What if Eminem Had Decided to be a Copywriter Instead?” It would’ve taken a much more humous approach, though I suppose it’s never to late.

    Sami: Have you heard the song “8 Mile”? It’s about 1% (if that) as popular as “Lose Yourself” but the rhyme scheme and intensity is just incredible. A piece of it is quote above in response to Danny’s comment. The movie is personified perfectly in that song and highlight the raw energy of the battle rather well.

    Ms. Freeman: He knows it too. Here’s what he had to say about it:

    Look at these eyes, baby blue, baby just like yourself, if they were brown, Shady lose, Shady Sits on the shelf,

    But Shady’s cute, Shady knew, Shady’s dimple’s would help, make ladies swoon baby, {ooh baby}, look at my sales,

    Let’s do the math, if I was black, I would’ve sold half, I
    ain’t have to graduate from Lincoln high school to know that…

    Lexi: True that, from the billboards on the way to school to my daughter’s homework when I pick her up. It’s everywhere, for good and bad, so long as you’re willing to have an open mind and pay attention.

    Tom: So many people want the fairy dust, but it just doesn’t work that way. Overnight success doesn’t exist. You want a body like Brad Pitt then you need to go to the gym every day. If you want to write like Stephen King then you need to read and write as often as you can. And you’re absolutely right, consistency is as important as anything else, if not more so.

    Lorraine: Beautifully said Lorraine. Every word, especially when you busted out with braggadocio and made me smile. I agree on every count – he is a brilliant social critic and absolutely hooks us with his raw emotion.

  34. You have said everything that believer to be true about Eminem and more. I have tried to explain to many why his music is so powerful and could not. “Just listen” was all I could say. Now I have this article to send to the naysayers. Thanks.

  35. This is awesome,, seeing Em make it to a blog like copy blogger, about em’s writing ability.

    Something that everyone allready new ablout him from his first album.

    Other thing you can take away from em, is he has a great ability to make you believe everything he talks about, something blogger sneed to do is be real and believable.

    Great Post.

  36. Kristina: Yeah, on the surface I wrote the post so I could talk about writing and marketing, but my real aim was so you and I could convert the naysayers one at a time! : )

    John Paul: Thanks, John. If there was artifice in Em’s music, I don’t think he ever would’ve managed to rise to the heights he has. His music can give you chills, but that wouldn’t be the case if it was only for shock value. And yes, bloggers in general can learn a lot about how real he is and has always been.

    Dana: Yes we can. Thank you.

  37. I love Marshall, Sean; and had the same experience although there was no wife to ask me to do it 🙂 I thought it was all some cleverly created rhyme until I actually listened to what he was saying.

    He’s brilliant; and those who don’t think so are people who insist on things being their way and are not open to creativity or appreciating an outstanding piece of work.

    I think one thing that draws us to him is that, beneath the hard core facade lies a very sensitive soul and it’s been bared to the world.

    Do I listen to his albums often? No. But when I do, I really listen..

    I like the idea about telling our own stories, digging back into our past and what makes us tick and drawing inspiration from that. All too often, no matter how many of us bloggers want to do it, fear holds us back when the finest writing can only come when we let it all out and free ourselves.

  38. Another excellent comment, David. Thank you. I loved this:

    “Do I listen to his albums often? No. But when I do, I really listen..”

    That’s exactly it for me. I’m a dad now, and the times when I can vibe to an Eminem record are few and far between, but whenever I do I listen to every word and walk away a better writer; as you said, more willing to share my stories and dig deeper into my past.


  39. Hey Sean:

    I have to say: You Got Me. Eminem is my favorite rapper. Yet, I never looked at him they way you just examined him.

    I think the reason I love him so much is because he is so personal and unique. His stories touch you and resonate with you. You know they are real because of the detail and the imagery that he uses.

    Only people who have been there are able to tell it like it. One thing that I liked the most from your article that you noticed is the fact that he was speaking from his experience and not making things.

    It seems like he put himself out there for everybody else to see. How many of us would be able to sacrifice our personal lives and tell the rest of the world about every vice that we have done in our lives? Rarely if ever we do that.

    Once you examine successful people like Eminem, you start to see that their success is not accident and that all there is behind success is hard and relentless work. It stops surprising us why some people are successful and others fail.

    Sometimes it comes down to being authentic and standing for what you say and believe it. Be real. Be Yourself and show it. People are always looking for real things in this world that is filled with falseness.

    Even if that realism is sometimes, hurtful and hateful, it is still real and that’s what is missing in most of our lives. Let us live.


  40. Hi

    Excellent piece. I have thought the same things about MM for some time… ‘Stan’, to me, was one of the best songs ever written…

    I just wish I had the foresight to have put this an in article as good as yours!

  41. There’s always been something about Eminem’s music that draws me in. But I never took the time to examine it.

    When it comes to music, my first impression is always based on the tune, the beat. If I like a song based on those criteria, I’ll then give the lyrics a listen.

    Time for me to take a much closer look at Em’s words.

    Thanks, Sean.

  42. Sean, I was thinking “murder my preconceptions of the alphabet” was a little reference to SDGaF – “I can’t rap anymore – I just murdered the alphabet” for those of us who’ve listened to his records ten billion times too. Happy accident!

  43. Great article. Being a rapper, AND a online marketer…I took alot from this story….and I’m even more convinced to tell my own story in the artistic way I’m able to.

    I think about how the online audience would accept me, the Internet Marketing me, and realize I am caring too much. I can’t please everyone – and I don’t want to. The audience that will respond to me, and become fans/customers, are those who can look past what they see…

  44. Shane: Thanks Shane! Time to give ’em a chance. Start with Stan. All the words are really easy to understand on first listen, which can make all the difference.

    Thomas: Very few of us. I know for me, I hold back getting too personal all the time, though I do it far more for my family’s benefit than my own. When I speak of my children online, I never use their real names and I often paint in broad strokes. This is because I feel as though it isn’t really my right to expose them when they haven’t asked. Same goes for my extended family. I would love to write about it as I would be fluid and passionate, but I know it would upset some people and so I don’t. I can’t imagine feeling the freedom of having no filter.

    OneLifeNoFear: LOL, thanks for the compliment. Yes, Stan is groundbreaking for sure.

    Cassie: Some of his beats are remarkable for sure, but for me they are only there to hang his brilliant lyricism. Check out Renegade, the duet with Jay-Z, and watch him take the ball away from Jay-Z over a deceptively simple beat. Lyrical genius for sure.

    Chloe: (Smile) There’s nothing accidental about the reference. That’s a great set of peepers on you!

    Mike: No doubt my man. You have to be true to yourself. Speak to everyone and speak to no one. Draw in the audience meant for you and hold them close.

  45. I am not a rap listener, and always heard about the bad parts and about em. But then found myself watching 8-Mile and suddenly welling up with hope and seeing this gritty, painfully honest story and listening to songs that made me want to rise up.

    Someone above said it – there’s too much false in the world. True art gets to the real, regardless of what’s there.

    Powerful stuff – and an incredible post.

  46. Annabel: Hey, you did add something! Yeah, it was passion, obsession for his art and a WHOLE lot of potty talk!

    Scott: Thank you, Scott. True art does get to the bone, though sometimes it is difficult to accept its origins. I think that’s why 8 Mile managed to surprise so many people.

  47. This article is BRILLIANT~!

    I may be a tad biased… I grew up a stone’s throw away from 8 Mile where Eminem lived.

    Now I only live by 23 Mile. Ouch.
    Anita @ModelSupplies

  48. OMG! Like everyone else, I too had no idea we could learn from Em’s unique ability.

    Sean you have provided some awesome tips that I will use from this point on. Never thought about some of the things you mentioned and now I’m wondering how I can be like Em?

    I just might create a “rap” blog post! Hmmm, not a bad idea!

    Thanks SO much for all the wonderful advice and awesome article. I just love this site!!!

    Deb 🙂

  49. This is my take Sean

    Eminem, you’re definitely one of the top 10 best rappers of all times – Even though Reggae is my genre of music, I respect Eminem and his craft – He has a unique style of combining syncopated beats with hard-core lyrics that keeps your head bopping. Eminem, why don’t you do collaboration with a Jamaican Dance Hall artist? It would be interesting to hear a record with you and Bounty Killer or Beenie man.

  50. Anita: BRILLIANT~!? See, now you’ve got me blushing. : > )

    Deb: I’ve done a few rap blog posts. They are always fun. No kidding, if you want some help tightening it up, I’d be happy to lend a hand. Just drop me an email at sean at gmail dot com and we’ll polish it to perfection.

    Peter: I wouldn’t be surprised if he does some collab in the future. It seems like he’s experimenting with the vocals a bit. There are an increasing number of songs where he adopts that dance hall lilt to his rhythm. Maybe someday.

  51. Great post!

    When I first heard Eminem, I too was like, “what the?” but after listening more, I realized his genius.

