“Gnat” is the eighth track on Eminem’s second 2020 album ‘Music to Be Murdered By: B Side.’ The title of the song references a species of tiny flying insects often labeled as pests. However, on the track, Eminem touches on many topics including COVID-19, politics, and his beef with Machine Gun Kelly.
Eminem released his second surprise album ‘Music to Be Murdered By: Side B‘ on December 18, 2020, a sequel to his January 2020 album ‘Music to Be Murdered By.’ The brand new album, 12th in his career, consists of 16 new tracks and carries on Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller theme from the former album.
The music video for “Gnat” shows Eminem in quarantine, as much of the world has been all throughout 2020, and jabs at the alleged source of the COVID-19 pandemic: bats. The music video is directed by Cole Bennett, who also worked on the “Godzilla” video from the previous album.
Listen to “Gnat” by Eminem
Buy ‘Music to Be Murdered By: Side B’ Album on Apple Music & Amazon
“Gnat” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
Prepare for the bars!
In these lyrics, Eminem compares his bars or lyrical prowess to the ongoing global pandemic caused by Coronavirus COVID-19. The disease brought the entire world to a standstill as it is one of the highest infectious diseases the world has seen. The disease is said to have originated from a meal made with Bats in the city of Wuhan, China. What started as a fever in Wuhan in October 2019, brought the whole to its knees by March 2020, enforcing global lockdowns and quarantines. Eminem’s verses are some of the most creative and catchy among rappers of all times. So, they are highly contagious. The phrase “right off the bat” is a genius double entendre to link up the two stories he is telling us now. Generally, ‘right off the bat’ is an idiom used to emphasize how fast the process is. Eminem might be insinuating that his verses are raw, fast, and clever. Secondly, ‘right off the bat’ also tells the origin story of the COVID-19 virus he has been talking about in the line before.
‘Martian’ is a term Eminem has been using to reference himself for a long time. This plays on the fact that his real name is Marshall Mathers. Also, it helps that ‘martian’ is a term we used to call the people from Mars (however, non-existent they are) or something out of the ordinary: which Eminem himself is. Linking ‘Martian’ into the ongoing story, Eminem says that the COVID-19 disease spread from something out of this world, just as how his out-of-the-world music skills are displayed to us common folks.
Finally, Eminem jabs at his ‘beef’ with Machine Gun Kelly, which sparked one of the most decorated rap battles of our time. Songs such as “Rap Devil” by MGK and “KILLSHOT” by Eminem came out of this beef. However, this line on “Gnat” does not look to reignite the beef.
Eminem kicks off the verse by rapping about his wealth and dominance in the rap game. After decades in the music game, Eminem still outsells most of the rappers out there and is on par with the best-selling artists of this time. So, it is not an exaggeration to call Em’s career is on the top of the Empire State Building. Em says that there is no competition for him in the industry and it is as if a child’s play at this point.
Ain’t nothin’ you say can ever Trump (Nah), mic, pencil get killed
Switching topics, Eminem turns towards politics but also retains the same theme of his dominance in the music industry. He says that there’s nothing anybody can say to him that can ‘trump’ his musical skills. It is no coincidence that Em selected the word ‘trump’ here, as he has been very vocal about his dislike for the 45th President of the United States; Donald Trump.
Eminem’s weapons of mass destruction are pencil, paper, and mic. However, clever wordplay here also brings up the name of Mike Pence, the 48th Vice President of the USA.
The remainder of the verse is dedicated to talking about the fight in Eminem. He is a veteran at the rap game and has been responsible for ending several artists’ rap careers who went against him. So, he claims that nobody’s going to “get rid of the fight in the dog.” The reference to Mike Vick is related to the former NFL quarterback who ran a dogfighting ring that landed him in prison.
The last two lines on the first verse are two good to pass by;
If I suck, your wife is a straw (Straw)
I’m sick and I’m not gonna cover my mouth next time that I cough
Many ‘critics’ and upcoming ‘artists’ try to go against Eminem mostly out of jealousy and to rub off of some of Em’s clout. If these people claim that Eminem sucks, they have to be extra careful now, because Eminem says their wives are straws, and people suck on straws!
The second line is another beautiful play of words linking up the two stories he maintains throughout “Gnat.” Many people also claim that Eminem is ‘sick’ referring to his disturbing messages and vulgar lyrics in his early works. However, Eminem says that these claims are not going to make him ‘cover his mouth’ or stop him from being him. Secondly, the line carries on the idea of the COVID-19 virus, where one of the earliest symptoms of the disease is cough, and then you fall sick.
In the second verse, Eminem carries on the theme of the song. He plays on the ideas of him being the best in the game and the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, one of the main control mechanisms imposed was keeping social distancing e.i. at least 6 feet between two people in public. Eminem says this is just like him in the rap game–no one even comes close to him in skill. His flows are viral, just like the virus went viral all over the world.
Another clever pun is when Eminem says “nightmare will end” as ‘night’mare’ll end’ which sounds like Marylin. Norma Jean is Marylin Monroe’s birth name. Marylin Monroe died from a drug overdose and her death was a shock for most of the world. And 2020 has been a nightmare to a lot of people, with loved ones dead, sick, businesses bankrupt, and more.
And more and more bars follow.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics and further meaning breakdown on Genius.