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Eminem's Most Underrated Ballad


Happy 22nd anniversary to the Slim Shady Lp; in this episode of Eminem's most underrated songs, we are going over the last entry from the Slim Shady Lp.

Lyric Breakdown

"Ayo, this song is dedicated

To all the happy people

All the happy people who have real nice lives

And have no idea what it's like to be broke as fuck"-Slim Shady

This opening is a perfect intro to Rock Bottom; it lets you know Eminem's mental state right away. He is so miserable that he resents happy people.

"I feel like I'm walkin' a tight rope without a circus net

Poppin' Percocet, I'm a nervous wreck

I deserve respect but I work a sweat for this worthless check

I'm 'bout to burst this TEC at somebody to reverse this debt

Minimum wage got my adrenaline caged

Full of venom and rage, 'specially when I'm engaged

And my daughter's down to her last diaper, it's got my ass hyper

I pray that God answers, maybe I'll ask nicer

Watchin' ballers while they flossin' in they Pathfinders

These overnight stars becomin' autograph-signers"-Slim Shady

Great description in this section. "I feel like I am walking a tight rope without a circus net" is an excellent simile for poverty and Eminem's situation. Being poor and trying to rise above it is extremely difficult, like tight rope walking, and there is no safety net for Em between poverty and homelessness. One wrong step and everything, including his daughter and Kim's life, come crashing down. Eminem was doing pills at the time. He was depressed that he had done to the point of being sick.

It also makes sense that Eminem would be a nervous wreck as he has so much stress from trying to stay above water without help or a high school education and with a family to support. Next, Eminem talks about the worker's plight treated with no respect and working for a worthless check meaning the money he is receiving is not getting him a living wage.

Then he expresses wanting to burst this tec at somebody to reverse this debt. It makes sense crime is often the result of a lack of financial opportunity. If the cards are stacked against you, why would you abide by them? Simply put, why should you care about society if it does not care about you?

Eminem rants on that minimum wage is insulting, and it turns his frustration into anger which is compounded by the fact that he is engaged and his daughter needs diapers and other expenses, and he is hyper to find a way to provide for his family. Then he talks about feeling like God does not seem to care about him, like maybe he has not asked nice enough because he has watched others blow up and find success as he works his ass off and is drowning in his circumstances.

"We all long to blow up and leave the past behind us

Along with the small fries and average half-pinters

But player-haters turnin' bitch like they have vaginas

'Cause we see them dollar signs and let the cash blind us

Money'll brainwash you and leave yo' ass mindless

Them snakes slither in the grass, spineless"-Eminem

I like this section for many reasons. First off, Eminem continues the god scheme with snakes. I also like that he unites everyone at the beginning of the verse and points out that everyone wants to blow up and have a life bigger than their own. However, he warns people not to be blinded by money and lose themselves because money can blow you up, but it can also brainwash you and make you lose yourself(I couldn't resist) if you let it.

Also, Em points out plenty of people will betray you for that money snakes slither in the grass spineless. Eminem was dealing with this at the time of the song. Eminem and his friend moved to a place across the street from his old place because the guy living there offered cheaper rent, but he pocketed all the cash and bounced, and they got evicted. Snakes slither in grass spineless. Also, Shoutout to genius Eminem uses sibilance, making the S hissing sound with Snakes slither in the grass spineless.

"That's rock bottom, when this life makes you mad enough to kill

That's rock bottom, when you want somethin' bad enough to steal

That's rock bottom, when you feel like you've had it up to here

'Cause you mad enough to scream, but you sad enough to tear

That's rock bottom, when this life makes you mad enough to kill

That's rock bottom, when you want somethin' bad enough to steal

That's rock bottom, when you feel like you've had it up to here

'Cause you mad enough to scream, but you sad enough to tear"-Slim Shady

I think the Chorus perfectly captures the sadness and desperation of the track.

"My life is full of empty promises and broken dreams

I'm hopin' things look up, but there ain't no job openings

I feel discouraged, hungry and malnourished

Livin' in this house with no furnace, unfurnished

And I'm sick of workin' dead-end jobs with lame pay

And I'm tired of bein' hired and fired the same day

But fuck it, if you know the rules to the game, play

'Cause when we die, we know we all goin' the same way

'Cause it's cool to be the player, but it sucks to be the fan

When all you need is bucks to be the man, plus a luxury sedan

Or comfortable and roomy in a 6

But they threw me in the mix with all these gloomy lunatics

Who walk around depressed, and smoke a pound of cess a day

And yesterday went by so quick, it seems like it was just today

My daughter wants to throw the ball, but I'm too stressed to play

Live half my life and throw the rest away"-Slim Shady

Eminem really up's the lyricism in this verse. He does a lot of bitter ironies. He says my life is full...of empty promises and broken dreams playing on full and empty. He is hoping things look up.. but there ain't no job openings. He wants to turn the corner, but it is like he can't; he is not allowed. Also, there is a double meaning on hungry. He is literally hungry and malnourished but also figuratively hungry for success.

Also, the irony of having a house but not having any furniture or heat. Having a job but not been paid enough for it to matter being hired and fired quickly. Here we see a crucial shift where Em says fuck it; I am going to start playing the game way other people do "fuck it you if know the rules to the game play" Eminem points out how shallow society is where you are cool as a player but lame as a fan, but there is no substantive difference just money.

Lastly, Em is expressing frustration with his lot in life as the days are blending, and he is so tired from the grind he can't even enjoy time with his daughter. He feels like he is living half his life and throwing the rest away doing things he hates.

There's people that love me and people that hate me (Yup)

But it's the evil that made me

This backstabbin', deceitful and shady (Mhm)

I want the money, the women, the fortune and fame

That means I end up burnin' in Hell, scorchin' in flame

That means I'm stealin' your checkbook and forgin' your name

This lifetime bliss for eternal torture and pain

'Cause right now, I feel like I've just hit the rock bottom

I've got problems, now everybody on my block's got 'em (Duh)

I'm screamin' like them two cops when 2Pac shot 'em

Holdin' two Glocks, hope your doors got new locks on 'em

My daughter's feet ain't got no shoes or socks on 'em

And them rings you wearin' look like they got a few rocks on 'em

And while you flaunt 'em

I could be takin' 'em to shops to pawn 'em

I got a couple of rings and a brand-new watch, you want 'em?

'Cause I ain't never went gold off one song

I'm runnin' up on someone's lawn with guns drawn"-Slim Shady

Eminem is a big Pac fan here. He refers to the time 2pac shot the cops to stop them from beating up on an unarmed black man. Also, Here is the climax of the whole song. It foreshadowed in the first verse and the change that was being shifted to in the second verse. Eminem has hit rock bottom "fed up with life and the way things are going " he has turned to crime and deception and shady tactics to acquire money for his family.

He has lost all hope in society and himself and has turned his back on both and become backstabbing, deceitful and shady, and Em points out how it does not just affect the one person when this happens. It affects everyone. "I got problems now everybody on my blocks, got them." It spreads through the community. This verse could be looked at as a flash-forward if Em had not blown up of what would have become of him.


This song was written when Em was in such a dark place. He had just been fired; his career was not going well; he had no money. He could not even afford to get his daughter a present, and her birthday/Christmas was coming up. This song is a masterpiece not only as a personal narrative but as a microcosm of poverty in America. This song still stands up to this day as a cultural critic.

Also, I focused mainly on content, but Eminem's two-syllable rhyme scheme was terrific. This song is in the underrated section because it is more than a great album cut; it is up there with Stan, Lose Yourself, Sing for the moment, and Til I collapse. When you talk about Eminem's greatest offerings, you need to talk about Rock Bottom

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