    There are some of his songs that go a bit too far for me, but the biggest things I see from him are: passion and drive to go forward, no matter what anyone says.

    That says a lot and thanks again for this great post.

  52. Everyone above me stole some of my thunder so anything I say will be a rehash of what came before me but I would like to say that I’ve been a huge fan of Eminem for a long time. Most of my business contacts would cringe to hear me say that but I’ve always enjoyed the genius that went into his writing, his lyrics are nothing short of genius.

  53. Best post I’ve read for a while and mainly because I agree with everything you wrote. He is a genius, and as you say, your wife taught you a valuable lesson.
    I think there is so much that can be learnt from one artist and just because there is this stigma that surrounds him doesn’t mean to say that you can’t appreciate his talent, dedication and pure, raw skill.

  54. I am an American who has had an old-fashioned classical education, taking Latin and Greek classes in high school and college. When I first heard Eminem I was surprised and delighted.

    It was great to hear a modern artist who truly expressed the power, range and depth of storytelling found in the ancient Greek plays, as your review so well describes. Those plays dealt with nasty topics and allowed characters to say passionate, evil things, because passion and evil are part of our complex nature.

    No matter how much American middle class culture has made life relatively safe and bland, relationships can stir those passions and remind us of our own potential for evil as well as intense and tender love.

  55. Nice. Your wife sounds very smart. I’ve felt this way about Eminem for awhile. I was wondering if there were others like me 🙂 He’s definitely someone you don’t want to like at first but if you admire someone who is obviously a perfectionist and puts their all into what they do, you can’t help but like his music. I admire his honesty, creativity and skill. The storytelling is like nothing I ever remember hearing in music before…at least on a regular basis. I think almost anyone can relate to his life/feelings in some way & he addresses things that most people wouldn’t touch. I think of his music as the thoughts I have when I’m extremely mad or hurt that I would never speak outloud.

  56. oh btw, if you haven’t heard his new cd…get it. I think it has some of the best material he’s ever done. A couple of my favs are Beautiful and My Darling. My Darling is very creative. Good stuff.

  57. It seems like we’ve been on the same wave length as I just wrote a post sharing my thoughts on how hip hop has made me a better copywriter…

    It’s definitely something to be considered, and with that being said, it’s important to make note that lyricism is what we can benefit from… not laffy taffy and bling bling.

  58. George: I used to be more tolerant of his songs that went to far because of their context, as we’ve talked about on Copyblogger before, but now I think his context has changed and I find that sort of stuff unnecessary and less digestible.

    David: I write for children and because of that it took me a while to publicly acknowledge me affection for Marshall, though I’m much more comfortable now. As long as I can clearly articulate why I feel the way I do, I’ve no problem. My own children know that I really like an artist named M&M and that they are not yet old enough for his “potty talk.”

    Jenny: My wife didn’t just open my eyes to Eminem, she opened a window to a lo of stuff I would have probably missed otherwise. Now the two of us together, when the children aren’t around can appreciate his talent, dedication and pure, raw skill together.

    John: Ooh John, I like the comparison to ancient Greek plays! Very nice. Yes, there are nasty characters and nasty, evil things that Marshall talks about. Some of it for shock value, but some of it simply because he is willing to go deeper than most artists are to unravel his perspective on human nature. Great comment, thanks!

    Payjturner: I have Relapse, and though his skills are obviously present, I found the album to be a disappointment overall. I couldn’t have been more excited for it, but I was hoping for a more grown up album with stories rather than punchlines. And some of the darker stuff on there, most notably Sick in the Head, was just to much for this point in his career in my opinion. Having said that, the good songs are definitely there and I am very much looking forward to Relapse 2 which should be out early next year and cover the more introspective side to his storytelling.

  59. Totally agree, the little man’s a genius. An angry genius, but hey, that goes with the territory sometimes. Interesting, too, that this appears precisely on a day when on my site features a similar article on the genius of lyrics in certain music (mine was up first, by the way). On the same page as CB once again.

    For more, try “Waiting in the Weeds” by Don Henley of the Eagles, on the Eagles 2-year old latest CD. Other end of the spectrum from Eminem — it’s good to diversify — but the precise same thing happens: the use of allegory, analogy and the pure artistry of the language is stunning. Henley is the Eminem of his genre.

    Music can be a writer’s greatest tool, even if they can’t carry a tune.

  60. Great Post Sean!!!!!

    I’m new to the Blogzone so my first entry will be a comment.
    I don’t like rap music but I love Eminem. Like you I had no real knowledge of him or his work except that he had received some bad press. Not about his work but his attitude.
    I listened to the rhythm and the rhyme which is usually how I decide if I want to like a song and decided to go on to the lyrics. After that I was completely hooked. His approach to all the elements you mentioned was pure genius. I couldn’t wait to hear more and I really looked forward to 8 Mile.
    I am amazed at the response your blog received. Is this typical or has everyone been waiting to sing his praise?
    Thanks for drawing me in and drawing me out!

  61. Hey Sean,
    Leave it to a breakdown of Eminem from you to bring me over to Copyblogger (and I’m totally not surprised at your choice of topic). Eminem always manages to make it onto my ipod, no matter what mix I’m making because he’s just so… addicting. I’m sure the infectious music and rhythm is a big part of that, but I always find myself rapping right along with him, listening to his story.

    Great, now you got me listening to Eminem but I have to keep it on the down-low because the kids are around. 🙂

  62. Larry: I love Don Henley, though I haven’t listened to him in years. This is super nerdy I realize, but one of my favorite albums when I was ten was “I Can’t Stand Still.” I loved “Them and Us” a lot, among all the others. I really like the line in one of the songs off the album, though my memory’s failing me at the moment: “There’s three sides to every story; yours, mine and the cold hard truth.” From the same era, I also love the way Jackson Browne writes and, of course, Springsteen.

    Allen: I’m with you, and I saw 8 Mile on opening day first showing, even took my old man who I’d already converted.

    As far as the response to this post, that has little to do with me and a lot to do with Copyblogger. I spent an hour or two on the post, but this site’s spent 4 years sharpening it’s reputation. One thing I am surprised about as far as the response though, is the lack of controversy. No one’s saying, “Yeah, but…” which I fully expected.

  63. HALLELUJIAH! I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for Eminem for all the reasons you listed, and it is SO nice to hear another writer acknowledge them — especially a former critic. Thank you!

  64. Kool Aid: Heya there, sorry I missed you! Yeah, the songs I listen to regularly I know all the words and, for the most part, can keep time with him though I admit my flow would invite about 80 bajillion pounds of rotten tomatoes. This post, and responding to it over the last couple of days, has really made me want to write another rhyme post. In fact, I wrote one yesterday, but it was only for my daughter while I was trying to get her to edit her work. Whenever I can make her laugh it’s pretty much a gold ticket to get her to tour the What I Want Her to Do Factory.

    Camille: Seriously, I don’t know how any writer could not give the man his due. They may hate everything he stands for, but the dude is a writer. Thanks, Camille.

  65. Interesting perspective about Eminem. Kudos to your wife on sparking the idea for your article. I just stumbled upon copyblogger today. Consider this useful blog bookmarked. I look forward to more intriguing ideas and points of view from your regular contributors and your readers.

  66. Just to follow up, the marketing aspect of your article has been very helpful. I have been searching for starting point to begin my own marketing efforts. As a blogger striving to be a resource for Dads, you have provided me with a much needed reference to easily comprehend.

  67. Great post, Sean. The way Eminem crafts his phrases and rhymes unrhymable words is truly awesome. Does he go way over the edge at times? Sure. Is he completely and totally himself in a way that most people are terrified to be? Absolutely. That’s part of his allure, and his success.


  68. You’ve given me a new respect for Eminem. There was almost none there before, but when you show that there is logic and seriously hard work behind what someone does it has to be noted.
    It’s the same drive and dedication that applies to so many other aspects of life.
    Nice work.

  69. Elijah: Sorry I missed you earlier. When time allows I’ll check out your hip hop copywriter article. And yes, it is always the lyrics and never the bling. Thanks.

    Vincent: Thanks for bookmarking, Vincent! You can’t do better than Copyblogger for copywriting tips, excellent perspective and unlikely parallels.

    CuteMonster: Thrilled we could help! I think there are probably a lot of us dads who are closet Eminem fans. Best of luck!

    PageWrite: Thanks! I tried to articulate some long marinating thoughts on an artist I respect and have a somewhat uncomfortable relationship with.

    Steve: Love it, Steve: “Is he completely and totally himself in a way that most people are terrified to be?” Well said. Marshall is clearly talking to himself half the time and that is definitely part of the allure.

    Chad: Thanks, Chad. Yeah, I couldn’t argue with anyone who wanted to despise the dude, but strip him of his props for drive and dedication – no way.

    Pavel: My pleasure, Pavel. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  70. Yes, Eminem is truly a unique artist who is able to mock everyone in an intriguing yet funny way. What really surprises me is that we can learn to write and to market the way he does. Great post! Thank you.

