eminem the way i am lyrics meaning analysis

Eminem – The Way I Am | Lyrics Meaning Revealed

For a song that says a big FU to the whole world, Eminem’s “The Way I Am” reached pinnacles of success all throughout the world. And this is for good reason, too. The witty single tackles what Eminem is made up of and how no one, not even his label, can steer him away from who he is – a lyrical genius without a stop-cap.

“The Way I Am” was released as the second single from Eminem’s highly appraised album ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ on May 23, 2000. Eminem was on to his third album by this time and the white boy was making all kinds of headlines for his crazy writing skills and profound profanity. He was getting a lot of criticism as a result and so was his fan base growing exponentially. It was a weird mix of fruits and pains of stardom which was getting a little too overwhelming for Eminem.

Eminem wrote “The Way I Am” all by himself. Eminem revealed that he wrote the song while he was on a plane;

I remember being on a plane. I got on a plane and I was thinking, this flow in my head and then all of a sudden the piano started coming to me. I just kept repeating the melody so I didn’t forget it. I kind of wrote the song on the plane and then had to make the beat afterwards. I had to ask Dre how to do it because at that point in time I was still learning how to produce, so I needed to make the idea come to life. I was actually on the way out to LA at that time to record with Dre, so that was one of the things that I brought to him and I was telling him the idea. So we just had to keep the keyboard player to play a melody and then he had a bunch of drum sounds on his drum machine and I just started tap in. That’s kind of how it came about.

On top of writing the song, Eminem also made the beat and produced the song, first of his songs to carry all of these major credits.

“The Way I Am” peaked at #58 on Billboard Hot 100 Chart and at #8 on the UK Singles Chart. It also broke the top 10 in several countries across the world. In March 2022, RIAA certified the song to be 2x Platinum for selling over 2 million copies in the US alone.

Listen to “The Way I Am” by Eminem

Buy ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ Album on Apple Music and Amazon

Eminem “The Way I Am” Lyrics Meaning and Analysis

Intro

These spoken words are an insight into the song and what is to come. Eminem asks Dr. Dre to “let it run” and “turn the beat up.” Both of these are slight nods to the fact that Eminem made the beat and produced the song, something Dr. Dre used to do for Eminem before.

Next, Eminem goes to dedicate this song to someone. This is something he has done in many of his songs that bear an important message. But right now, he can’t really be bothered. This is not a dedication. This is a big FU!

Verse 1

And so it begins. An onslaught of lyrical madness and aggression, describing why this song is not dedicated to anyone. This song is for himself. He is airing out his frustration on how things are evolving around him.

The most meanest MC on this, on this Earth
And since birth I’ve been cursed with this curse to just curse

Eminem has been unfiltered all through his career. From his humble beginnings in street corners to selling out stadiums, he has not censored himself for the mass appeal. He would rather want to get his message and intent across than be a radio hit. He believes he was cursed to curse, and somehow it worked. He became bigger than any other rapper dead or alive; “How could I not blow? All I do was drop F-bombs,” says Eminem in a double entendre on “Rap God.”

To leave me alone, when you freaks see me out
In the streets when I’m eatin’ or feedin’ my daughter

This is for all the ‘Stans’ out there — the kind of Stans shown in “Stan.” The crazy fans were getting a bit too much at this point for Eminem. They absolutely respect no boundaries. At least when you see him with his daughter just have the decency to leave him be. At this point in his career, he was at the top of stardom and at the depth of his family life. And the Stans did not help at all. This kind of behavior pretty much forced Eminem to hide in his mansion in Detroit, not to mention the erosion of his relationship with his daughters. Even today, crazy fans keep commenting about Eminem on Hailie Jade’s Instagram posts and ‘demand’ new music from Eminem. He already addressed this in this song;

And no, I don’t owe you a motherf*ckin’ thing

Pretty self-explanatory!

Eminem also goes on to say that he has very little patience to deal with the crazies. He will not be Mr. Friendly whenever a crazy fan comes in between him and his daughters’ lives.

