Disclaimer: I am a stan. I was put onto rap music when I first heard “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, and I very rarely dislike anything Slim Shady puts out. However, I’m going to remain as unbiased as possible on this topic because I think it’s important.
Yes, I realize not everyone is an Eminem fan. I realize even some Eminem fans want that old school, crazy ass Slim Shady from the original “Marshall Mathers LP.” I imagine some fans just want bars; maybe some would appreciate more banging beats and crisper production.
This is where I have to stand up and defend “Walk On Water” because I think the criticism correlates into something on a bigger scale. The same people who criticize this song are probably the same ones who like artists who glorify drug abuse and domestic violence—both of which I realize Eminem has previously touched on in his music. But it also seems like the same critics are mainly fans of Young Thug, Future, 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump and the list goes on and on. I understand and appreciate that there’s a time and place for everything. I like to listen to turn-up music when I’m getting ready to hit the bars, but I truly believe the only argument for not liking this new song, “Walk On Water,” is because it’s not trap enough or it doesn’t have a beat that will bump in the car or it doesn’t have very many catchy lines. And here’s where it comes full circle: the growth exemplified on “Walk On Water” shows how Marshall Mathers has grown past his drug-infused days when he rapped about killing his wife.
To further my point, I posed this question: have we as a hip-hop community become so enamored with chart-topping singles and dope beats and catchy hooks that we have completely lost respect for lyricism, storytelling and the essence of simplicity?
This song was completely over a Rick Rubin-produced piano beat—a true testament that you don’t absolutely need drums and heavy bass to create a successful single. (And believe me, this will be on the radio by next week.) Eminem didn’t give us any one-liners that are going to be etched into our brains forever. The man simply spoke from his heart while Beyoncé killed it on the hook.
My point is: we need to stop constantly criticizing these artists for growing as human beings. Marshall Mathers has grown up and matured before our very eyes. We loved him for saying crazy things on a song that we’d never say aloud and that pushed the envelope, but we put him down for being open and honest about him coming to terms about his legacy? It’s hypocritical as rap fans. We need to appreciate these artists as they grow as people and push the boundaries musically. Sometimes it’s hard. I’m sure there have been times when an artist that I enjoy has put something out that wasn’t as good as something they previously put out. I’m just saying we should appreciate the craft and the fact the artist is trying to further their brand as well as the genre itself.
By no means am I saying we should love everything our favorite artists put out because everything evolves and gets better with time. I just think we need to appreciate the growth.
The same thing goes for Eminem. While I loved the crazy Slim Shady from back in the day, I appreciate songs like “Walk On Water” a little more because it shows growth and it’s more relatable.
I understand not everyone has the same taste in rap music as I do and I definitely am an advocate for everybody being entitled to their opinion, but let’s appreciate these artists as they grow and continue to try new things. We may not like every piece of music they put out, but we should respect them for continually telling their story and growing as humans.