  71. hip hop will slowly catch up with its people.

    you JUST learned this stuff can be done with rap? haha

    Em’s stories are nice.

    Hip hop is the best vessel for what human beings have and are to offer.

    Good Looks on the writing tips.

  72. While hip hop is best appreciated when rapped, you can’t take the written part for granted. More than than rhyme and rhythm, the written lyrics reveal the mind of the maker. And this is what Eminem has in abundance.

  73. Luke: Pleasure, Luke. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Jacob: No, I’ve known rap was an excellent medium for storytelling since I first heard the Beastie Boys “Fight For Your Right to Party,” and the setting for this post starts a decade back, as stated in the first sentence. As far as the best vessel, I’d have to disagree. A vessel, yes, absolutely, but with countless other categories of music as well as film, television, novels, speeches, plays and all the other endless mediums which can now include a potent two minute video on YouTube, hip hop is merely A vessel which more often than not, still has some growing up to do.

    MJ: Thanks MJ. Absolutely – what works for selling millions of records can also, if done well, work for SEO services or anything else.

    Mel: Yep, and it is sometimes the darkest corners which are the most enlightening.


  74. And since we’re at it, why don’t we have a look at Tupac’s lyrics? Much has been said about his genious, but my question is, Where is his place against the likes of Eminem, Wu Tang Klan, and KRS1?

  75. brilliant work sean..ive been defending rap my whole life and now i can easily say ‘yeah yeah shutup and read this” without having to argue and could save my blood from boiling up and vaporizing..the first song i heard from em is kim on my friend’s computer and i was horrified. but then after about a week i picked up his cd and started listening to his album carefully and i was hooked after the first listen..and i had one thing to say about his song “kim”=freaking brilliant (after i took in all the lyrics the honesty , kept me wondering why someone else hadn’t thought of writing a fantasy tale like this before)..then i got his first album and i came to a conclusion that em is a genius after listening to 97’ bonnie and clyde and hw it connects to kim ..ive been an eminem fan a lyricist my self and and i already follow ur first tip..i read anything i can get my hands on and i have about 16 books filled with lyrics.. though i have lots more to learn..and the thing about eminem is ..he has soo much passion and u can feel it in his voice..listen to his song called “girls” where he lashes out at limp bizkit and if i were limp bizkit i would probably be sitting on my commode crying right now wiping my eyes with toilet paper..and hes very smart..he knows what to say and what to do next..from a very few artists, eminem and tupac have been the best at getting me to think.. and i think that’s what art should be all about..if it changes the way i look at things and change me in some kind of way ..the artist has accomplished his’s like giving the audience the chance to look at the world with a differnet pair of shades .eminem somehow manages to give me goosebumps..and eveytime i listen to one of his tracks(which i do over and over) i walk away scratching my head after figuring out or hearing something i hadn’t heard before..and about relapse..i think it was just an intro to his comeback and he said that he only concentrated on spitting after his writers block but the songs after relapse like the warning and forever are a sign that eminem is back on his tracks ..i started writing this thinking i would be brief but now i cant ill end with this..

    A place to spend my quiet nights, time to unwind
    So much pressure in this life of mine, I cry at times
    I once contemplated suicide, and woulda tried
    But when I held that 9, all I could see was my momma’s eyes
    No one knows my struggle, they only see the trouble
    Not knowin it’s hard to carry on when no one loves you
    Picture me inside the misery of poverty
    No man alive has ever witnessed struggles I survived
    Prayin hard for better days, promise to hold on
    tupac-gave me goosbumps

  76. Mel: I think Tupac was good, and that his death made him an instant legend, and I also believe that there are many phenomenal lyricists and musicians in the world of hip hop. I am by no means an authority, but pressing my ear to the exposure I’ve had, there has been no one who has done what Marshall has. Lyrics, music, honesty and dedication while addressing his critics and pushing the envelope. Certainly no one else has done it with his level of success.

    Nushay: Wonderful comment, Nushay. Thank you for sharing. I agree with you about Relapse. I am very much looking forward to Relapse 2, so I can hear the more introspective Eminem that I’ve been waiting for since The Eminem Show. Sure, we’ve seen it here and there, most notably I’d say in “When I’m Gone,” but I don’t think I’ve heard a classic song since that album eight years ago. Again, thank you for letting yourself go in the comment section.

  77. I have to admit, I also was skeptical of Eminem when he first became popular. I thought his music was trash initially. But a few years later, I too realized how amazing he truly is. I’m a huge fan now. I went to VooDoo Fest 2009 in New Orleans just to see him. Flew all the way from Portland, OR. Everything you pointed out is correct. There is much to be learned from his writing, and many other talents. He is, in a word, fearless. I love him.

  78. Sean, Marshall M. needs to pop in and write a line..
    The discussion you’ve generated is amazing because you picked a topic (read person) where people are either on one side or the other and somehow with your post, you have them all nodding their heads in agreement. How lyrical is that? 😉

  79. Great article Sean!! It really did accurately caputure the magnitude of eminems lyrical delivery and intellect.

    It may be added that not only does he capture the listner with his lyrical genious and increadible ability to tell a story in each individual song- in his albums not only does he battle his world (and those in it) but he battles himself. Something that always caught my attention was the re-occuring battle between eminem and his alter ego slim shady.. (which first made an appearance in the intro of the slim shady ep)!!

    I really believe it is more intentional than an excuse to be a bad guy or good guy!! It allows him to discuss his deepest feelings and internal conflicts.. I would love to hear your thoughts on the slim shady v eminem battle.. Thanks for a great read!!

  80. First, this post reminded me that I love music and I can be a mom and put Eminem back on the ipod and just skip it when the kids are around. Perhaps I will create a secret playlist with Eminem and most of the early Chili Peppers and so many others that I love!

    I, like you, was a very surprised Eminem supporter even though I am usually open to all kinds of music. I expected to find to find the vitriolic passion after hearing of his music. I did not expect the perfection of his lyrics and his total freedom in sharing his life to move me, and they did.

    I struggle with being concise in my writing and want to spend the time crafting my words so that my message is clear. Like you, I cannot share everything about my family but I can spend the time to make my own words more powerful. I need to practice what I preach to the kids and keep working to be better. I also need to scrap the fear and know that people will not always like me all the time. I need to write from my heart and Eminem certainly is a shining example of that.

    Thanks for the post, the great writing, and the reminders.

  81. David: Let’s start a campaign to get Marshall down here to comment! That would pretty much make my week, maybe even the month. And yeah, I expected some dissent, disagreement or even just a bit of general controversy, but NOPE. I think I’m surprised about that more than anything else with this post.

    Peter: You are right, listening to his internal conflict is rather frightening, but gives it you an ear to the door experience that leaves most other music far behind. There’s a lot of bravado for sure, but there’s also a great deal of self hate and, more than anything I feel, self exploration.

  82. Hi Brittany, looks like we just crossed one another. I think that’s a great lesson that Marshall can teach to anyone willing to pay attention: speak the truth, while being concise and passionate and you WILL develop a following. Dilute your message and try to gather everyone into your fold and, ultimately, you will gather very little.

  83. Loved this article – wasn’t expecting it from you – a lot like you were not expecting to appreciate Eminem. I wish for a brief moment in time that one of my sons could possess the talent he has. . I would have such amazing admiration for them! Thank YOU for giving me a great article/blog post to read!

  84. Who would have thought that Eminem could teach us a thing or two about blogging?

    I love the guy too, my brother and I actually. He first listened to his music after his movie came out around 2002. His music specially the first album has inspired people not just to sing their hearts out but to be honest with themselves too.

  85. Sean,
    What an elucidating job you did on addressing the raw talents and what one can learn from Eminem. Having had children (old enough for the CD) I heard the Eminem CD non-stop for months. I know every word and backstory.
    What I find difficult to reconcile with Mr. Mathers’ body of work is that, like any art form, one can appreciate the talents of the artist without “liking” what one is hearing/seeing, etc…The talent is certainly there, but I can’t stand the “art-form” in which he chose to express it. I say “yuck” to his body of work for one reason only: I can’t stand listening to it. I find it grating to my ears and assaulting to my (very low standards, normally) of decency.

  86. Joellen: Because as humans we take great pleasure in overcomplicating things. I myself am often guilty. : )

    Jennifer McIntyre: My pleasure, Jennifer. Perhaps your son does have the talent, it’s just lying in a different direction. Dig it up and get out the fossil brush!

    Rita: Yeah, I’ve no problem with the genre. I love a lot of his beats and when he puts it with such powerful language, well, it’s one of the first things I’ll put on when I have the house to myself and I’m not writing (a complete rarity to begin with!). There are always songs on his CD’s that I don’t care for, and at least a couple that I find unlistenable, but iTunes makes it easy to ignore those forever. The good ones, for me, stay in me head and rattle around all the live long day.

