“The Monster” by Eminem (ft. Rihanna)
Many analysts have interpreted “The Monster” as Eminem and Rihanna portraying two sides of the same coin, i.e. the former battling his inner “monster” and the latter embracing it. But in reading the lyrics ourselves, the artists seem to be more in unison than that. That is to say the titular “monster” is actually symbolic, most simply put, of mental issues.
And just like Rihanna “get(s) along with the voices inside of (her) head”, by the time all is said and done Eminem has likewise made peace with the fact that he’s “nuts for real”.
And fans of Slim Shady know that his own mental wellbeing – or lack thereof – is one of the most common subjects of his music. As such, he doesn’t necessarily put anything forward on this song that we haven’t heard from him before. In fact the entire piece is more or less an extension of an idea he put forth way back on “The Way I Am” (2000), when Shady was beefing about people stepping to him in public even at times when he doesn’t feel like being bothered.
Fame, Fame, Fame
In other words, a “bittersweet” side effect of becoming such a popular entertainer is a resultant loss of privacy, so to speak. And he makes this known from the very first line, where Em acknowledges that attainting fame was in fact one of his goals. However, he didn’t want it to the point for instance where he was making “the cover of Newsweek” early on in his career. Instead his main goal was more along the lines of just establishing himself as a top-notch rapper.
And perhaps relatedly we can say, he suffers from a mental condition called OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) which causes people to strive to be perfectionists, for lack of a better word.
Who/What is “The Monster”?
But implicitly that would not be “the monster” per se. In fact truth be told, it’s a bit challenging trying to pin down what exactly Eminem’s problem is supposed to be. But all lyrics considered, we would presume it once again harps back to his misgivings about being a mega celebrity.
Eminem perceives himself as sort of an underdog in that during the early goings in his career he was underrated. But in the process of blowing up like he did, it would appear that some sanity was lost along the way.
Meanwhile Rihanna, largely on the main vocalist’s behalf, is speaking more to other people’s perceptions, as they perceive the likes of she and Eminem as being “crazy”. And as stated earlier she does in fact embrace such a categorization. And like Eminem, she has come to accept said ‘craziness’ as part and parcel of her being. As such, she feels that anyone who is thinking that she will one day change is doing so in vain.
So even though the verses and chorus are one in the same, based on how people would commonly interpret the latter they could conclude otherwise, as pointed out at the very beginning of the post. Basically Rihanna comes off as if she is singing about embracing her dark side, which is what “the monster” seemingly represents.
But Eminem isn’t really talking about his dark side per se, as he has done in many other songs. Yes, he does harp on it here and there, how he is being torn apart by an inner conflict. But more to the point is what pushed him over the edge in the first place. And that would actually be something like his mind being boggled due to his celebrity – not inner demons, as people tend to call them, per se.
So it’s like in a relatively-roundabout way, this is one of those songs where a famous vocalist is detailing how fame has negatively affected his wellbeing. And in Eminem’s case, considering that he was never really on it like that in the first place, such an effect seems to have been for the most part internal.
Facts about “The Monster”
Eminem and Rihanna had actually collaborated thrice prior to this track. Their most notable team-up of course was on the first one, 2010’s “Love the Way You Lie”, which was an even greater hit than “The Monster”.
And that’s saying a lot, because “The Monster” was a massive hit. For instance, it reached number 1 in over 20 nations and charted in almost 40 overall. Amongst the countries in which it made it to number one are states as diverse as Venezuela, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico.
And of course it accomplished the feat in Anglo-America, a few times overs. For instance, it not only topped the Billboard Hot 100 but also three other Billboard charts (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Mainstream Top 40 and Rhythmic). Furthermore, across the pond it bested both the UK Singles Chart and the UK R&B Chart. In addition to that, it was the top-selling song in the United Kingdom in 2010.
“The Monster” also went multi-platinum in a number of countries. And in that regard it performed most impressively in Eminem’s homeland of the United States. Here, it has been certified sextuple-platinum. But perhaps its greatest accomplishment is winning a Grammy Award in 2015, that being in the category of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
This track was produced by two relative unknowns, Frequency and Aalias. They were part of the original composers of it alongside Bebe Rexha and Jon Bellion. Yes, this is the same Bebe Rexha who went on to have a notable singing career of her own. And it was she who had written the chorus. She wrote it originally for a song she intended to record herself entitled “Monster Under My Bed”.
And relatedly some of Rexha’s vocals from the associated demo were also kept on the final product the final product, with the songstress also being credited as a background vocalist. And so is Jon Bellion, another name you may be familiar with as a singer, though he has been a lot more successful in terms of songwriting and producing.
The other credited writers of this track are Maki Athanasiou, Eminem and Rihanna.
According to Rexha, she actually got ‘blackmailed’ into giving her aforementioned song to Eminem. Indeed despite being an unknown artist at the time, she was not as excited as some readers may presume when she heard that Slim Shady wanted to utilize her tune. And that is because she knew that such transpiring would likely mean she wouldn’t be allowed to feature.
Furthermore, she also understood that if she were an actual co-headliner that would be her big break, like what Dido experienced with her 2000 Eminem collaboration “Stan“. And her fear did in fact materialize when her primary vocals ended up being replaced with those of Rihanna. This was once again according to Bebe completely against her will. But at the end of the day, she’s still appreciative for the success of “The Monster”. And why? Because it ‘put her in a position where people in the music industry started knowing who she was and respecting her’.
Release Date of “The Monster”
It was Rihanna who first teased the forthcoming of this song. She did so via a tweet she emitted on 11 September 2013. And the song went on to come out on 29 October of that same year. It came out as the fourth single from Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” album. And its labels, as usual with an Eminem track, are Interscope, Aftermath and Shady Records.
More Interesting Facts
Em has implied that he was the one who recruited Ri Ri to jump on this track. And the reason he did so is because at the time he thought the popular perception of them both was that that they are “a little crazy”.
The director of this track’s music video was also an established Slim Shady collaborator at the time, that being Rich Lee. And perhaps relatedly said clip features a number of references to older Eminem videos. It also featured his infamous or famous, depending on one’s perspective, 2001 performance of Stan alongside Sir Elton John at the Grammy Awards. And the visual was received well in that it garnered three MTV VMA nominations in 2014.
The aforementioned “cover of Newsweek” which Eminem references in the song was the 9 October 2000 edition of said magazine, where he appeared alongside his mentor, Dr. Dre. And interesting to note is that Newsweek actually took offense to the rapper making that statement as detailed above. According to the paper, Em wasn’t “abducted and forced to participated”.
As usual Eminem namedrops other celebrities in this song. And those include the following:
- rapper Kool Keith
- motivational speaker Jeff VanVonderen
- NFL star Russell Wilson
And he also gives a shoutout to a popular fictional character, Rumplestiltskin.