I don't buy rap. Not generally. I'm not comfortable with the casual misogyny, the glorification of violence and the apparent lack of connection to the inner self. Perhaps it's just rap-lite that I prefer; the more familiar, less dangerous world of Run-DMC or De La Soul for example.
But for one reason or another, I sat myself down and listened to this song, looked up the lyrics (because ironically, rap is chiefly about the lyric) and was properly stunned. I've never quite understood why so many people, musicians included, have expressed such respect for Eminem's work, but now I do.
What amazes me first and foremost is how complicated and yet how simple the rhythm of the words is. It slinks, weaves and pole-dances around the beat, sometimes falling half a beat behind, but gathering itself in time for the payoff.
What grabs me second is the sheer power of the vocabulary. Like a lot of middle-class white guys, I have looked down on rap in general as a genre that struggles to express itself. Perhaps it does....on my terms. But on its own terms, it says a shedload.
The lines come one after the other, falling over each other in their rush to get out. And if you try to understand the lyric through just reading it, you won't get it. You have to hear this, to wonder at the rhythm, the cadence, the sheer weight of the emotion, the way the words mould themselves to Eminem's accent and rhyme in a way you can't see on the page.