  87. I didn’t like Stan ’cause it was too corny but I do remember I thought, wow, that’s nice of him to tell the kids: hey I am just talking here, don’t “actually” kill your teachers, please dawg!
    Otherwise I guess I never payed too much attention to either him or his music. Will go back and give it a try. Thanks for the surprise: )

  88. no wonder Eminem became a hit recording artist… his artistry encompasses a lot… thanks for sharing all these things Sean:)

  89. This might be one of my favorite posts of the year across any blog. I’ve always been an Eminem fan for exactly the reasons you articulated. He’s a storyteller and an extremely effective communicator of emotion. While I don’t always agree with his terminology, stance on an issue, or ideas, I have always appreciated his ability to use words as tools, which as writers is what we are all aspiring to do ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing 😉

  90. Sean, The Eminem Show is also my choice for Marshall’s best work… by far. I can tell you song by song why that is, but I’d love to hear what you think about the album overall.

    Slim to Marshall to Eminem in 3 albums doesn’t seem to be a coincidence. But then again, nothing Marshall does is by accident.

  91. Ina: I’d have to say on Stan, Marshall managed to take something that COULD have been corny and made it rather chilling instead. When I first heard that song, I heard an artist looking an uncomfortable situation in the eye without flinching. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    Joven: My pleasure, Joven. Glad you liked it!

    Nacie: Wow, Nacie. Thank you! That is high, high praise indeed. I too don’t always agree with what Marshall says, but I am glad there is someone willing to be so raw and honest. He uses words as tools better than most writers and I believe anyone who slings syllables for a living could learn a lot. Thanks for the compliment, really.

    Brian: Wow, I took my dad to a taping of Jeopardy for his birthday today and came home to a Copyblogger post on 50 Cent and an invitation to pontificate on the merits of The Eminem Show. Cool. I’ll be back!

  92. Hiya Brian,

    Seriously, ever since that post dropped last week, I’ve thought about all the things I didn’t say. It’s also prompted me to listen to a lot of Eminem this past few days.

    For those of you following the comments, I hope you enjoy the following verbal diarrhea. : )


    The Eminem Show is not only my personal favorite but I think it’s his best work by far as well. I think that’s why I’ve been so disappointed with everything since. I thought Marshall Mathers was better than Slim, and the Eminem Show better even still. I am still hoping it wasn’t his peak.

    The Eminem Show was the first of his records I anticipated prior to its release. The two before I embraced only after the fact. By the time the third record was released, I was willing to stand in line and wasn’t disappointed. There are songs on that album that are devastatingly good. The album as a whole is impossibly confident and Marshall isn’t just at the top of his game, but by that point in his career he knew there was a large population hanging on his every word and it’s evident in nearly every other track.

    Let’s see, I’ll pick five songs to go off on.

    Cleaning Out My Closet: What could I possibly say about this song? Probably more than any other track, this is the one I think of when I think about Em. There are DEVASTATING lines in this song. Enough so that I’d gladly call it a masterpiece – a compliment that I think is handed out way too often. First off, the dude works Munchausen’s Syndrome naturally into a song, which is impressive, but he also ends the song with this:

    “…your gettin’ older now and it’s cold when your lonely, and Nathan’s growing up so quick, he’s gonna know that your phoney, and Hailie’s getting so big now, you should see her, she’s beautiful, but you’ll never see her, she won’t even be at your funeral, see what hurts me the most is you won’t admit you was wrong, bitch, do your song, keep tellin’ yourself that you was a mom, but how dare you try to take what you didn’t help me to get, you selfish bitch, I hope you $@%ing burn in hell for this $@&, remember when Ronnie died and you said you wished it was me, well guess what, I am dead, dead to you as can be…”

    And it isn’t just the words – it’s the inflection. Not only does Marshall prove his chops as a writer, he brings it as an actor as well. His tonal changes are unbelievable. Every MA! sounding like an accusation. Fierce and unforgettable.

    Hallie’s Song: I love this song. I know this one gets hated on a bit, but I see it as tender and wonderfully simple. The music is a basic track that anyone with Garageband might be able to do. He starts out singing, clearly looking for notes that aren’t there and barely caring, then slips into his usual rhythm by songs end.

    I love this part:

    “Now look, I love my daughter more than life in itself, but I got a wife that’s determined to make my life livin’ hell, but I handle it well, given the circumstances I’m dealt. So many chances, man, it’s too bad, coulda had someone else. But the years that I’ve wasted are nothing to the tears that I’ve tasted. So here’s what I’m facin’: 3 felonies, 6 years of probation. I’ve went to jail for this woman, I’ve been to bat for this woman. I’ve taken bats to peoples backs, bent over backwards for this woman…”

    And yes, I used the word tender to describe a song that also has lines about pummeling people with baseball bats. But hey, that’s Marshall for you!

    White America: He deals with his race in this song better than in any other.

    “Straight out the tube, right into your living room I came, and kids flipped when they knew I was produced by Dre, that’s all it took, and they were instantly hooked right in, and they connected with me too because I looked like them, that’s why they put my lyrics up under this microscope, searchin’ with a fine tooth comb, its like this rope, waitin’ to choke, tightening around my throat, watching me while I write this, like I don’t like this, nope, all I hear is, lyrics, lyrics, constant controversy, sponsors working ’round the clock, to try to stop my concerts early, surely hip-hop was never a problem in Harlem, only in Boston, after it bothered the fathers of daughters starting to blossom, so now I’m catchin’ the flack from these activists when they raggin’, actin’ like I’m the first rapper to smack a bitch, or say faggot, $^#*, just look at me like I’m your closest pal, the posterchild, the #*(&%#&’ spokesman now for…”

    Without Me: This one just for sheer writing and delivery. He doesn’t say anything overly amazing, but what he does say he says with more rhythm than most humans can hope for in a lifetime:

    “A visionary, vision of scary. Could start a revolution, pollutin the airwaves – a rebel, so just let me revel and bask in the fact that I got everyone kissin my ass {*smak*} And it’s a disaster, such a catastrophe for you to see so damn much of my ass; you asked for me? Well I’m back, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na (*bzzt*) Fix your bent antenna tune it in and then I’m gonna enter in, endin up under your skin like a splinter. The center of attention, back for the winter. I’m interesting, the best thing since wrestling, infesting in your kid’s ears and nesting {*bzzt*} Testing, attention please. Feel the tension, soon as someone mentions me. Here’s my ten cents, my two cents is free. A nuisance, who sent? You sent for me?”


    Sing for the Moment: Another one where he’s looking right in the eyes of his fans, but not the ones like you or me who are far removed from his reality, but rather those who are actually laying on the same filthy mattress where he once was:

    Yet everybody just feels like they can relate, I guess words are a (*#(&$(#) they can be great. Or they can degrade, or even worse they can teach hate. It’s like these kids hang on every single statement we make. Like they worship us, plus all the stores ship us platinum. Now how the #(*)# did this metamorphosis happen? From standin’ on corners and porches just rapin’, to havin’ a fortune, no more kissin’ ass. But then these critics crucify you, journalists try to burn you, fans turn on you, attorneys all want a turn at you. To get they hands on every dime you have, they want you to lose your mind every time you mad…

    There are of course other songs with standout lines. There are parts of “Business” and “Till I Collapse” that are crazy good. I’m sure I’m forgetting something or leaving something out entirely. In short, and yes I realize there’s nothing short about this comment, Eminem brought his best to the studio for this record. He was asking bold questions and picking fights with birds with more meat on their bones. Unfortunately, it also seems like he was setting himself up for something he hasn’t been able to deliver since. I’m looking forward to Relapse 2 or the Refill or whatever it’s called. I believe he still has it in him.

  93. Sean: A seriously brilliant take on Eminem. I too was less than thrilled with him until I actually listened to his lyrics, then I was, awed(?), floored(?), stunned(?), astounded(?). He really does have an unbelievable knack for creating a feeling, developing a story, and making the listener rethink what they thought they knew.

  94. Hmmmm, i like this article and I dont like this article.

    I like it because you cover some important parts of blogging and Marketing and relating it to Eminem is a great way for the comparisons BUT it feels forced to me. What you have put here can be related to any rapper and I think there are better issues and more relevant issues you could have used for Eminem.

    Also, Eminem is an incrdiblee rapper and his 1st 2 albums are classics but the reason he managed to do the marketing and contrevisal stuff was because he was cosigned by the most respected rapper of all time, Dr Dre. If you listen to Eminem’s 1st album “Infinate”, he was not that contrevisal, he was not experimenting that much with beats and it hardly sold. He tried to put himself out there but was always getting pushed back until he came 2nd in a rap battle and an intern told Dre about him. If any rapper put himself out there the most before getting signed it was 50Cent.

    Like i said before, good read, good principles but not sure if the connection with Eminem was strong enough. However, it is a good headline 😉

  95. I already tried it: true, if it was just amazing rhymes and tireless work, Eminem wouldn’t have blown up nearly as big, I believe. It was that he had a story and was obviously so human, for better of worse, that helped him connect to so many people.

