Walk on Water: Uncovering Eminem's Message
Often times an artist creates a song in hopes that their fans can relate and feel a sense of escape through the lyrics. Seldom do artists write songs with the intention to vent and form a getaway for themselves without their fans' interests and opinions in mind. The song "Walk on Water" by Eminem featuring Beyoncé does exactly that. In the song, Eminem exposes the fragility of glorified, thought to be "immortal," superstars and confronts the "God-like" platforms their remorseless fans place them on. From the strategic use of the chorus, sound of pencil scribbling and crumbling papers, to clever word play, Eminem unmasks the industry and its fans as insisting bullies and judgmental critics.
In the beginning of the song, Eminem shines light on how he sees himself to be perfectly flawed. In the entertainment industry many superstars and famous individuals are perceived and held to the status of God-like figures. With this idea in mind, people ignore the idea that superstars are humans and have insecurities just like themselves. Beyoncé sings the chorus, "I walk on water, but I ain't no Jesus. I walk on water, but only when it freezes"(Rubin, Beyoncé, Grey). In the chorus, Eminem acknowledges the powerful saying of "walking on water" in aims to bring attention to the fact that he is in no comparison to God. He adds this line "but only when it freezes" to the chorus to show that he would only able to walk on water if it was frozen, just like anybody else (Rubin, Beyoncé, Grey). By incorporating this strategic chorus, he exemplifies how famous individuals are still human, with limits and doubts just as any other person.
Eminem integrates musical instruments and sound effects not only to add to the tone of the song, but to stress the frustration he has in attempts to satisfy pressuring fans. The song features in detail the sound effects of pencil scribbling, paper crumbling, and the tearing of papers. While he fiercely recites his verses in the song, the sound effects allow you to visualize him angrily being dissatisfied with what he's writing. These sounds show that he feels as though he is not good enough as he looks for others approval. This is exemplified by the line "The rhyme has to be perfect, the delivery flawless"(Rubin, Beyoncé, Grey).
Eminem shows that a countless number of superstars feel an immense amount of pressure to satisfy their fans. Many times, while creating these songs and images they feel as though they're battling internally with themselves to live up to who their fans think they are and not actually who they truly are; in this case the battle is Eminem vs Marshall Mathers. Take the following line: "Kids look to me as a God, this is retarded. If only they knew, it’s a facade and it's exhaustive"(Rubin, Beyoncé, Grey). Here Eminem is explaining his fans have created from him, a God, which he is not, but he exhaustively puts on that persona in order to please his fans instead of revealing his true self and just simply being Marshall Mathers.
Eminem had an agonizing past before he developed into the artist that he is today. In response to his dark past he became addicted to pain pills and medication. During this stage of his life he was at the peak of his career despite his heavy addiction. Eminem elaborates on this idea when he raps
"Why are expectations so high? Is it the bar I set?"(Robin, Beyoncé, Grey). In this line the bar is referring to the time in which he was in his prime as an artist, selling out shows and records under his stage name "Slim Shady". Giving a bit more insight on his past Eminem punningly adds, "Knowin' that no matter what bars I come with. You're gonna harp, gripe, and that's a hard Vicodin to swallow"(Robin, Beyoncé, Grey). Outside of the lines' evident meaning being that no matter what rhymes and songs he puts out he will always receive judgment and disproval from his fans, he makes another reference to his past. According to Narconon, "Vicodin is an opiate painkiller with highly addictive properties"(Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse). Vicodin symbolizes Eminem's dark past and old persona, which he feels his fans are pressuring him to "swallow" because that is the period in which they lauded his music and accepted him as an artist. He is not the "Eminem" everyone wants him to be, but rather a more mature and truthful version. As it may seem, Eminem has created an alter ego, Slim Shady vs Eminem, ultimately making himself his own worst enemy. He further cites "And it always feels like I’m hittin' the mark 'Til I go sit in the car, listen and pick it apart. Like, 'This shit is garbage!'"(Robin, Beyoncé, Grey). The pressure he's received from his fans through his journey in the music industry has lead him to be discontent with himself and his career as a rapper.
When listening to this immaculate hit you may not grasp it's true meaning or uncover its complete motives. The song depicts Eminem's travel through the monstrous and unapologetic music world. He enters a reflective state as he attacks the hypocritical and oppressive manners of his fan-base. Eminem intelligently integrates a cunning chorus, various distinctive sound effects, and enticing verbiage in order to amplify his objective to create "Walk on Water." Not only does Eminem create an outlet for himself through the lyrics, but he shines light on the challenges musical artist and famous individuals encounter when putting their fans before themselves. Although Eminem presents another side of himself in this song, he does so while still bring together a prodigious and exceptional record.
“Eminem (Ft. Beyoncé) – Walk on Water.” Genius, 10 Nov. 2017, genius.com/Eminem-walk- on-water-lyrics.
“Effects of Vicodin Abuse.” Narconon International, www.narconon.org/drug-abuse/effects-of- vicodin.html.