“Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem (ft. Rihanna)

The first thing that tends to jump out about Em’s “Love the Way You Lie” would be its catchy chorus, as rendered by Rihanna. The person who actually wrote it, Skylar Grey, has stated that it is partially based on her relationship with the music industry. But more to the point, within the actual context of the song in which it eventually landed, is that at the time she was addicted to guys whom she described as “*s*holes”. 

In other words, she became accustomed to toxic relationships and to a degree even preferred such partners. And that is the general idea that Rihanna is putting forth. She is in a relationship with someone who apparently habitually abuses her. However, she ‘loves the way he lies’.

Yes, obviously he would be some type of deceiver, but said assertion isn’t really so much about the words that come out of his lips.  Rather it would be more like the two of them being caught up in a love-hate relationship, particularly due to his actions. That is to say that the implication would be that he treats her well sometimes, or at least the vocalist would be under the impression that he truly loves. 

However, at other times, he causes her to “burn”, i.e. suffer emotionally or, all lyrics considered, even physically. And the narrator herself, being in love, would rather take it like that than to lose the guy who her heart belongs to.

Eminem

And initially Eminem takes a similar approach to describing the relationship he is in. He’s likewise the victim of an abusive partner, though in his case said individual being a female. And in letting the cat out of the bag early, let it be known that the general conclusion, as implied by the music video for instance, is that he is speaking to his infamous romance with Kimberly Scott. 

We all know that, when Slim Shady is in the mood, he can diss the damn out of her. But obviously, as he has also asserted in times past, she isn’t necessarily an angel either. 

Verse 1

And in the first verse, the relationship he is presenting is one whereas both parties involved have their issues. Or put differently she has the tendency to do things that make him angry, such as fraternizing with other dudes, and he also habitually ‘snaps’ as a result. But like Rihanna, even though this relationship isn’t the best, he finds himself addicted to his partner.

Verse 2

The second verse continues with an even elevated degree of the type of realism Eminem is known for. He starts off by speaking to an experience many of us go through if we were to be honest. And that experience involves falling in love at first sight but then eventually growing to detest the selfsame person. 

But more in line with the song’s overall narrative, in the latter regard he is talking more about a type of “rage” which has come to define the character of both parties involved. And outsiders are able to perceive that it is perhaps best if the two of you go your “separate ways”. But again, this song isn’t premised so much on the vocalist being in an abusive relationship as it is s/he being in love with the other person nonetheless. But ultimately the source of their discord, again being untruthfulness and most pointedly it would seem on behalf of the male, becomes too much for his significant other to bear. So to his dismay, eventually she decides to bounce for good.

Verse 3

But at the commencement of the third verse, the rapper is trying to win her back. And the main point of his argument to convince her to stay is that at the end of the day, even if it does seem like he’s the bad guy, both of them are equally guilty. So again, with this being true love and all, the two of them find themselves in a vicious cycle.  And Marshall is pledging not to lose his cool again, even though in his heart he knows he eventually will. 

Or more specifically pertaining to the matter at hand, he “just want(s) her back”, whether the relationship is toxic or not. In fact he’s crazy in love, and in true Slim Shady fashion he implies that if she tries to leave again, he’s basically going to murder her by trapping her inside of a burning house, thus loosely tying in to Rihanna’s own use of the word “burn”.

“Love the Way You Lie” is a Love Song

So conclusively, some analysts have referred to this as a love song, albeit Eminem / Slim Shady style. And all lyrics considered, we have to agree that such is the case at hand. At the end of the day, this isn’t so much about the narrators being caught up in abusive relationships, being victims even, but more so their lack of wherewithal to walk away from said associations. 

And if Eminem’s case is meant to be applied to Rihanna’s story also, then that means both of the vocalists too have their issues in terms of controlling their tempers and what have you.

But we can presume the song is really only centered on one narrative, that being Eminem’s, with Rihanna’s vocals meaning to back up Eminem’s main story. 

So as far as a comprehensive thesis sentiment goes, it would perhaps be something like it’s not so easy to walk away from an abusive partner when you’re actually in love with him or her. And verily, many of us have been witnesses to or even participants in romances whereas one or both parties may be abusive, lies and all, to the point where we wonder why they remain together. 

But remaining together, usually for an unhealthy amount of time, is what they do. And that is the phenomenon this song is addressing.  And obviously no one actually ‘loves’ it when their significant other lies. So if we were to flip that line to read more accurately as opposed to sounding cool, pertaining to what the actual lyrics mean, it would be more like ‘I love you even though you lie’.

Lyrics for "Love the Way You Lie"

Music Video

Joseph Kahn directed the music video to this song. He had worked on two previous Eminem videos, “Without Me” (2002) and “We Made You” (2009).

The music video to this song, although of course featuring Marshall Mathers and Rihanna Fenty, also utilized a couple of acting professionals, Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan. The former especially is probably a name you probably heard of, who was concurrently starring in the commercially-successful Transformers movie franchise at the time. 

In fact she’s such a big name in Hollywood that Joseph Kahn did not believe he would land her. However, being an actual fan of Eminem’s, she instantly accepted the role. As a matter of fact she even donated the dough she was paid to participate to an NGO called Sojourn House that deals with abused women.