    Andrew: I’ve gotta disagree. Not only was it not forced, it was an easy parallel to draw. And there are plenty of rappers that could never gain these comparisons because their art is sub par. I’m not even saying that Marshall is the best, I’m just saying that many musicians from every type of backbeat have bottom rung players.

    As far as Em only making it because of Dre., again I have to disagree. He got the good Dr.’s attention because of the freestyle, but it was HIM on the freestyle, not Dre. Who’s to say he wouldn’t have found another mentor or made it on his own somehow? Infinite is basic compared to his later albums, sure, but it’s pretty amazing for being not much more than a drum machine and wisecracking personality saturated in obvious sorrow. It wasn’t that he needed Dre., he needed studio time and money. The Beatles couldn’t have made Rubber Soul without making Meet the Beatles first.

    Copyblogger never runs a bad headline, but the content on this puppy is every bit as good as the promise. I’m glad you enjoyed the read. : )

  96. this is a great post for the coming 2010!
    I now a big believer, building a business is a process and I think many people fall into the ‘internet marketing hole’ because of the hype and pitch thrown at them, quick cash, rich quick, $100,000 in a month, etc.

    Eminem has shown that from where he was to where he is now, it’s a PROCESS and it ain’t easy!

    All the best for 2010 everyone!

  97. I think many people fall into the ‘internet marketing hole’ because of the hype and pitch thrown at them, quick cash, rich quick, $100,000 in a month, etc.

  98. I’m a 57 year old middle-to-upper middle class white former soccer mom of 6 kids who thought i was crazy to latch on to him. I have been praising Eminem since I first heard ‘Lose Yourself’ and was moved to watch, then buy 8 Mile. The guy’s a genius. I have always seen him as a true artist, nothing more. You have captured and explained exactly why I feel this way.

  99. Kevin: Well said, Kevin. Empty hype is a giant hole. The beauty, and success, both lie in the process. Happy New Year to you!

    Carey: My pleasure. And man alive! I’ve not even seen 8 Mile 7 times. Thanks for the compliment!

    Lesley: No doubt, the dude is a genius. I’m glad my wife encouraged me to catch that ball early. And good on you for catching it as well. Happy New Year!

    Vince: So I take it you’re not a Marshall Fan?

  100. Sean, whatever talent Mathers may have, he’s a vile, despicable human being, like so many of the more successful rappers.

    It’s disgusting to see him lauded this way, which gives him a legitimacy he doesn’t deserve.

    His Mariah Carey dis says it all.

    He’s a lowlife.

  101. I do hear you, Vince. And I understand where you’re coming from, but life isn’t that black and white. He’s not being rewarded for being vile, he’s being recognized for some rather undeniable brilliance. History if filled with great men who have done horrible things. The difference with Marshall is that he is so obviously public with his. I’m of the mind that good learning can come from anywhere, and Marshall’s taught me a lot.

  102. Well, Sean, I’d say he’s taught you the wrong things.

    Mathers has misdirected his skills, such as they are– he’s doing a minstrel show, playing in blackface for The Man, and his persona is an insulting caricature.

    Did I say he’s also a shameless opportunist?

    As Seth Colter Walls so eloquently put it:

    “Is there a ‘threaten to murder someone’ button over at Universal Music Group–the owner of Interscope… that gets pushed whenever Slim Shady fails to move a million units in the first week?”

    I’m not going to split rhetorical hairs to argue my point, so I’ll refer you to Matt Taibbi’s essay, The Imus Sanction, in Rolling Stone.

    I especially liked this bit:

    “Satan himself couldn’t have designed a more effective vehicle for marginalizing black culture than modern hip-hop. ”

    Once again, white corporate honky man has co-opted black culture.

    God, how I wish Malcom X would rise from the grave and kick some ass.

  103. Vince: Hi Vince, sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

    I have to disagree about Marshall doing a minstrel show. This might be true if he grew up in the suburbs or something. But he didn’t. He went to an all black school in an all black neighborhood, while living in an all black trailer park. It’s not caricature if it’s swimming in the molecules around you.

    I wouldn’t disagree that he’s a shameless opportunist, but I don’t think that negates what he does have to teach. I believe good lessons can come from everywhere. Coal mines may be filthy, but they also help to power our lives.

    I agree with you about modern hip-hop marginalizing black culture. Two thumbs up, righty-o. But that argument does nothing to to dim Em’s remarkable skill with language, or the tireless work ethic that put him at the top.

    Rick: Maybe most of us. : )

  104. ” Not only can Eminem craft a compelling argument in prose, he can also structure it in a way that would dazzle Dr. Seuss, not only by rhyming words that shouldn’t rhyme, but by packing more poetry into a verse than should be technically possible. ”

    That’s why Eminem became a hit recording artist because of his talent.

  105. Sean,

    Wow. I stumbled on through a Google search on co-registration, of all things. I was reading the post made by Brian Clark titled “How Co-Registration Can Build Your Fan Club Fast” when I saw the title of this post here and thought I wasn’t reading it right. I clicked on it, read the post, then all the comments, and as they say, the rest is history.

    What a perfect parallel you have drawn with this post. I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said already by someone above me, but man this was inspiring. Thank you very much for giving me renewed motivation to persevere in succeeding in my IM business.

    Eminem truly is a genius, and I am so happy to not be the only one who thinks so.

  106. Nicely done! The dissection of Em. This article truly inspired to thinking differently about writing. Inspiration is the wind of life, you never know where it might come from! (smile)

    With a mind opened to the new, here I am, absorbing my sponge with new liquids. This article will prove to be life changing for me. How specifically? (Smile)

    I won’t flood this article comment with those thoughts here, not the place, obviously. That will be an article coming soon from me.

    Back to the article, it is important to dissect many successful fruits today! There is so much to learn from that which many don’t see.

    Committing to the craft of writing requires “Doing The Knowledge” and plenty of reading and learning to keep up which is only for the passionate.

    Thanks for the article today!! I owe you much!

  107. Thanks for the great article. I also am a songwriter and find that there is definitely a parallel between great songwriting and great writing. I can sense from this article that you really got the essense of what Em is about and that is exactly what great writing is suppose to do. It inspires you to think and then act – which is what your article did for me. I went and wrote a song! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Vivian Clement

  108. As a teenager I grew up listening to lots of hip hop by artists such as Run DMC, LL Cool J, Snoop and Dr Dre, and was pleasantly surprised when the phenomenon that was Eminem appeared on the scene.

    As a father, and having worked with young people who embrace much of what many of these artists communicate as ‘values’ for living, though I wouldn’t endorse much of what Eminem ‘spits’ (raps about), it’s fair to say that he’s a lyrical genius, who has worked tirelessly at mastering his craft.

    If that same diligence were to be applied by many of the young people who listen to his music, they’d go a long way.

    Good post by the way!

  109. There’s a lot you can learn from artists like Eminem, 50 cent, lil wayne, Jay Z, etc. Hard work, determination, positive attitude toward improving their craft, being “addicted to success” as 50 pointed out once. They are true inspirations to me!

  110. Hey now that you have mentioned this, I will try and listen to him more because I am one of the guys who has dismissed him for years. That changed when I saw on TV, just last week, the film 8 Mile (2002).I liked him.
    So much for judging a book by the cover

  111. One of the best ever!!

    “If I were to die murdered in cold blood tomorrow
    Would you feel sorrow or show love
    Or would it matter
    Can never be the lead-off batter of things
    Shit for me to feed off
    I’m see-saw battling
    But theres way too much at stake for me to be fake
    There’s too much on my plate
    And I came way too far in this game to turn and walk away
    And not say what I got to say
    What the fuck you take me for? a joke? you smoking crack?
    Before I do that, I beg Mariah to take me back
    I get up ‘for I get down, run myself in the ground, ‘for I put some wack shit out
    I’m trying-a smack this one out the park, five-thousand mark
    You all steady trying to drown the shark
    Ain’t gonna do nothing but piss me off
    Lid to the can of whoop ass, just twist me off
    See me leap out, pull the piece out, fuck shooting I’m just trying to knock his teeth out
    Fuck with me now, bitch, let’s see you freestyle
    Talk is cheap, motherfucker if you’re really feeling froggish, leap
    You’re slim, you’re gonna let him get away with that?
    He tried to play you, you can’t let him ‘scape with that
    Man I hate this crap, this ain’t rap,
    This is crazy the way we act
    When we confuse hip-hop with real life when the music stops”

  112. This is a fantastic piece of writing, I knew Eminem was hilarious and talented I had just never realised how this applied to me and my writing. Thanks!

  113. Sean even though I’m many months late I still need to thank you so much for putting Marshall’s art out there for observation. As an Em fan from day 1 you have to defend the man like non other, its always been an uphill fight trying to get people to look past the content and stare at the concepts. Once people get past that their instantly hooked.

