Song of the Day #3,581: ‘The Way I Am’ – Eminem

My #4 album of 2000 is a record I still consider Eminem’s best: The Marshall Mathers LP. The celebrated rapper has put out a number of great albums since this one (including The Eminem Show and the Marshall Mathers sequel) but this record’s culture-shattering impact gives it the edge.

Through today’s lens this album seems almost tame but at the time it ignited a firestorm of controversy over free speech and satire. Second Lady Lynne Cheney lambasted the album and called on the music industry to adopt age restrictions. The controversy just helped propel the album to a then-record 1.76 millions sales in its first week alone.

The Marshall Mathers LP is full of wicked rhymes and sick beats but it is best known for ‘Stan,’ still one of the finest rap songs ever recorded. The creepily cinematic track dramatizes an exchange of letters between Eminem and a deranged fan, culminating in a murder that mirrors the events of an earlier song.

‘Stan’ made it clear that Eminem was very much aware of the debate over his influence on young listeners, and that he was able to turn that conversation into resonant art. At that year’s Grammys, he memorably performed the song with Elton John singing the Dido sample. Then he lost Album of the Year to Steely Dan, demonstrating how out of touch the Grammys were at the time (and remain still, unfortunately).

[Intro]
Man, whatever
Dre, just let it run
Ayo, turn the beat up a little bit
Ayo, this song is for anyone
Fuck it, just shut up and listen, ayo

[Verse 1]
I sit back with this pack of Zig-Zag’s and this bag
Of this weed, it gives me the shit needed to be
The most meanest MC on this—on this Earth
And since birth I’ve been cursed with this curse to just curse
And just blurt this berserk and bizarre shit that works
And it sells and it helps in itself to relieve all this tension
Dispensing these sentences, getting this stress
That’s been eating me recently off of this chest
And I rest again peacefully
But at least have the decency in you
To leave me alone, when you freaks see me out
In the streets when I’m eating or feeding my daughter
To not come and speak to me, I don’t know you
And no, I don’t owe you a mothafuckin’ thing
I’m not Mr. N’Sync, I’m not what your friends think
I’m not Mr. Friendly, I can be a prick if you tempt me
My tank is on empty, no patience is in me
And if you offend me, I’m lifting you ten feet in the air
I don’t care who was there and who saw me just jaw you
Go call you a lawyer, file you a lawsuit
I’ll smile in the courtroom and buy you a wardrobe
I’m tired of all you, I don’t mean to be mean
But that’s all I can be, it’s just me

[Hook]
And I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am
Radio won’t even play my jam
‘Cause I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am
I don’t know, it’s just the way I am

[Verse 2]
Sometimes I just feel like my father
I hate to be bothered with all of this nonsense
It’s constant, and, “Oh, it’s his 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 pinkie
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 getting bullied and shoots up his school
And they blame it on Marilyn and the heroin
Where were the parents at? And look where it’s at!
Middle America, now it’s a tragedy
Now it’s so sad to see, an upper-class city havin’ 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 burning, and I have returned

[Hook]
And I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am
Radio won’t even play my jam
‘Cause I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am
I don’t know, it’s just the way I am

[Verse 3]
I’m so sick and tired of being admired
That I wish that I would just die or get fired
And dropped from my label, let’s stop with the fables
I’m not gonna be able to top on “My Name Is”
And pigeon-holed into some poppy sensation
To cop me rotation at rock-n-roll stations
And I just do not got the patience
To deal with these cocky Caucasians
Who think I’m some wigger who just tries to be black
‘Cause I talk with an accent and grab on my balls
So they always keep asking the same fucking questions
What school did I go to, what hood I grew up in
The why, the who, what, when, the where and the how
‘Til I’m grabbing my hair and I’m tearin’ it out
‘Cause they driving me crazy, I can’t take it
I’m racin’, I’m pacin’, I stand and I sit
And I’m thankful for every fan that I get
But I can’t take a shit
In the bathroom without someone standing by it
No, I won’t sign you an autograph
You can call me an asshole, I’m glad

[Hook]
‘Cause I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am
Radio won’t even play my jam
‘Cause I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news, every day I am
I don’t know, it’s just the way I am

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One thought on “Song of the Day #3,581: ‘The Way I Am’ – Eminem

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I haven’t played this album for years, but it really is flat out brilliant and great. Failing to give the album the Grammy was definitely one of the biggest whiffs in music and cultural history, but it added more fuel to Eminem’s underdog status for future albums, even though he really was on top of the world.

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