“The King And I” by Eminem (ft. CeeLo Green)
The implication, all things considered, is that “the King” mentioned in the title is a reference to Elvis Presley, aka the King of Rock and Roll. However, most of the lyrics feature Eminem in classic Slim Shady form – boasting about being mentally deranged, possessing an affinity for drugs, bragging about his exceptional success, etc., all through comedic though very adult-oriented language.
But later on, in the third verse, he does get around to mentioning Presley himself. In fact those who are familiar with Em’s career may know that he has been compared to Elvis in the past. And although both of them are legendarily-successful musicians, some of those comparisons have not been of the complimentary type.
What has been put forth by some is that both artists are guilty of what is referred to these days as cultural appropriation or, more simply put in context, stealing African-American music. We don’t know how much of such accusations Elvis actually faced in his lifetime, but Eminem has humbly acknowledged that he understands he’s profited from an art form developed by Black people. And indeed, even at the beginning of the third verse of this song he states forthrightly “I stole Black music”.
But in the grand scheme of things, in sociology we also have what is referred to cultural exchange, which argues that there’s no way two different cultures can interact without exchanging ideas and practices. So by and large, such criticisms are unfair. Furthermore, it would appear that Marshall, who has been dealing with plenty of such assessments as of late, understands that also. So that may be why unlike times past, now Eminem appears to not only be accepting of certain similarities between Elvis and himself but also, it would appear, empathizes with Presley. And in terms of how he feels about critics in general, the vocalist concludes the verse (and song really) by basically putting forth he doesn’t pay much attention to naysayers.
Lastly, it is well known that the King had his own issues with drugs, which is generally believed to have contributed to his untimely death. We also know that Eminem, at least at one point in time, actually went to rehab. But again, “The King and I” is more along the lines of a classic Slim Shady tune, and therefore he’s not making any apologies on this piece. Instead, the rapper even points out the fact that he’s richer than his rivals, despite having a dependency on “prescription drugs and liquor”.
In the chorus, CeeLo Green buttresses the notion that the thesis sentiment of this track idealizes and propagates a don’t-give-AF attitude. So maybe it can be said that this is the same general type of song Shady and Green would have dropped if they had in fact collaborated back in the early-aughts, when both were in their primes, so to speak.
This song is actually from the soundtrack of a film titled Elvis (2022), which looks like it may be the most high-end movie about the King of Rock and Roll ever made. In addition to the film of course featuring a number of songs by Presley, its companion soundtrack features a number of musicians who hit the scene well after Elvis passed away over 40 years ago. Amongst them are Eminem and Cee-Lo Green. Other notable names include:
- Chriss Isaak
- Swae Lee
- Stevie Nicks
- Jack White
- Doja Cat
- Tame Impala
- Denzel Curry
- Gary Clark Jr.
- Jazmine Sullivan
Release Date of “The King And I”
This track, which has a release date of 24 June 2022, marks the first collaboration between Em and CeeLo Green.
Em and CeeLo
For the record, both Eminem and CeeLo are hip-hop artists whose careers date back to the 1990s. The former, who comes from Detroit, is one of the most-successful, popular and prolific rappers in industry history. CeeLo, who hails from the ATL, made a name for himself as part of Goodie Mob, who haven’t really been relevant since the 20th century. However, he later achieved greater notoriety, in part as a soloist, than any of his bandmates. And whereas both he and Eminem have dealt with their fair share of controversies,
This piece was written by CeeLo, Eminem and Dr. Dre, with the latter being the producer of “The King and I”.
NOTE: There is also a well-known classic musical, dating back to the 1950s, titled The King and I.