Sometimes a music artist’s lyrics have to be taken with a pinch of salt, the words can’t always be interpreted so literally, and we have to listen for the hidden meanings inside the metaphors. Due to this, artists have been known to create characters and adopt personas dependant on the subject matters of their songs. Back in his early days, Eminem adopted the role of Slim Shady when he delved into dark and twisted lyrics sometimes with a comedic edge that could make those who are not hardcore fans uncomfortable. Over the years both the rapper and his music have matured, the Slim Shady persona being used less and less to explore more insightful subjects. ‘Framed’ from the newly released 2017 album, Revival, sees the return of Slim Shady in all his twisted creativity. The music video released a few days ago has further proven this observation and caused a stir among both fans and casual listeners.
Watch the music video here (viewer discretion is advised due to violent nature and themes that could be upsetting for some): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVbQrvlB_gw
Even before the music video was released, fans noted the return of Eminem’s sound during older albums such as Relapse (2009). The rapper has always been on either an uphill or spiralling journey through his music, putting out both raw and honest lyrics he has never tried to hide behind. Notorious for creating controversial but creative lyrics has always had people split on whether Eminem’s music is offensive or if he is just saying what the rest of us are afraid to. Revival explores the artist’s personal issues with being stripped down in the media in ‘Walk on Water’ whilst also dealing with politically pressing issues in ‘Untouchable.’ ‘Framed’ paints a bloody and horrific picture of Eminem being accused of a crime he claims he did not commit simply because the lyrics of his song match up to the murders being investigated. Although the lyrics of ‘Framed’ may have been written for the sake of how they sounded, the process works to create something both chaotic and unnerving. The twisted tune behind the words causes the skin to crawl whilst Eminem’s harsh spitting of the lyrics enforces the violence behind them. In an interview Eminem admitted the creation of the song was mostly based on the beat behind it, explaining how he felt the beat was ‘evil’ and therefore needed ‘evil’ lyrics to go with it.
For horror movie lovers, the music video compliments the lyrics in all their disturbing darkness by depicting a man not in his right mind and the bloody consequences of this. The sped-up editing of Eminem’s movements causes him to appear disturbed, the spasmodic contortion of his arms and torso making it seem like he is trying to get away from himself. The video and lyrics toy with the idea of suffering with a spilt personality and the battle he is facing by being mocked with duplicates of himself. The certainty that Eminem was framed becomes less so as the music video progresses, the lyrics reflecting this in the chorus, ‘I’m almost certain I was framed,’ leaving room for significant doubt and putting into play the idea that it isn’t this version of Eminem who is guilty. The combination of live action and animated drawings blur the line between reality and fiction, warping the viewers’ mind in a state of confusion.
Certainly, a video to make up your own mind about, one thing we can all agree on is how Eminem still continues to push both creative and comfort barriers with his music.
Review by Skye W. Winwood