Eminem’s “The Kids” Lyrics Meaning
Eminem’s “The Kids” is both comedic and serious – if you want to perceive it as the latter – at the same time. It features Eminem, in the height of his rap-spitting glory, taking on the role of what would be an elementary school teacher. And the featured lesson focuses on is him enlightening them to the fact that “drugs are bad”.
Moreover, he goes about doing so by detailing three distinct cases to illustrate the point at hand. But of course Slim Shady has had his own experiences with drugs, and he’s definitely not a hypocrite. So let’s just say he keeps it real throughout while addressing said children and in the process delves into some other topics also.
Or stated differently, “The Kids” is about as close as the world would likely get to Eminem dropping a public service announcement via song. And if you are a fan of the rapper, lyrically this is about as good as it gets in terms of Marshall displaying his entertaining, versatile rap skills.
“South Park” inspired “The Kids”
As a subtheme this track was inspired by South Park, an animated television series which has proven to be just as controversial as Eminem himself. Such an influence contributes to the humor found throughout (as well as the role the vocalist takes on, as will be discussed in the trivia section).
But truth be told Shady is dealing with some deadly-serious matters in a very-frank manner, as he tended to do back in those days. For instance, the first verse centers on a character named Bob who, succinctly put, is a stalker and murderer. Bob is also an underachieving and shielded weed user who, despite being 30 years old, “still lives with his mom”.
Ultimately he goes on to murder a lady named Stacey and gets away with committing the crime. And apparently, the vocalist is relaying this story to the kids to discourage them from growing up to be adult slackers themselves, in addition to being weary of the likes of Bob.
The next verse centers on a different chap, Zach, who abuses a dangerous psychoactive substance called molly. Molly was the new, trendy intoxicant on the block when this track came out, and Eminem has addressed the misuse of this substance concurrently on another track entitled “Drug Ballad” (2000).
In both cases the rapper presents it as a drug which can permanently damage one’s spine. Said belief, which was prevalent at the time, proved to be incorrect. But even beyond that, “Zach, the psychoactive substance maniac” still abuses it to the point where he ends up “in a coma”. Or stated comprehensively, the second verse focuses on the dangers of this drug as perceived by the vocalist.
So having gotten grass and molly out of the way, in the final verse “Mr. Shady” turns his attention to psychedelic mushrooms. However, this time instead of focusing on the effect of the drug he rather emphasizes how it is grown. That is to say that magic mushrooms, as they are called, tend to sprang (naturally) from “cow dung”.
So the vocalists’ goal this time around is to gross the kids out to the point where they won’t experiment with this product. However, he does, perhaps intentionally, exaggerate its physical effects by implying that ‘shrooms will make one’s tongue swell. Rather the part of the body this substance really affects is the mind, and even one dose of it has a lasting impact.
Eminem is a Bad Role Model?
Then Eminem goes on to conclude the verse by stating that not only are drugs bad for children, but also he himself as an entertainer is. The latter assertion has been a common device throughout his career, as in the rapper acknowledging how the society at large, once again especially during those days, perceived him as a menace.
Indeed whereas Marshall may have gotten sober some years later, at the turn of the century he was still making songs (once again referencing “Drug Ballad”) where he more or less bragged about getting wasted. But as with this track, there also tends to be this sort of do-so-at-your-own-risk undertone. For whereas Eminem has never denied that he is influential, even negatively so, at the same time he also isn’t the type to accept responsibility for other people’s mishaps.
“The Kids” ultimately concludes with more allusions to South Park and accordingly even more brash humor. And the chorus of course consists of the vocalist asserting that “drugs are bad”, which many people consider to be the subtitle of this tune. And underneath all of the narratives and the jokes, that is in fact the main point he is trying to get across – that dealing with certain substances can negatively affect one’s life.
Facts about “The Kids”
This track can be found on the special edition and limited edition of Eminem’s RIAA diamond-certified “The Marshall Mathers LP” (2000). The first case features the clean version of the track and the latter the explicit version.
“The Kids” is not present on the standard edition of “The Marshall Mathers LP”. And how it made its way onto the special edition is by taking the place of a song called “Kim“(2000) on the playlist. Moreover this song track was never released as a single.
Eminem served as both a writer and producer of this tune, accomplishing both tasks alongside a couple of long-standing collaborators of his known as the Bass Brothers (Mark Bass and Jeff Bass). And another regular collaborator, Steve King (1958-2014), also contributed to writing the song.
“The Kids” interpolates a line from Ike’s Wee Wee, a 1998 episode of South Park, in which a character, Mr. Mackey (an elementary school guidance counselor), utters “drugs are bad, m’kay?” In fact it is that same character which Eminem is channeling throughout the entire song.
The labels behind this track are Shady Records, Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records. And its official release date was on 23 May 2000 (the same day which “The Marshall Mathers LP” was released).
This Eminem masterpiece inspired the lyrics of PewDiePie’s 2021 song titled “Coco“.