This clip was a major success at the time of its release, in that it broke the YouTube single day record. It attracted 6,600,000 views within that time frame. And as of the writing of this post in mid-2021, it actually has in excess of 2.2 billion views.

Facts about “Love the Way You Lie”

Coming out on 18 June 2010, this was the first of four collaborations dropped by Eminem and Rihanna released between 2010 and 2013. Amongst them was a sequel to this song, entitled “Love the Way You Lie (Part II)”, which was also a 2010 release. And the others were “Numb” (2012) and “The Monster” (2013).

With the exception of “Love the Way You Lie (Part II)”, which wasn’t a single, all of the above were big hits. Such was to be expected since at the time Rihanna was in her vocal prime, and Eminem is a musician whose musical popularity seems to never truly fade. But that noted, the original “Love the Way You Lie” was by far the most-successful out of the lot, which is saying plenty if you look at the success of “The Monster” for instance.

For starters, the track went duodecuple-platinum, which is another way of saying it was certified platinum by the RIAA 12 times over. That’s another way of saying it went diamond and then double-platinum on top of that. 

The tune also achieved multi-platinum status in a few other countries outside of the United States, including the UK, where it went triple and Australia, where it has been certified quattuordecuple-platinum. And if you aren’t able to decipher that yourself, it basically means 14 times platinum. 

In fact Eminem is a man of innumerable mega hits, but in 2011 this particular song became his best-seller. And looking at his discography, that fact remains true even as of the writing of this post 10 years after it was released.

Even More Success

“Love the Way You Lie” also achieved number 1 chart status in over 20 countries. Amongst the charts it topped were the Billboard Hot 100 and UK R&B Chart. It fell just a spot short of topping the UK Singles Chart itself but still managed to be named the number one song on that selfsame listing for the year 2010. 

That phenomenon likely had to do with the fact that it sold more than any other song in the United Kingdom during that year. And overall it charted in approximately 30 nations.

And of course a hit of this magnitude was nominated for some Grammy Awards, five of them in fact in 2011, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year. But oddly enough, it didn’t win any of them. But it did receive many other notable awards, including the folloing:

  • Billboard Music Award (Top Rap Song, 2011)
  • Soul Train Music Award (Best Hip-Hop Song of the Year, 2010)

Additionally it achieved a few other notable accolades.

Love the Way You Lie
“Love the Way You Lie”

Em’s “Recovery” Album

The abovementioned release date of this track was also the day upon which the album it is featured on, Eminem’s Recovery, came out. A label the rapper founded back in 1999, Shady Records, were amongst its backers. And so was Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and gangsta rap pioneers Interscope Records. Polydor Records was also involved in the issuance of the song in the UK.

Credits for “Love the Way You Lie”

This track was produced by Alex da Kid, a well-tenured producer from London. And he also co-wrote the song with Eminem and Skylar Grey. Grey eventually went on to participate, in a vocal capacity on the 2011 Dr. Dre / Eminem collab “I Need a Doctor“.

This project actually began with an instrumental Alex da Kid created. Then Skylar Grey began penning the lyrics and put together a demo. Eventually it made its way to Eminem, who then went about recruiting Rihanna to participate in Skylar’s stead. And the reason he did so is because upon accepting the track, it was only Ri Ri whom he felt “could pull it off”.

Eminem talks about "Love the Way You Lie"

Meanwhile Rihanna opted to participate due to being able to relate to the lyrical content of the piece. This was right after she was infamously assaulted by fellow music superstar Chris Brown, with Rihanna at that time being 19 and Chris 20. So many people feel such was specifically why she was able to relate, due to being a victim of domestic violence. And she more or less went on to imply as much herself.

Rihanna comments on "Love the Way You Lie"
Rihanna explains "Love the Way You Lie"

More Interesting Facts

Eminem and Rihanna recorded their vocals in two different locations, apparently never crossing paths in the process.  Eminem did so in a facility called Effigy Studios, located in Michigan, his home state. And Rihanna laid down her vocals in Dublin, at a place called Sun Studios.

Eminem and Rihanna performed this song live together on a number of occasions. And on one such occasion, in June of 2010, they did so alongside Travis Barker of Blink-182 fame.

In addition to the aforementioned “Love the Way You Lie (Part II)”, as featured on Rihanna’s album “Loud” (2010), there is also a “Love the Way You Lie Part III”. The latter, which is a Skylar Grey solo, is the original demo she put together upon which the other two tracks in the series, though coming out earlier, are based.

Another notable musician involved in the creation of this song is one Makeba Riddick, whom you probably never heard of as she’s more of a writer and producer than vocalist. And in terms of her contribution, she is officially listed on Genius as the track’s Vocal Producer.

The first time Eminem teased this song was apparently on 27 May 2010.

A Controversial Song?

If you think some of the lyrics to this song are controversial, than you’re not alone. In fact Eminem dealt with some related backlash as recently as early-2021 due to a particular line where he apparently alludes to murdering his romantic interest. Some netizens took offense to that and tried to have the rapper cancelled, with Eminem’s response, as usual, being something like he’s going to keep doing this thing regardless.

He also dealt with some criticism at the time of the track’s release – for instance via the National Organization for Women – who felt that the lyrics defended abusive behavior and/or were based on a blame-the-victim type of motif.

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