Song of the Day #1,993: ‘Bad Guy’ – Eminem

marshall_mathers_lp_2Best Songs of 2013 – #3

I apologize for the scheduling quirk that landed Eminem on Christmas Day. Not exactly the most festive choice, I know. Merry Christmas, everyone!

I had high hopes but medium expectations for The Marshall Mathers LP 2 after hearing the first few singles. But Eminem erased all doubts seven minutes into the record with this extraordinary opening track.

‘Bad Guy’ is the rare song that plays like a work of dramatic fiction. It is designed to lead you one place before lifting the veil and taking you somewhere else entirely.

The first time I heard this song, I assumed the opening verse was Eminem ranting about a woman who had scorned him. It felt like an odd way to start the sequel to his most controversial and acclaimed album.

The second verse confused matters, with references to a broken family and the loss of a loved one. It didn’t feel like a lover’s lament anymore.

Midway through the third verse, I finally understood. The first overt hint is the reference to a Broncos cap, right before Eminem launches into the same drunken loose cannon vocal style he used on ‘Stan’ all those years ago.

That’s when it finally hit me that I was listening to Stan’s younger brother Matthew, a worshipful little kid in the first song, all grown up and taking revenge on the selfish superstar he blames for his brother’s death.

And as he drives the car over a bridge (with Eminem in the trunk), just as his older brother did, the song shifts gears again into a God’s eye view where Eminem tears into all of the hypocrisies and insecurities that have fueled him throughout his career. This is some of his most passionate and emotional rapping to date.

And that’s just track one.

[Verse 1]
It’s like I’m in this dirt, digging up old hurt
Tried everything to get my mind off you, it won’t work
All it takes is one song on the radio you’re
Right back on it reminding me all over again
How you fucking just brushed me off and left me so burnt
Spent a lot of time trying to soul search
Maybe I needed to grow up a little first, well, looks like I hit a growth spurt
But I’m coming for closure
Don’t suppose an explanation I’m owed for
The way that you turned your back on me just when I may have needed you most, oh, you thought it was over?
You could just close the
Chapter and go about your life, like it was nothing
You ruined mine, but you seem to be doing fine, well I’ve never recovered
But tonight I betcha that what you’re
‘Bout to go through’s tougher than anything I ever have suffered
Can’t think of a better way to define poetic justice
Can I hold grudges, mind saying, “Let it go, fuck this”
Heart’s saying: “I will, once I bury this bitch alive, hide the shovel and then drive off in the sunset”

[Hook: Sarah Jaffe]
I flee the scene like it was my last ride
You see right through, oh you had me pegged the first time
You can see the truth but it’s easier to justify
What’s bad is good
And I hate to be the bad guy
I just hate to be the bad guy
(Follow me I run, I run, follow me, follow me)
I just hate to be the bad guy

[Verse 2]
And to think, I used to think you was the shit, bitch
To think it was you at one time I worshiped, shit
Think you can hurt people and just keep getting away with it
Not this time, you better go and get the sewing kit, bitch
Finish this stitch so you can reap what you sew, knit wit
Thought some time would pass and I’d forget it? Forget it
You left our family in shambles
And you expect me to just get over him, pretend he never existed?
May be gone, but he’s not forgotten
And don’t think cause he’s been out the picture
So long that I’ve stopped the plotting and still ain’t coming to getcha
You’re wrong and that shit was rotten
And the way you played him, same shit you did to
Me, cold, have you any idea the
Shit that I’ve gone through?
Feelings I harbor, all this pent up resentment I hold on to
Not once you call to ask me how I’m doing
Letters, you don’t respond to ’em
Fuck it, I’m coming to see you
And gee who better to talk to than you, the cause of my problems
My life is garbage and I’m ’bout to take it out on you
Poof, then I’m gone, voosh

[Hook]