    Its funny how so much has changed in the last couple of years esp. during his hiatus. I keep thinking about how “the Eminem Show” was him demanding respect from his peers and critics and wanting to be placed on the same pedestal as the Jay z’s, Nas’ Biggie and Tupac. Despite all his success and riches the one thing he wanted more than any of that was recognition which he conceded he would never get on songs like “Till I Collapse” and more so his verse on “we’re back”. Now years later, every rapper coming up looks to him as their idol, critics place him atop every top 5 mc’s list and there is a general high regard for him as a legend.

  114. Eminem was great, but as already mentioned, Relapse was generally pretty disappointing.

    A underground named Haystak has replaced Eminem for me — he’s also white, but that’s not really the point — he’s, bar none, the greatest lyricist I’ve ever heard.

    If you have even a passing appreciation for Eminem, you should check him out. Also, his new album is pretty much an 18 track Eminem-diss.

    His primary complaint? Eminem stopped pushing himself artistically after Proof died and it’s time to shake it off and get back in the ring.

    Here’s a few tasty bars:

    I lost two good dudes since you lost P/
    Right now, I hear ’em both talking to me/
    saying “Hey, Fat Boy, you better get that dough/
    and once you get a hold him don’t ever let go”

    what’s next, maybe something new on iTunes?/
    I’m looking for the R.I.P. Proof goodbye tune/
    you know, the one that make everybody cry to/
    that you got sitting right there inside you/
    the fact is, you’ll close your eyes and snore again/
    and if not, then i’ll see you on tour again

    and the last two bars of this song are kind of genius for what they say and don’t say all at once:

    you in it for a minute and i’m in it for life/
    all these bars and i ain’t mentioned your wife

    here’s a link to the song:

  115. Hi Sean,

    Thank you for this article. It really opened up a different prespective for me on marketing in general.

    I am a fan of his, but more a fan of his talents and what he has achieved. There is no denying that he is talented.

    Great article.


  116. Wow!.. After reading this article, I had to leave a comment. I agree with everyone here… ‘Em is a lyrical genius. I’ve always enjoyed his razor sharp, word-play and his unorthodox delivery. His run-on sentences have always been intriguing and it seems as if he’s getting better.. Is that even possible? Anyway, I want to thank you for this article- it is definitely unique and since I am a huge hip hop fan, I had to show some respect. Eminem, a true writer.

  117. I love this article! It marries two somewhat unrelated fields and mashes them together. Lessons to be learned, regardless of whether you like him as an artist or not.

    I do find the author gets kind of caught up in trying to sound ‘hip’ or ‘lyrically together’ though. If he concentrated more on the quality of his sentences rather than appealing to the wiggers, it would read a lot better. Still a great concept and very valid points though!

  118. Like a kid you can not fool, the raw emotion and honesty that you can not hold back, that shines thru like an arch welder’s glare, an artist of any type shines brightly, radiates deeply. Eminem is a poet, captivating but angry. Seems to have found a way to market that sharp edge, broken glass history and attached baggage. Anyone that can tell his mom on the radio air waves and ipods around the globe he is cleaning out his closet and mom, you’re part of that removal process is wow. Intense, a rebel on the highway.

    I stumbled in to check out the wordpress theme thesis and am a peddler of property…and you got me to put a couple time quarters in the jukebox and thinking about Limp Bizkit and other tunes I miss, suddenly need a fix of. Thanks for your commentary. Bobby Vinton was Bluer Than Blue and rose in the charts but with money pouring in, he wasn’t so depressed and the hits dried up. Hope therapy or income don’t have the same effect on the musical artistry of Mster.

  119. I thought Eminem’s songs are nothing but junk. Associating Eminem to Writing and Marketing makes sense in everything. It made me think to follow his footsteps… no, not his songs.. but his achievements.

  120. Have you heard Em’s new despicable freestyle? Its fire..Oh and he dropped a nice new single too called “not afraid”..i think you will love it since you dislike relapse..even eminem admit that relapse was “ehhh”..LOL..comment on that yeah!

  121. Excellent post. Can’t believe it took me this long to find it. Eminem is an artist I don’t really care for but he is talented and a marketing machine.

  122. excellent post dude….i thought i was one of few internet nerds who loves eminem. do you listen to any other hip hop?

  123. Just like to say thank you Sean for this fantastic information. I’m a junior looking into the world of marketing and copy writing is my first stop, this article has put everything perfectly into perspective. Eminem is my favourite every lyricist, but reading this I’d learnt of the comparisons of his talent and what copy writing is like. This will surely help me in the long run. Thanks

  124. This is my first time reading this blog and WOW what a great post, I’ve now been reading for over an hour and I’m at wokr I better stop. :-)…. until I get home that is. The comments were great also, I disagree with only 1 comment and that was the comment that Sean made re: not being able to image 50 Cent going through a dictionary like Em did. Sean why not? are you judging a book by it’s cover have you read about him or seen the movie get rich or die trying I’m not mad at what you said just confused.

  125. Hi Ang,

    50 does what he does well, but he hardly pushes language in the way Marshall does. At his best, Em runs circles around everyone else in mainstream hip-hop, while 50 is content to run through the same thing over and over; thematically, rhythmically and verbally. I’ve heard a lot of 50 songs, but can’t once remember thinking “WOW” at a single rhyme or thought he strung together.

  126. If there’s something that is holding you back within yourself, there is no better song than Lose Yourself. Eminem is a phenomenal artist, and you did a phenomenal job of relating writing and marketing to his style. Many folks assume he’s just another rapper, but it takes actually listening to his lyrics to understand that he is far from just another rapper….

  127. Eminem’s is without a doubt my best all time lyricist. It’s like he wraps (no pun intended) his words around a page. Shivers is all I can say.

    What I learn from him is be passionate about what you write, become better every time you do it, give 200% and keep on practicing.

  128. Eminem is just awesome. He is the GOD of rap world. I am a big fan of EMINEM and his lyrics are my life. His songs give me the inspiration how to live the life. Eminem is the best rapper and we all should learn one thing from him i.e deidcation to work, do that thing that you like. Eminem is the incredible the way he is singing is awesome and he is mine GURU…………………RAP IS MY RELIGION AND EMINEM IS MY GOD…..

  129. First of all, I have read this page from top to bottom and what I can say is just, GREAT POST! and GREAT DISCUSSION also.

    Secondly, for Sean, and all of you here, thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions.

    Then, same as you Sean, when I first heard some of the crafts that were sung by Eminem in the early years of his career, I thought of “this guy is an ass” thing totally a worthless guy who just raps for the sake of rapping…

    But I’m fond of watching and listening to music videos from some of the music channels available in t.v. (cause I’m not fan of YouTube during that time) then eventually heard and read the lyrics from the other songs of this guy played on those music channels. A particular song that make me a “Fan” of this guy is “Cleaning out my closet” ( you all probably know why ) and other songs from the album ( forgot the name ).

    From then I start listening, watching and some what discovering the other side of this guy as well as some of his songs and albums, then wait for future songs and collaborations he might come up with.

    As per writing and marketing concerns, this guy is really awesome ( as he make his way here in this blog ). Your post, as well as the discussions in this guide totally resembles how talented and remarkable Eminem is.

    Again thanks for this great article.

    Christian Guico.

  130. Immortal Technique is a better lyricist. Oh, look, it’s even on-topic!

    “Positive Balance”

    Yeah, you know how it goes, positivity, yeah
    My opinion is solid ground but you’re a common hater
    Splitting and dividing on numbers like a denominator
    Third-eye navigator movements are necessary
    Everything you see in videos is secondary
    You need positivity like you need respect in jail
    Because without balance you’ll be making negative record sales
    Neg-neg-negative record sales, ziga-zam, Technique, like this

    I jerk off inside books and give life to words
    Leaving concepts stuck together you probably never heard
    I love when people think I’m psychologically disturbed
    Cause it means I overloaded their neurological nerves
    Rappers try to serve me with disgusting incompetence
    But I keep it positive with ultimate dominance
    Meditating with Native Americans close to Providence
    I speak to the spirits of ancestors at pow-wows
    But rumor has it that you’re getting raped like Lil’ Bow Wow
    Now listen industry motherfuckers, don’t get offended
    Remember, that I’ll bring an end to your pretender agenda
    And render contenders dismembered, bend the fabric of time
    And put your soul in a blender
    You’re living a lie like thinking Jesus was born in December
    Instead of catering to labels, something’s gotta give
    I’ll rip the electrons out your body and make you positive
    I’ve seen a lot of kids come and go with marketing gimmicks
    Because without balance, you don’t last more than a minute
    This ain’t a game, I’ll beat the shit out of you at the line of scrimmage
    I rock shows in the ghetto, nigga you stuck in the village
    I wanted to spit on the radio since I was eleven
    But I can’t afford the pay-ola for Hot 97’s
    So I make paper underground, and I’m soon to blow
    Moving tapes like Biggie’s ghost at Bad Boy studios
    [Biggie – Hypnotize sample]

