Not content to wait until the release of his forthcoming album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, which is due out next month, Eminem has just leaked another track, “Rap God.” It will be available on iTunes at midnight.
Like “Berzerk,” though in a less obvious way, Eminem again pays tribute to the old school. Rather than give his chorus to an R&B crooner like Rihanna or the New Royales’ Liz Rodrigues, the latter of whom sang on his recent MM2 single “Survival,” he instead delivers a straight rap refrain about feeling like a rap deity. His verses recall hip-hop history (repping Heavy D & the Boyz and the kerfuffle between Fabolous and Ray-J) as much as his own history (dating his salad days with a Monica Lewinsky nod and an Aftermath Entertainment call-out). He even raps one of the final verses at warp speed in a way that’s reminiscent of the closing verse from female hip-hop trio J.J. Fad’s 1988 hit “Supersonic.”
Over the course of six minutes, he also pays tribute to the rappers who inspired him. He calls himself a “product of Rakim” as well as Tupac, N.W.A. and Lakim Shabazz. But the best part comes about halfway through, when he explains why he’s so on-point in the song, saying that he feels the need to write a few rhymes because, “even you unsigned rappers are hungry, looking at me like it’s lunchtime.”
“I know there was one time when I was king of the underground,” he raps at one point. It’s a line that becomes more poignant at the end of the track when he asks, “Why be a king when you can be a god?”
Popular on Rolling Stone
Stream “Rap God” below: