[Editor’s Note: In his column Serrano Time, award-winning writer and goofball Shea Serrano writes about his life and times.]
Song: Eminem’s “The Monster,” featuring Rihanna
History: Eminem did a freestyle battle. He went up against Papa Doc and choked. It was pretty sad. Then some more sad stuff happened to him. But then he did another freestyle battle and, if you can even believe it, he ended up going against Papa Doc again and THIS TIME HE WON BY MAKING PAPA DOC CHOKE. That’s a little thing called true justice. After that, Rihanna was like, “Oh my God this dude has mad skills. I need to do a song with him.” So they did some pretty good songs together. And then they made “The Monster.”
See also: Katy Perry’s “Roar”: Why This Song Sucks
Atmospherics: Kind of like what the teen section at Nordstrom sounds like. Except teens don’t shop at Nordstrom so it’s always, like, someone’s uncle buying jeans from there. That’s what this song sounds like: Someone’s uncle trying to buy cool jeans from Nordstrom.
Analysis: Snoozefest. I wish there was a more nuanced, more clever way to say that, but every time I try to think of one my brain jumps clean out of skull and sprints right down the street. That’s not a metaphor or anything. My brain literally grew these tentacle-like things and it was splitskis, bro. It’s like Krang from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Remember him? He was the grossest. HE WAS A LIVING, BREATHING BRAIN LIVING INSIDE OF A ROBOT. Gone.
On 1999’s “My Name Is,” Eminem’s very first single from his very first proper album, back when he was still interesting and had not been hollowed out yet:
Do you like violence?
Wanna see me stick nine inch nails through each one of my eyelids?
Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did?
Try ‘cid and get fucked up worse than my life is?
That’s clever and fun and acerbic and biting and insightful. I can’t immediately think of a better opening salvo from a modern American musician.
Here’s how Eminem opens 2013’s “The Monster,” the 93rd single from his 25th album:
I wanted the fame but not the cover of Newsweek
Oh well, guess beggars can’t be choosey
1. Newsweek? Bro, that’s the most boring shit of all. Remember when Newsweek put Sarah Palin on the cover in jogging shorts? That was them being divisive. Newsweek is like when they show that movie Nerds on AMC and then AMC zooms all the way in so you can’t see any boobs during the panty raid scene.
2. Did you really just say “Oh well,” Eminem? In the first verse of a song called “The Monster”? Because, I mean, there just aren’t enough sighs.
3. Did you use the word “choosey,” rather than “choosers”? Because everyone knows the expression is “beggars can’t be choosers.” You can’t just make up a new expression to rhyme with Newsweek, which you shouldn’t even be talking about in the first place.
I’m beginning to lose sleep
One sheep, two sheep
Someone heard Eminem rap this line in a studio session and was like: “Yep, that’s the one. I was a little leery when you dropped the ‘one sheep’ on them, but when you followed that up with ‘two sheep,’ that’s when I was certain you were a goddamn genius, Em!”
Call me crazy but I have this vision one day that I’ll walk amongst you a civilian
Nah, bro. Not that crazy. You’re already rapping like one. OOOOOHHHHHHH BURN.
I miss when Eminem was the dopest. He’s probably gone downhill because he was in that Adam Sandler movie.
He yodeled. Just like Tupac used to.
Maybe I need a straight jacket; face facts
I am nuts for real but I’m OK with that
Dude, you’re not nuts. You’re famous. It’s not that bad. Sorry all of your money doesn’t fit inside your solid diamond wallet.
Oh, and here’s how I feel about Rihanna on the hook.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 11, 2013