[Verse 3]
I’ve been driving around your side of this town
Like nine frickin’ hours and forty-five minutes now
Finally I found your new address, park in your drive
Feel like I’ve been waiting on this moment all of my life
And it’s now arrived, and my mouth is full of saliva
My knife is out and I’m ducking on the side of your house
See, it’s sad it came to this point
Such a disappointment I had to make this appointment to come and see ya
But I ain’t here for your empathy
I don’t need your apology, or your friendship or sympathy
It’s revenge that I seek
So I sneak vengefully and treat your bedroom window
Like I reach my full potential, I peeked
Continue to peep, still bent low, then keep
Tapping the glass lightly then start to crescendo, sneak
All the way ’round to the back porch, man
Door handles unlocked
Shouldn’t be that easy to do this
You don’t plan for intruders beforehand
Surprised to see me? Cat got your tongue?
Gag, chloroform rag
Dag, almost hack-up a lung, like you picked an axe up and swung, stick to the core plan
Dragged to the back of a trunk by one of your fans
Irony’s spectacular, huh?
Now who’s a faggot, you punk
And here’s your Bronco hat; you can have that shit back cause they suck
It’s just me, you and the music now, Slim, I hope you hear it
We are in a car right now, wait, here comes my favorite lyric
“I’m the bad guy who makes fun of people that die”
And hey, here’s a sequel to my Mathers LP just to try to get people to buy
How’s this for publicity stunt, this should be fun
Last album now, cause after this you’ll be officially done
Eminem killed by M and M, Matthew Mitchell
Bitch, I even have your initials
I initially was gonna bury you next to my brother but fuck it
Since you’re in love with your city so much
I figured, what the fuck the best place you could be buried alive is right here
Two more exits, time is quite near
Hope we don’t get stopped, no license I fear
That sirens I hear
Guess 90 on the freeway wasn’t the brightest idea
As cops appear in my driver’s side mirror
(Oh, God, police aaaghh)
Hope Foxtrot gets an aerial shot of your burial plot, at least
New plan Stan, Slim “chauvinist pig drove in this big
Lincoln Town Car” Well gotta go, almost at the bridge
Ha ha big bro it’s for you, Slim, this is for him
And Frank Ocean; oh, hope you can swim good
Now say you hate homos again

[Verse 4]
I also represent anyone on the receiving end of those jokes you offend
I’m the nightmare you fell asleep and then woke up still in
I’m your karma closing in with each stroke of a pen
Perfect time to have some remorse to show for your sin
Nope, it’s hopeless, I’m the denial that you’re hopelessly in
When they say all of this is approaching its end
But you refuse to believe that it’s over, here we go all over again
Back’s to the wall, I’m stacking up all them odds
Toilets clogged, yeah cause I’m talking a lot of shit but I’m backing it all up
But in my head there’s a voice in the back and it hollers after the track is demolished
I am your lack of a conscience
I’m the ringing in your ears, I’m the polyps on the back of your tonsils
Eating your vocal chords after your concerts
I’m your time that’s almost up that you haven’t acknowledged
Grab for some water but I’m that pill that’s too jagged to swallow
I’m the bullies you hate, that you became with every faggot you slaughtered
Coming back on you, every woman you insult, batter
But the double-standards you have when it comes to your daughters
I represent everything, you take for granted
‘Cause Marshall Mathers the rapper’s persona’s half a facade
And Matthew and Stan’s just symbolic
Of you not knowing what you had ’till it’s gone
‘Cause after all the glitz and the glam
No more fans that are calling your name, cameras are off
Sad, but it happens to all of them
I’m the hindsight to say, “I told you so”
Foreshadows of all the things that are to follow
I’m the future that’s here to show you what happens tomorrow
If you don’t stop after they call ya
Biggest laughing stock of rap who can’t call it quits
When it’s time to walk away, I’m every guilt trip
The baggage you have, but as you gather up all your
Possessions, if there’s anything you have left to say, unless it makes an impact, then don’t bother
So ‘fore you rest your case, better make sure you’re packing a wallop
So one last time, I’m back, before it fades into black and it’s all
Over, behold the final chapter in a saga
Trying to recapture that lightning trapped in a bottle
Twice, the magic that started
It all, tragic portrait of an artist tortured trapped in his own drawings
Tap into thoughts blacker and darker
Than anything imaginable, here goes a wild stab in the dark, uh
As we pick up where the last Mathers left off

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,993: ‘Bad Guy’ – Eminem

  1. Dana says:

    Well, merry Christmas to you too!

    I was waiting for Eminem’s appearance on your countdown and wondering which track you would choose, While there are a number of great tracks on this album, hard to argue with your selection here. I too did not figure out the Stan connection immediately, and I’m not sure I got who all the narrators were until today. Definitely a meaty thought provoking song, which is Eminem at his best. Glad to see him back on top of his game.

  2. pegclifton says:

    I love those jin gle bells! Merry Christmas!

  3. Amy says:

    I waited until the day after Christmas to take on this lyric 😉 I just now read the whole thing without listening to it, as I wanted to try to get a handle on how the narrative unfolds. What struck me immediately is just how MUCH a rap artist writes. There are lyrics enough here for another songwriter’s entire album.

    The verse that most intrigues me is the last one, though I interpret it as Eminem himself speaking about this new album. He is speaking for both the bully and the bullied, though worried that doing so alone isn’t going to bring him redemption. Still, the last lines of the song indicate that he is hopeful – though anxious – that this album might capture the ‘lightning in a bottle” that was his first album.

    I don’t know – that’s what I’m getting. He’s beyond intriguing, no doubt about that.

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