To you, Eminem is the GOAT and a living legend. To him, you are one of a billion just like yourself. You ask for one picture or one autograph. But when a few thousand more get in line, it can get pretty annoying pretty fast; “I’m tired of all you (Of all you), I don’t mean to be mean.”

Chorus

These lyrics have become immortal in rap history at this point.

And I am whatever you say I am
If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?

Although these lyrics sound simple enough, they run quite deep. Eminem says he is whatever you say he is. Why? Because he does not have the patience or the need to keep refuting everyone who claims Eminem to be something. At this point in his career, Eminem had earned the title of king of controversy. Critics took his lyrics to be literal – a misogynist, wife-beating, flesh-eating, devil-worshiping, sadistic, homophobic… Every other day, there would be a headline claiming Eminem was this and that. Eminem grows weary of trying to refute these claims. So, might as well absorb the criticism. And he did just that.

Verse 2

Eminem starts off the second verse of “The Way I Am” with a stab at his father, who he grew up without. Maybe this is why he is the way he is. But he says something else. Em says that he does not care, like his father did not for him, as he left Em when Em was just a baby.

And, “Oh, it’s his lyrical content
The song ‘Guilty Conscience’ has gotten such rotten responses.”

“Guilty Conscience” is a notorious song by Eminem from his previous album ‘The Slim Shady LP’ (1999). In the song, Eminem raps about, well, all things the devil can make a person do. And it’s not pretty. The song received backlash for its crude lyrics, despite Dr. Dre’s lyrics playing the role of the angel. Eminem didn’t create the devil, he merely rapped about it. The lyrical contents of this song were not something of a fiction. It is what was happening in the real world. So, maybe, the police and magazines should probably focus on catching the real predators in the society than hunt Eminem down for a song.

Eminem was also getting a lot of criticism for, well, everything bad that was happening around the time. When someone shoots up a school, it was pinned on Eminem because his lyrics motivated the shooter. That was one guy, though. Eminem’s music literally gains a few million streams per day. Where are all the other millions of shooters? Maybe something was wrong with that one guy?!

Marilyn Manson has suffered similar criticism all his career as well. It was reported that the shooters of Columbine High School in 1999 were fans of Marilyn Manson. Both Marilyn Manson and Eminem performed “The Way I Am” at a live concert.

Verse 3

In the third and final verse of the song, Eminem rebels against the demands of his label and the industry. He says that he will not be able to create another poppy sensation like “My Name Is,” the lead single from Eminem’s second studio album ‘The Slim Shady LP.’ The song has gained Eminem many accolades including Eminem’s first Grammy award in the category of ‘Best Rap Solo Performance.’ Despite this success, Eminem hated the song; “One thing I won’t do is put out another song like “My Name Is.” I can’t stand that f*cking song. This album is rawer. Fans looking for bubblegum rap aren’t going to get it here.”

But Em’s label demanded another hit for ‘TMMLP’ album. “When I wrote “The Way I Am” I had already turned in the whole album. Problem was my label felt that I didn’t have a lead-off single yet… The label wanted a single so I gave ‘em “The Way I Am,” which was the complete opposite of what they requested. I was kinda rebelling against the label by letting them know they couldn’t force me to do something that I didn’t want to do.”

Eminem did not want to be viewed as another pop sensation that would spit out radio hits after another. All he wanted to be was real. And people wanted to place Eminem into a block that would make them comfortable. A white rapper being successful in a predominantly black genre was unheard of back in the day. So, they had questions.

What school did I go to, what hood I grew up in

Eminem was the odd one out in the hip-hop genre and this did not sit well with a lot of people. Eminem never tried to be something he is not. He never pretended to fit in where he did not although he grew up with Black people, friends, and artists all his life.

And I’m thankful for every fan that I get

Eminem is thankful for every one of you. Without his fans, he would be nothing. This is the dream he dreamt of. But the dream is turning into a nightmare when Em can’t even use a public urinal in peace. He cannot eat a burger at a restaurant without people rushing to get autographs on napkins. Leave the man be.

“The Way I Am” may be a top hit by Eminem, but this song speaks of a common reality for many celebrities out there. Most of their personal lives fail due to crazy fans, paparazzi, and the media constantly chasing them for the smallest drop of gossip.

Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.

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