    “Leaving the Past”

    [Verse 1]
    They told me I would never make it, I would never achieve it
    Reality is nourishment, but people don’t believe it
    I guess it’s hard to stomach the truth like a bulimic
    it’s a dirty game and nobody is willing to clean it
    But this is for the paraplegic, people dreamin’ of runnin’
    ladies married to men who don’t please ’em, dreamin’ of comin’
    verbally murderous like David Berkowitz when I’m gunnin’
    Some cowards on the internet didn’t think I would sell
    scared to talk shit in person, cause they’re stuck in a shell
    and couldn’t understand the pain of being stuck in a cell
    Hell is not a place you go, if you’re not a Christian
    it’s the failure of your life’s greatest ambition
    It’s a bad decision to blindly follow any religion
    I don’t see the difference in-between the raw and the wrong
    Soldiers emptyin’ their clips at little kids and their moms
    I’m just like a desperate motherfucker strapped to a bomb
    Humanity is gone, smoked up in a gravity bong
    by a democrat republican Cheech and Chong
    Immortal Technique, you never heard me preachin’ a song
    I’m not controversial, I’m just speakin’ the facts
    Put your hands in the air like you got the heat to your back
    and shake your body like a baby born addicted to crack
    And since life is a gamble like the craps tables at Vegas
    I freestyle my destiny, it’s not written in pages

    [Verse 2]
    I hate it when they tell us how far we came to be
    as if our people’s history started with slavery
    Painfully I discovered the shit they kept a secret
    this is the exodus like the black Jews out of Egypt
    I keep it reality based with the music I make
    brought the truth to your face with the style I run wit
    like the navy missile that shot down flight eight-hundred
    I’m like the Africans who came here before Colombus
    and from the 1500’s until after the model
    I watch Latin America get raped in the sorrow
    You see the Spaniards never left despues de Colon
    and if you don’t believe me, you can click on Univision
    I’ve never seen so much racism in all of my life
    every program and newscast, all of them white
    It’s like Apartheid with 10 percent ruling the rest
    that type of stress’ll make me put the fucking tool to your chest
    Step in my way nigga, I wouldn’t wanna be ya
    I burn slow like pissing drunk with gonorrhea
    I’ll do a freak show in North Korea, burning the flag
    while Jay Edgar Hoover politicians dress up in drag
    Try to confuse you, makin’ it hard to follow this:
    capitalism and democracy are not synonymous
    You swallow propaganda like a birth control pill
    sellin’ your soul to the eye on the back of the dollar bill
    But that will never be me, ’cause I am leavin’ the past
    like an abused wife with the kids, leavin’ your ass
    Like a drug addict clean and sober, leavin’ the stash
    unbreakable Technique leavin’ the plane crash
    I’m out with the black box and I refuse to return
    I spit reality, instead of what you usually learn
    and I refuse to be concerned with condescending advice
    ’cause I’m the only motherfucker that could change my life

    Some people think I won’t make it
    but I know that I will
    Escape the emptiness
    cause that shit is slow and it kills
    the flow and the skill
    I made y’all believe it at last
    You can make the future
    but it starts with LEAVING THE PAST

  131. Just came across this post featured in the “popular” section. Anything with “Eminem” is going to catch my eye. Great post — I went through the exact same evolution as you did, so it was fun to read. I think he’s got major talent. Nice tie-ins to marketing / writing — the genius of Marshall apparently knows no bounds 😉

  132. Hi Sean,

    You are right on the money…..

    Storytelling is one of the single most profitable skills you can
    learn in marketing — whether you do your “thing” writing
    sales copy, shooting videos, yapping away in podcasts, wowing
    people on tele-seminars, or simply haunting forums and social media

    Or God forbid–scaring white folk with your raps.

    Just getting people’s attention in today’s world–is just plain tough.


  133. Very inspiring article about Eminem. Saw 8mile years ago and it’s still his best work and story. Don’t have any of his albums but the odd mp3. When his songs play on the airwaves they always make me listen. Keep it going, love your writing.

  134. Very, very good post man. Em is definitely one of the elite lyricists out there. While some people will debate whether or not that’s true and that there are other lyricists that are better (but just not “known), Em delivers his words in a unique way that not only everyone can relate to, but can understand.

    Regardless of what line of business you’re in, content is key. It’s the only thing you have to communicate, whether it be spoken or written. Without it, the world would be lost and we wouldn’t be able to gain and share knowledge or express our emotions.

    Like they say, the more unique content, the better. The better story you have to tell, the more exposure and reception you’re going to get.

  135. This is an article that whacked me out of my mid-afternoon coffee.

    I can so totally relate; I have been writing half my life even though
    the only reader is me. I especially liked the editing part. You have to be
    merciless with your own work, even if it feels like chopping both
    of your hands when you do. I’ve been doing a lot of chopping since
    then; now, I’m earning my hands back, and using them to make a
    living. You see, English is not even my first language.

  136. Truly the greatest rapper alive. You embedded him in this article and highlighted him in such a powerful way. For this alone, I applaud you.

  137. Not only is this an awesome post, not only do I agree on every level about Eminem´s utterly skillful writing, not only do I admire the analogy made regarding the importance of content and learning from things that you might not usually give the time to, not only is this one of the few blog posts I have read all the way to the end, BUT, it has been receiving comments for over a year! It is truly standing the test of time and evidently deserves its positioning on copyblogger´s most popular articles. (AND his new album Recovery is a masterpiece!)

    I salute you Sean, now onwards with my writing!

  138. great article and comments – seems more like a personal blog/bit of passionate musical criticism than anything to do with writing marketing blurb, and a bit late ‘-)

    having flashbacks to when The Guardian (UK) did essays on how Eminem was a poet after Stan came out & Record Collector exploring the music and the inteligence/genius behind his layers of personas i.e Slim Shady/Eminem/Marshall Mathers with referances/comparisoms to Bowie/Kurt & Richie Edwards.

  139. I 100% agree that Em is legendary with every fiber of my being, however, if you appreciate Eminem, then you have to appreciate Tupac just as much. He is also a lyrical genius, he also shocked everyone with his lyrics and attitude, he is a true poet and writer in every sense. Biggie is also a great writer, and his movie notorious is up there with 8 mile in my mind. It bothers me so much when people don’t like Eminem and Tupac because of their language, when they refuse to really LISTEN. Some people are so narrow minded. He says it best

    “Sometimes I just feel like my father, I hate to be bothered
    With all of this nonsense it’s constant
    And “oh it’s just lyrical content!”
    The song “Guilty Conscience” has gotten such rotten responses
    And all of this controversy circles me
    And it seems like the media immediately points a finger at me
    So I point one back at ’em
    But not the index or the pinky or the ring or the thumb
    It’s the one you put up when you don’t give a fuck
    When you won’t just put up with the bullshit they pull
    Cause they full of shit too
    When a dude’s gettin bullied and shoots up your school
    And they blame it on Marilyn – and the heroin
    Where were the parents at?
    And look at where it’s at middle America
    Now it’s a tragedy
    Now it’s so sad to see
    An upper class city having this happening
    Then attack Eminem cause I rap this way
    But I’m glad cause they feed me the fuel
    That I need for the fire to burn and it’s burnin’ and I have returned”

  140. Great post & love the use of Eminem in marketing. I think #3 is one of the most often under-utilized — tell a good story. Finding a way to infuse a story into your message will draw people in and build a relationship. Good stuff!

  141. Nice post! I think another element that lends itself to marketing that I think of when I observe Eminem is that his authenticity shows through in his message. When engaging customers, they can also tell when you’re being authentic or when you’re just trying to pull something past them.

  142. I really enjoyed this post, Sean.

    Though this was specific to looking at the lessons behind Mr Mathers’ success, it’s also a great example of how we can learn really useful lessons, from outside out own industry or profession.

    One of the key take-aways for me, which I often write about myself, is the need to embrace polarizing people with your message. If we want to be directly relevant to our ideal profile of reader / client, we need to get focused and deliver what THEY need, rather then being all things to all people.

    For those who like Eminem, he’s on point. For those who prefer a different flavor of rap, he sucks. If he tried to appeal to both groups, he’d probably have failed to be relevant to anyone.

  143. Fantastic post. Eminem is a one-of-a-kind artist for sure and I love the lessons on marketing you drew from him. When I first heard him I didn’t really like him, but for the reasons you pointed out I grew to at least respect him. The same would be true for marketing with the same methods.

  144. In the early 1980s, I was a white kid in a black university, so my rap is old school. The gangsta scene disgusted me, so I moved on to other music. It’s hard to find a genre I don’t like, if it’s done with heart and intelligence.

    Skip ahead to this century, when I was teaching English at universities in China. One of my wife’s students turned me onto Eminem, and I made “Lose Yourself” an integral part of one lesson per semester per class. I explained it for 45 minutes, and then I rapped. I was once joined by a class of 20 students (with lyric sheets) and that just blew my mind.

