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Eminem a Confessional Poet?

Updated on February 28, 2014
Graffiti of Eminem in Shanghai, China
Graffiti of Eminem in Shanghai, China | Source


Poetry and Rap are two different breeds of artistic expression. On one hand you have poetry, which is an art form used to create beautiful imagery and captures moments that others can relate to. On the other hand you have Rap, which is an artistic expression in music. Some wouldn’t go so far as to say that Rap is Poetry, but in a sense it really is a form of poetry. True most of the rap music of today is obscene and degrades women to mere objects for men to play with; however, there are a few rappers that use their craft as confessional poetry. They put their lives within their words in order to paint a picture of who they really are. One of these rappers is Eminem. He is a controversial character who enjoys going against the grain and rattling feathers of conservative people, but there is no denying that he is a confessional poet and a master of his craft. Sure some of his music is used to attack others in his industry, but a lot of his music is about his life and what he endures day in and day out. He is an artist that puts his heart into his craft and leaves everything he has in his lyrics. Eminem leaves no subject untouched and I believe he thrives in his pain and creates music that many of the underdogs can relate to.

Monster Music Video


Confessional Poetry is a form of poetry where the writer allows the readers to see into their soul. The poet puts personal experiences into their work and willingly shares them with their readers. This is why Eminem could be considered a confessional poet. He allows his listeners, fans, to get a glimpse of his life and the chaos that has become his life since becoming rap sensation. One of his most recent songs that is confessional is Monster. In this song Eminem raps about his life, his fame, his addiction, nothing is left untouched. He describes his career as a rapper as being a monster, one that he can’t escape from. The song also plays on this kind of split personality idea with the chorus: “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed / Get along with the voices inside of my head / You’re trying to save me stop holding your breath / And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy / Well that’s not fair”. Here I think Eminem is showing how his career has created this double life, and this monster that is his life is something that he has now come to terms with and embraced. I think he is also bringing to life the fact that being in the public eye the way he is would make anyone seem crazy, and that’s how the public views him. He has been in the media for a multitude of things from publicly hating his own mother to being perceived as a crazy stalker of Mariah Carey. Eminem and the media seem to have this love hate relationship, he hates their negative attention and they love his obscenities because scandals make for interesting articles. Confessional Poetry also allows for the poet to be vulnerable and Eminem is very vulnerable in his music. I think he attacks the issues at hand before the media or his peers so that he can say been there done that, I’m over it. He does it in order to beat them to the punch. Monster as well as many of his songs attacks himself and the demons he is dealing with because it makes that subject less taboo, I think. If an artist refuses to discuss a vulnerable part of them, then it leaves the window open for others to use that against them. Another aspect of confessional poetry is that it is relatable, and while I’m not convinced Eminem seeks to help people with his music he does. In third verse of his song Monster he says that if he helps one kid then that’s great, but he’s not here to ‘save’ the children:

Call me crazy, but I have this vision
One day that I'd walk amongst you a regular civilian
But until then drums get killed and I'm coming straight at
Emcees, blood get spilled and I
Take it back to the days that I get on a Dre track
Give every kid who got played that
Pumped up feeling and shit to say back
To the kids who played 'em
I ain't here to save the f*cking children
But if one kid out of a hundred million
Who are going through a struggle feels and then relates that's so great
It's payback, Russell Wilson falling way back
In the draft, turn nothing into something, still can make that
Straw into gold chump, I will spin Rumpelstiltskin in a haystack

Eminem says here that he wants to pump his listeners up and get them excited, but his vision wasn’t to save children that have gone through things he had. However, if only one kid finds something in his lyrics then that’s great. I think all artists want people to gain something from their work. It shows that they have done something worthwhile; something that people can relate to and think hey I’m not alone.

Legacy Music Video


One song that clearly shows him creating something relatable is Legacy. In this song Eminem creates lyrics that I feel many kids of this generation can relate to, it’s about a kid who gets made fun of and has a bad home life. He has no dad and looks to rap and hip-hop music to escape and spew his anger and hate. I think many kids could relate to this and I’m sure Eminem wrote this based on his life growing up, but who would have thought it would turn into a song that so many young people could look to for reassurance that no matter how bad things are you have to find something that helps you get through. With Eminem it was rap; he found talent in the hatred and anger and used it to make a huge name for himself. Legacy is about what he is leaving behind in the rap world and in his life. He is creative with twisting words and using them in ways that no one would of ever thought of, he is a one of a kind and ultimately untouchable. In the chorus he is speaking to his fans telling them to trust in his words: “And if you fall, I’ll get you there, I’ll be your savior from all the wars / That are fought inside your world, please have faith in my words cause / This is my legacy”. I think he is saying that his music will help that no matter what you’ve been through only you can make things better. He is saying that by leaving behind this legacy he is leaving behind lessons for young artists to look at and try to be better or possibly find their own path. It’s an encouraging song for young kids to listen to because despite the anger you feel there is hope in his lyrics. I think he may have wrote this song for all the ‘Marshall Mathers’ out there that see no light at the end of the tunnel and feel trapped and lost. He is giving these kids hope. Sure it’s an odd way to illustrate confessional poetry, but this song is vulnerable and speaks volumes. He allows you into what makes him the best in his field and what it takes to rise above darkness. In the first verse of Legacy Eminem describes this kid who is shoved aside and made fun of amongst his peers, a nerd if you will? This character is someone that listeners can relate to and see themselves in. Then in the second verse we see the character transforming and he starts to find comfort in hip-hop music and in his music; finding confidence in his writing and being able to unleash his anger in a constructive way. In the third verse the character is accepting who they are and comfortable with the path that they have chosen for themselves. The character finds something unique in the way he is and the way he is inspired by anger and hatred that others have for him. This is confessional poetry Eminem is putting it all out there for the world to see and he isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and let the world see into his organized chaos. He is creating a type of confessional music that mimics confessional poetry. Rap on paper without the beats and bumps is in itself poetry. It's an emotion, a moment, captured by ink.

You Decide

Eminem a Confessional Poet?

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Eminem on the cover of VIBE magazine
Eminem on the cover of VIBE magazine | Source


Slim Shady LP
Marshall Mathers LP
Devil's Night (with D12)
The Eminem Show
D12 World
Marshall Mathers LP 2
Cover for Eminem's book The Way I Am published in 2008.
Cover for Eminem's book The Way I Am published in 2008. | Source

60 Minute Special on Eminem


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    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 

      24 months ago from Illinois

      I'm a big fan of Eminem for that reason. He's not afraid to be vulnerable and to reveal his true self, even the uncomfortable parts. That's rare for a genre that's full of people bragging and putting up macho facades in their lyrics which don't have a lot of truth to them or substance.

    • Brittany Kussman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brittany Kussman 

      4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thanks for reading! True some of his content is unpopular, but I admire how he puts raw emotion into his music. And I love how his rhymes just seem to flow. He is a master of his craft.

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 

      4 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Very interesting hub and insightful hub! I have no issue with calling Eminem a confessional poet. Even though I do have issue with some of the content of his music, there are times when he is a brilliant and articulate lyricist. His song "Stan" is a personal fave of mine. At his best he is capable at displaying real emotional depth.


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