Humanity, The Curse of the Standard, and Flaws: Walk On Water by Eminem and Beyoncé

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Eminem’s latest album, “Revival” was so much anticipated, and it was for good reason. When the god of rap decides to take a sabbatical for a little too long, it’s normal that everybody gets a little edgy. Imagine if MJ had been alive all this time and only made his comeback now. Would his sound still be relevant? Are we still going to be interested in his style? These were some of the challenges with Eminem making a comeback. For some reason, even he felt the same way as he postponed the release of the album a little too many times. Even a proper Eminem fan like myself got fed up anticipating it. However, just before the album officially hits the market, he releases the one track on the album that painted his exact fears in red. In this track with Beyoncé, you can feel his fears and read his pains between the lines of familiar words. Like poetry, if we look a little deep and pick the hidden sighs and unwritten emotions, we can connect with this song on a much deeper level – at least I could.

“Why are expectations so high? Is it the bar I set?
My arms, I stretch, but I can’t reach
A far cry from it, or it’s in my grasp, but as
Soon as I grab, squeeze
I lose my grip like the flying trapeze
Into the dark I plummet, now the sky’s blackening
I know the mark’s high, butter–
flies rip apart my stomach
Knowin’ that no matter what bars I come with
You’re gonna harp, gripe, and
That’s a hard Vicodin to swallow, so I scrap these
As pressure increases like khakis
I feel the ice cracking, because—“

It’s simple. If he fails, he loses his grip on his fans and probably eliminated the beautiful idea his fans have of him. He strives and he stretches his arms in an attempt to reach the expectations he has set for himself, but he doesn’t seem to be able to reach it. No matter what he comes out with, the world is going to tear it apart (like I’m doing now) and judge and critique his words – the pressure right? What he shows here is his imperfection and really just his humanity. The possible negative reviews, and all the probable backlash is going to be a hard pill to swallow. We’ve all been there. If you follow Em well enough, you’ll have seen the general pattern of his fears. Having cancelled the release of a few albums and other projects, you can tell that he’s greatly under pressure about what the world thinks. We’ve really all been there. Writers are more in tune with their emotions, and it is entirely easier for us to pour them all on a blank canvass and hope there’s somebody who can relate with us. We all get insecure. We all are afraid sometimes, and even though we could show that we don’t give two jacks about what people think, we almost always do…because we’re still humans.

“It’s the curse of the standard
That the first of the Mathers discs set
Always in search of the verse that I haven’t spit yet
Will this step just be another misstep
To tarnish whatever the legacy, love or respect
I’ve garnered? The rhyme has to be perfect, the delivery flawless
And it always feels like I’m hittin’ the mark
‘Til I go sit in the car, listen and pick it apart
Like, “This shit is garbage!”

Authors like Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love, have complained about similar issues. How things get worse after a major break. Elizabeth Gilbert had to deal with the fear that her best book was behind her. So no matter what you do, your new stuff would never be as good as the last. That’s the curse of the standard. The standard could be one set by you as an individual, one set by others, and so on. It is the curse of the standard that keeps you searching your mind for that elusive creative genie, pick your stuff apart, and probably still toss it in the trash.

“’Cause I’m only human, just like you
Making my mistakes, oh if you only knew
I don’t think you should believe in me the way that you do
‘Cause I’m terrified to let you down, oh”

It’s true, I’m a Rubik’s—a beautiful mess
At times juvenile, yes, I goof and I jest
A flawed human, I guess
But I’m doin’ my best to not ruin your ex–
pectations and meet ’em, but first…

… “I walk on water
But I ain’t no Jesus
I walk on water
(It’s true, I’m a Rubik’s— it’s true—)
But only when it freezes
(It’s true—)”

Finally, we might have the power of gods. We might have creative powers that sets us apart from the world, but we’re essentially flawed. We might have the power to walk on water, but only when it freezes. We’re a bunch of beautiful messes, and we make mistakes.

If you were wondering how the album turned out, I thought it was awesome. (I might be a little biased.)

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Ejiro Lawretta Egba is a young chartered accountant and writer from Nigeria. She holds a degree in Accounting and is a qualified member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria. She is currently a Financial Analyst for a private equity firm in Nigeria, a ghost writer, and a writer/contributor for a number of websites and platforms, both home and abroad. With an immense passion for knowledge acquisition, she seeks to contribute her own quota to the African community and beyond. For info and inquiries, contact via: lawrettawritesbookreviews@yahoo.com

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