“Stepping Stone” is the 7th track on Eminem’s 2018 album ‘Kamikaze.’ The song takes the shape of a heartfelt confessional about the guilt Em has on the state D12 band is in right now. This is a complete turn away from the theme of the ‘Kamikaze’ album which has been a brutal attack on the new age mumble rappers and his haters. Songs such as “The Ringer,” “Kamikaze” and “Fall” purely focus on expressing Em’s disgust in the poor state of rap and hip-hop is in today.
Produced by Luis Resto and Eminem, “Stepping Stone” is an upbeat and fast-paced track which has a classic rap beat. The song has been written by the same duo.
The phrase ‘stepping stone’ is used to refer to the growth of a person. A stepping stone helps a person to climb up.
Listen to “Stepping Stone” by Eminem
“Stepping Stone,” in a way, is Eminem’s goodbye to the D12 group. At the initiation of the group, it consisted of Eye-Kyu, Eminem, Bizarre, Proof, Fuzz Scoota, Mr. Porter, Bugz, Kuniva, DJ Head, Dirty Ratt, B-Flat, Charging Soldier, Killa Hawk and Chaos Kid. However, after 12 years, the D12 only consists of Eminem, Bizarre, Kuniva, Swift and Mr. Porter. However, Eminem tries to say that trying to continue D12 is like “living a lie.” But Eminem feels guilty and responsible for the downfall of D12.
Eminem believes the death of Proof, who is also the founding member of D12, is the reason for the fall of the band.
Lyrics Review and Song Meaning of “Stepping Stone”
Taking somebody to the river has a biblical reference which stands to mean ‘washing away of sins.’
Eminem talks about 2002 when everything was going perfectly. Eminem had released ‘The Eminem Show’ album, which is his second best selling album, and 5th best selling rap album of all time. D12 released ‘Devil’s Night’ album in 2001, which also performed well commercially. So everybody was relaxed, enjoying the global recognition and sales.
Runyon Avenue is a street running off of ‘8 Mile Road’ in Detroit. All of the members of D12 are from Runyon Avenue where they created their music. They felt bulletproof-as if nothing could stop them from becoming the biggest in the world. This is, of course, until the untimely death of Proof. In 2006, Proof was shot dead and Eminem went on to a chronic depression out of this. ‘Doody’ was Eminem’s personal nickname for Proof, who was his best friend.
By this time Eminem was addicted to prescription pills such as Vicodin, Valium, and Methamphetamine. This did not help Em to lead the D12 band to any success. The ‘personal struggles’ Eminem mentions in “Stepping Stone” are a reference to his drug abuse. In 2007, Eminem overdosed on pills and got nearly killed. Recovering from this, Eminem has been clean for so many years. He celebrated 10 years of sobriety in April 2018.
Under the condition Em was in, he had no way of helping any artist from D12. He struggled through his own issues, hoping the members would succeed in their solo careers. But the bitter truth that Eminem knew about the group was that D12 was dead the moment Proof died.
‘oomf’ stands for ‘one of my followers, a popular slang used in social media networks.
These lyrics of “Stepping Stone” describe how Eminem wants to leave this bitter history behind him. He feels guilty for abandoning D12, where the band helped him gain recognition. Em calls being in the band gave him the ‘stepping stone’ to achieve greater heights.
It is often said that ‘be nice to people on your way up, because when you fall down, you may run into the same people.’ Eminem phrases this in the song. It is unclear if Eminem considers the post ‘Revival’ album phase as his fall.
In the second verse of “Stepping Stone,” Eminem speaks about the drifting apart of the band members after the death of Proof. Eminem pursued a rather successful solo career than any other member and he feels guilty for it. But as time passed by, it was more and more difficult to get the members together. It became more awkward, the more they did not speak.
Em gives a shout out to D12 member Bizarre’s hit single “Rockstar” from 2005. Then he goes on to say that he expected the other members to work together and succeed. Em believes the rest of the group did not need him to produce hit tracks.
However, all of this is just water under the bridge-the past. There is nothing Em or the remaining band members can do about it. But one thing Eminem is going to do is wash away his guilty conscience.
Eminem compares the good old past to the present in the third verse of “Stepping Stone.”
The group used to have a lot of good times working together and bathing in Bacardi and Hennessy. Em says the ‘climate’ or the game has changed now. The fans who used to adore them are no longer there. They used to make money fall like raining cats and dogs. Now it’s only tiny drips. Em could also be referring to the “Lil” class of rappers who have gained popularity in the industry now.
Em wonders if his recent downfall is karma for abandoning the D12 members, especially Bizarre, Kuniva and Swift. But he tries to think of all the artists he has helped over the years like 50 Cent and Royce da 5’9″.
In the next lines, Eminem publicly apologizes from all the members of D12 for not being a leader when the group needed one. He does not believe he had the right or the responsibility. But still, he feels guilty considering that his solo career has been the biggest ever and ‘by the end of their reign, nobody will even miss them.’
A clever wordplay next. Em says he is ‘fighting for air’ which resembles struggling for airtime or radio time. Next line he follows up by saying he is barely on any charts now. His singles from ‘Revival’ album did not break the top 10 on Billboard Hot 100. Would be interesting to see how songs off of ‘Kamikaze’ perform on the charts.
So Eminem says even his career seems to be on the descent and he is in no position to help his former friends of the group. This is a different personality from Eminem than what we saw in “Fall,” where he sings he will not fall.
Eminem finally shuts the door on D12 forever in “Stepping Stone.” He does not want to prolong anyone’s hopes of the members re-uniting and making hit tracks. Even Eminem’s fading grace would not help them recover the band. So Em is quitting on the band, but not on their friendships.
“Stepping Stone” is undoubtedly one of the heartfelt confessionals on ‘Kamikaze’ album, which otherwise is dedicated to bombarding the ‘artists’ who have disgraced the art of rap and hip-hop. We love this track for a change of pace, and Eminem gives us his usual smooth flow and rhymes.
Let us know what you think about “Stepping Stone,” it’s lyrics and what this song means to you. If you like this article, make sure to share it with other Stans.
Full Lyrics to “Stepping Stone” by Eminem