Eminem shows off his battle MC roots on the now-platinum The Marshall Mathers LP 2 track “Rap God.” But seeing the rapper’s roller-coaster flow on display in his latest visual offering should leave fans in awe.
The six-minute video opens with Em, done up like the popular 1980s television character Max Headroom, mouthing the words from an old Captain America audiobook sample, with a static sound in the background. Slim Shady has often given nods to pop culture icons and moments in his videos. Michael Jackson, Marilyn Manson, Elvis Presley and comic hero Robin have all been represented in Em’s collection of eye-popping clips, and “Rap God” follows tradition.
After the intro, we find Marshall strapped to a chair, much like the one actor Keanu Reeves sat in when he played sci-fi hero Neo in “The Matrix” trilogy. While strapped to the chair, an unconscious Em gets fed information as computer cameras scan his library of novels, comic books, vinyl records and television moments, like when former president Bill Clinton sat before the nation and denied having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.
The suggestion that Em is something other than human, receiving artificial assistance to pen his rhymes plays right along with the “Rap God” vocals, as he flips references to Superman, Thor, N.W.A. and female rap group JJ Fad, with expert rhymes, but little reason.
Marshall also borrows from himself. For the song’s second verse Em, enters a rhyme cypher in a scene that looks strikingly familiar to his 2002 film “8 Mile,” in which he played a young rapper fighting to make his mark by winning some unlikely rap battles. Wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and a backpack in the “Rap God” clip, Eminem gets the gathering crowd hyped with his multisyllabic rhyme patterns.
As the video begins to close, Em really sets himself apart from the pack and assumes his mantle as a rhyme deity as he walks across water in a clear biblical reference. “Why be a king, when you can be a God?” he asks before collapsing from apparent rhyme exhaustion.