Friday Song: “Lose Yourself”

Friday Song: “Lose Yourself”

Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known professionally as Eminem, has a distinctive rap voice. Known for breaking barriers around white rappers, Eminem has had the top selling album in the world twice — in 2002 (The Eminem Show) and 2009 (Recovery). He was the best-selling artist of the 2000s, Billboard’s artist of the decade (2000-2009), and the third best-selling artist of the 2010s. He has earned 15 Grammy Awards, 8 American Music Awards, and 17 Billboard Music Awards.

With exceptionally clear diction and the ability to introduce various elements of vocal control (e.g., vocal fry, growl) at will, Eminem’s raps include some of the fastest ever registered and some of the most famous.

Today’s feature is one of the most widely known rap songs of all time, the main hit from the 2002 film 8 Mile, which starred Eminem as himself in his story about earning credibility as a white rapper in a mainly black rap community. The song won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Song, making him the first rapper to win this award. The song also won that year’s Critics Choice Award.

Compelling from the drop, the song summarizes Eminem’s tale as told in 8 Mile, a movie that ends with an amazing climactic rap battle. I had forgotten how potent and emotional this rap battle is until I was on a flight and rewatched the film (I’d also forgotten that Anthony Mackie was his opponent). The rap battle in 8 Mile is a powerhouse scene with a cathartic twist which I’d put against almost any film’s climactic confrontation.

“Lose Yourself” is in D with a tempo of 171 bpm. The song’s distinctive and haunting piano riff is deployed very smartly within a minimalist hip-hop arrangement — just a beat, a bass line, synth pads and surges, and a scratchy guitar filling it out. The song was Eminem’s first Top 100 single, and remained #1 for 12 consecutive weeks. It topped the charts in 19 other countries, and while it is not Eminem’s top-selling single, it is a song I can listen to anytime.


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