Eminem’s “Stan” Lyrics Meaning

This is one of the greatest rap songs in history, even if some purists deny such due to prejudices against the artist. In fact due to this track, the word “stan” has now become a popular slang word – or more specifically it has recently been added to the mainstream canon of the English language. The foundation of this track’s greatness is that it is one of the best storytelling raps ever in that it is easy to follow. Furthermore, it is understandable and interesting, almost like a good movie.

The song revolves around the story of a fictional guy named Stan who, to say the least, is a devout fan of Eminem. But Stan’s most dominant characteristic is his serious mental issues. This is manifest in the fact that he attempts to communicate with Shady throughout the song and due to not getting a prompt response becomes increasingly angry and violent. Ultimately he handles his disappointment by committing a murder-suicide via driving himself and his pregnant girlfriend off of a bridge.

A Twist

The shocking twist is that at the end of the song Eminem does decide to write him back. Slim is cognizant of Stan’s fragile mental disposition, so when he is writing the letter he encourages him not to do any “crazy sh*t” like a guy he had seen on the news who killed himself and his girlfriend, only to realize that the person on the news was indeed Stan.

Lyrics of "Stan"

As far as the actual meaning of this song, Eminem wrote it in response to the “crazy fan mail he gets from people”.  In other words, at the time of its penning, Shady himself was overwhelmed as well as disturbed by the amount of attention he gets from some people, such as those who actually want to emulate all of the things he says on record. As such, he wanted to use this track to send a very important message to these fans. And the said message is as follows: “everything that (he says) is not to be taken literally”.

Facts about “Stan”

Eminem and two other songwriters (Dido and Paul Herman) receive songwriting credits for “Stan”. The production of the track was done by DJ Mark the 45 King, a producer from the Bronx, New York.

In 2017 the word “stan”, derived from this song, became so popular that it was entered into the English Oxford Dictionary. It is defined as an obsessive fan of a celebrity or famous figure.

This is the third song on the tracklist of Eminem’s album The Marshall Mathers LP. The album was released on 23 May 2000 as Eminem’s third studio album.

The chorus of the song is a remixed sample of the first verse of Dido’s 2000 track “Thank You” from her album No Angel. Logically both the single and the album greatly increased in popularity due to the success of “Stan”.

When Rolling Stone published its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” in December of 2004, this song came in at number 296.

The producers of the Grammy Awards sued the peer-to-peer file-sharing service Napster in 2001 due to their software being used to illegally download the Eminem / Elton John version “hundreds of thousands of times”.  Apparently this prevented that version from being released as a single.

Eminem released a sequel to “Stan” entitled “Bad Guy” in 2014. This time around instead of taking on the role of Stan, Eminem instead plays his younger brother Matthew. In the song, Matthew seeks revenge against Em for the death of his brother.

Stan’s full name, as revealed by the tombstone on the music video, is “Stanley Mitchell”.

Dido went on to name her first child, who was born in July of 2011, “Stan”, although she states she didn’t do so because of this song.

Music Video

The music video for “Stan” was nominated for Video of the Year at the 2001 BET Awards. Furthermore, it was also nominated for a number of MTV Video Music Awards in 2001. Some of these nominations included the following:

  • Video of the Year
  • Best Male Video
  • Best Rap Video

MTV aired an edited version of the music video where portions were removed from each verse as well as certain imagery they deemed offensive. Even MTV’s full version of the video, which measures in at 8 minutes and 15 seconds, had portions edited.

The song itself was nominated for Best Song at the 2001 MTV Europe Music Awards.

Famous Live Performances

Eminem performed “Stan” at the 2001 Grammy Awards, with openly-gay singer Elton John singing the chorus in place of Dido. The reason for this move is at the time Eminem was facing backlash from lyrics pertaining to homosexuals and sexism in some of his other songs. In fact the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) organized a protest outside of the Staples Center, the venue of the 2001 Grammy Awards, against The Marshall Mathers LP, which ended up winning Grammy for the Best Rap Album.

Eminem and Dido performed “Stan” on the 7 October 2000 episode of “Saturday Night Live”. This went down history as one of the most notable live performance of the song. 

Did Eminem release “Stan” as a single from The Marshall Mathers LP?

Yes. It was released as the third single from that album on 21 November 2000.

Who directed the music video for “Stan”?

It was directed by Dr. Dre, who is also the executive producer of “the Slim Shady LP” and Eminem’s label boss.

And just to note, the person who portrayed the character of Stan in the music video is Canadian actor Devon Sawa. He says that working on the video was one of the highlights of his career. Interestingly enough, Sawa’s agent and others on his team were against him taking the role. But being a fan of Eminem, Devon decided to do so anyway.

The role of the pregnant girlfriend in the video was played by Dido, who also sings the chorus.

Before “Stan”, had Eminem and Dido ever worked together?

No. Creating and performing the song, gave Dido the opportunity to work with Eminem (who was at that time at the peak of his career). The collaboration greatly boosted Dido’s popularity around the world (especially in the United States).

Did “Stan” win a Grammy?

No. Despite its massive success, it was interestingly not nominated for a Grammy.

Chart Success

“Stan” achieved worldwide success with multiple #1 placements on the following countries’ charts:

United Kingdom#1

To top its above triumph, it also scored a top-10 in many other regions such as the following:

United States of America#9

“The Marshall Mathers LP”

This album that was criticized by a lot by music critics due to it being hugely controversial was officially came out on 23rd May, 2000.

In criticizing Eminem, many labelled him as an artist who advocates murder and rape due to the extreme lyrics on the album.

Despite the controversies associated with the album, it has sold more than 21 million copies worldwide making it one of the best-selling albums of all time. It also went on to be a recipient of the 2001 Grammy Awards in the “Best Rap Album” category. 

Today, “The Marshall Mathers LP” is considered one of the greatest (commercially and critically) albums ever made.

In addition to “Stan”, the following songs supported the album as its official singles:

7 Responses

  1. Olayemi.tha.pessimist says:

    Im a stan..
    But i ain’t gon’ be that much obsessed..
    Ima lay line and rhymes like marshal
    But i know my level
    I ain’t gon’ kill my self over some white rap idol..

  2. Anonymous says:

    Whoa… this comment section

  3. Jodi says:

    I knew this song ever since my primary school years. But only this year did I discover the story behind the song, and woah, what a mind blowing discovery!

    • Anonymous says:

      same here I only got the chance of looking at the lyrics seriously when i was concentrating on the lyrics while driving and it triggered some real life strong issues that people do and it further reinforces the fat that mental health is paramount. Good message behind the song. i agree its a mind blowing

  4. Rick james itch says:

    Glizzy meat

    great review

  5. Julisah says:

    I’m still a little confused on if Stan actually killed himself like was Stan a real fan of Eminem and killed himself over him not writing back?

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