Why Eminem Is His Own Toughest Critic (Video)

After great anticipation, Eminem began his Revival yesterday (November 10). “Walk On Water” is a single with a fitting title. Until the song released, no one knew that Beyoncé would be on the track, or that its production would be unlike anything Marshall Mathers ever rocked from Dr. Dre, the Bass Brothers, or Alex da Kid. For Rap fans, few could have predicted that the subject matter would not be Eminem demonstrating microphone miracles, but rather showing that he’s experiencing very human doubt.

In this week’s TBD, Justin “The Company Man” Hunte looks closely at “Walk On Water” while analyzing where it fits in Eminem’s career and catalog. “If the last time we saw Em’ in album-mode he was beginning to feel like a ‘Rap God,’ on ‘Walk On Water,’ he sounds like he’s settled for a dream deferred. Check this out. The second verse ends with: “Kids look to me as a god, this is retarded / If only they knew, it’s a facade and it’s exhaustive / And I try to not listen to nonsense / But if you b*tches are trying to strip me of my confidence / Mission accomplished / I’m not God-sent / Nas, Rakim, Pac, B.I.G., James Todd Smith, and I’m not Prince.

Following rumors that Eminem donned a gold chain given to him by LL Cool J during his show-stopping 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards cypher, Marshall is not making a case for why he’s a G.O.A.T., when he seemingly sees himself as an “old goat.”

Cursed by “the standard the first Marshall Mathers disc set,” Eminem seemingly can never measure up. Ambrosia For Heads‘ readers certainly offered a litany of takes on the song in the last 24 hours, and many were disappointed or highly critical. Fans wanted Eminem and Royce 5’9 to make the Bad Meets Evil album that the ’90s deprived us. They did. Fans want to hear Em’, Black Thought, and Mos Def go all in a cypher. It happens. People want more Dre production, and especially on Relapse, they got it.

Big Daddy Kane has not released a project in nearly 20 years, and this may be why. Eminem clearly questions if the new music tarnishes his old legacy. He’s used sequels and gone back to the book of fun-poking first singles in recent years. However, “Walk On Water” is Eminem baptizing himself in a completely new sound and balance of intimacy and vulnerability.

It may be impossible for Eminem to please his whole fan-base in 2017. In the gap between The Slim Shady LP and The Eminem Show, it seemed so easy. Less than two years removed from Soundbombing 2 and Cali Kings tape freestyles, Em’s career movements filled the pages of all music mags, dominated MTV, radio, and still had Heads behind him. A lyrical MC who wrote songs with incredible narrative, and he rose to the top of Pop music. “Walk On Water” dominated the discussion and almost instantly appeared on Top 40 yesterday, and Eminem does not seem satisfied.

“Walk On Water” may not be the sound or the style of rapping that core Em’ fans all seem to want. But one of the greatest MCs Hip-Hop has even witnessed seemingly is set on legacy, and earning back that excitement. Sure, it may take a miracle in the eyes of some, but the Revival has just begun.