    Yep, we can learn a lot from this young man.

  145. I have to say, I’ve always been a fan of Eminem but I never really thought of his music in this way so you really opened my eyes!! This post just goes to show you, you never know who you can learn from and where you’ll find your next inspiration! I’ll never look at Eminem the same! Thanks for the great insights!!

  146. Eminem is brilliant. At first you might think he is just another rapper cursing his way through the lyrics. But if you listen closely, it’s quite obvious that there’s a lot of effort involved in all his songs. Using Eminem for this article is perfect. Good job.

  147. You should have been a schoolteacher – If any of my teachers would have been as inventive as you I would be a doctor by now 🙂

  148. Like everyone else, I formed my opinion before i even heard the songs by Eminem. After this post , I m going to learn to be less judgmental. Great post!

  149. Just when you think you read just about every writing tips article on the web. . . .

    This article is phenomenal, and I can find myself re-reading this over and over, just by the way you eloquently put it.

    This is the epitome of thinking outside the box, and I’m sure Eminem himself would be impressed by this summarization and comparison to writing.

    Excellent post, very helpful, and will be re-reading this at times of doubt and writers block.

    • Interesting about Jay-Z jason.

      I am going to head over and read this. I was not aware of that connection, and I was curious about it.

  150. First off, I love your wife’s retort:

    “You know if you listen to the album you’ll be a lot more entitled to an opinion, right?”

    Amazing articulation.

    That was an awesome article. The only part in question, for me, is…was he a natural marketer? Or was his passion, and drive to get on the other side of the 8 mile, coupled with his wearing his heart on his sleeve, hanging his guts out what got him known?

    I have always said that Tupac’s spirit infused him (if he is dead lol), for I have listened to rap for 20 years, and Eminem is the first to plant me in my seat with amazement, since Tupac.

    I really enjoyed your neutrally opinionated essence, of pointing at certain speculation, and pointing his aspects as a good marketer, while not taking sides.

    I feel one of his strengths is simply how real and raw he is, in the sense of how most of us interact only within out tight groups of friends, and part of us all are impressed how he publicly expressed the raw lack of tact in front of everyone.

    I also appreciate his non-effort into hyper self ego promotion, that I lot of rappers do, which can work sometimes, but often is kind of a turn off for me. That aspect reminds me also of Tupac, where I would say, ‘they are the real deal’.

    I have always enjoyed gangster rap, where that is often the essence, but I have really come to appreciate an artist, such as Eminem and Tupac, who can rather just tell it how it is, and maintain that superhero rapper status.

    I was introduced to him by some black/African American (I can’t remember which of those is politically correct) friends of mine, some of whom are rappers themselves. At the first sound, on a quiet radio, I thought they had to be joking. Then they said to me, ‘he’s a white boy’, to which I almost fell over.

    His annoying voice didn’t seduce me one bit, and I did not go out and buy his record. Simultaneously, repetition has it’s ways, and they would enthusiastically play him all the time, and one day I heard a few lines, as they insisted I listen to his lyrics.

    I was pretty blown away, and I think you articulated it better than I could Sean, when you said “Though I’ve always been drawn to great lyricists and songwriters, I’d never heard anyone able to effectively indulge satire, rage, sorrow, shame, guilt, regret, power, passion, loneliness, bravado, stupidity, genius, leadership, idiocy, misogyny, sympathy and, believe it or not, tender compassion. And Eminem was doing it in a stream of pentameter that would, I’m certain, cause William Shakespeare to shudder.”

    I must say, I have never thought of him past his ability as one of the best rappers out there, and I found this an enlightening read.



    • Hey Martin,

      Just wanted to drop in and say I really loved your comment. 🙂

      I think Marshall is a natural marketer, yes. He may not even know it, but many of the stuff he does with instinct would make some of the best marketers in the world smile.

      And now, with many years behind him, I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.

      • Thank you Sean,

        I certainly can’t argue, I love pondering what ingredients composed someone like Eminem. And he sure does know what he is doing now.

        He masterfully went with the expected scrutiny of anyone in that stature, and was, as Bruce Lee says, ‘formless like water’.

        • It’s crazy, but the dude really has inspired my writing in many ways.

          I have a book of children’s rhymes coming out later this month. Extremely musical language. Despite them being written for children, Em is, by far, the biggest influence on the writing.

          His articulation is on another level. He may never hit those heights again, but he’s still inspired me to do things with rhythm that I never would’ve done otherwise. And for that I’m thankful.

  151. That is amazing.

    ‘ I love how his depth, on so many levels, could inspire a writer of your caliber.

    If the kids catch wind of your influence, that will shoot your ‘cool factor’ through the roof. 🙂

    To your explosive success in that venture and any you pursue.

    • Thanks Martin.

      I’ve only been writing for 4 years, so when I first started decoding his wall of verbiage, it didn’t influence anything directly. But it was brewing. And when I first started to write, my wife and I owned a preschool, so I would write children’s rhymes for our students. It was the patterns in his music that drove the style.

      I would put him in the dedication if it weren’t the worst idea ever!

  152. It’s amazing how you as a write are inspired by Eminem.

    You’re wife is right about you not being able to have an actual opinion until you hear his music.

    Although most of Eminem’s music is vile, what he speaks is the truth of his life. And what he’s been through. It’s not just a jumble of lyrics in a song to make people mad, or just to freak out. He just is a lyrical genius.

  153. Wow. Just wow. It’s always good to look at people who are masters of their field and see how they got to that point. I can’t stand Eminem’s subject matter, but I’ve always recognized his talent as both an artist and a businessman. You’ve taken the things that’ve made him successful and broken them down so anyone can use them to achieve goals. Great post!

  154. God. I’m so disappointed. Really really disappointed.
    You want to know why?
    I had JUST sat down to write that very article! (maybe not quite the same flavour, I mean ‘flava dawg!’, but still….). I watched a compelling docu with the Sexy Rebel himself and was astounded that anyone can rhyme the word ‘orange’. But Mr Mathers didn’t just rhyme it once, he rhymed it about 10 times!

    I had been meaning to write this article about Eminem’s word prowess for months, his talent with both words and marketing had been on the tip of my tongue, but I’ve missed the boat.

    Ah well, I’ll just have to take your advice and add this link to my blog’s new “My 10 favorite blog posts”!

  155. I want to put my views in as a fellow white rapper Eminem’s first appeals are obvious. The reasons he is one of our biggest cultural icons have more to do with his image and genius. His beats are sparing/minimalistic so we can keep focus on his complex rhyme patterns. His lyrics are in very specific poetic type bars but most people are only caught up in his off the wall content. He makes use of every feeling he can give us angry, disgusted, humorous… and the image he portrays stands bigger than others. Most of us know his backstory, his feelings toward his mother, babys mother, father. Although his music is changing his main points were the same. He had a great vision and i think its the music business that is still holding him back.

  156. Hi all,
    My name is Mitch and I am 16 years old.
    I live in Holland.

    I listen 24/7 to Eminem.

    A friend and I making songs and making beats with programs and think we can do it.
    We are 16 years old and want to become famous in the rap world.
    So we starting with making music like 2 weeks ago.
    We know, becoming famous isn’t just easy but we don’t give up because, we know that we can make it.
    Our dream is when we making a video with our music ( Own song and beats ) eminem see the video and thinks: They can rap! Only 16 years old and so good!
    We need to send them a message with ” Hi guys, I saw the video and it’s very nice. I hope we can met us in real”.
    Dre supported Eminem.
    I hope Eminem support us!

    When the song is on youtube,
    I put the link here on the site.

    We don’t give up if we know we can it!

  157. There are many truths in this post but what struck me was Sean’s ability to clearly state why Eminem is such a great writer through clearly defined and repeatable points.

    The second half highlights how I can apply the same techniques to my field and was of great value.

    Thanks for the share!

  158. Most certainly Eminem is an inspiration, but as of late Sean has been an inspiration. My most popular blog post is 10 things Star Trek taught me about writing, and I’m going to post something soon about what Bill Walsh taught me about writing.

    Here’s a free bonus. What did Shakespeare teach me about writing? Hit your mark and move on.

    Eminem remains awesome. Keep it real.

  159. “One of the things that makes Eminem so polarizing is that his message flies from mind to mic with only the thinnest filter in between”<—that’s it, I would say. This encompasses everything else you need to be doing. Doing this, you’ll naturally be concise, and use powerful sentences; since you’re telling what you’re passionate about.
    “Be extreme”<—I would say, be exactly yourself (which is, by definition, extreme).
    “Tell a story”- which also comes naturally when you’re just telling the truth (you tell your story).

  160. I love him. I love the talent this man has. Love his music. I am a 40 year old mother of 3 and I am not a fan of rap. However, I cannot deny the gift this man has. I run 5 miles everyday and half my playlist is Eminem. Some of his songs are a bit ” over the top”, but his newest album ‘Recovery’ is just as strong and a lot less violent.

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