Decoding the Lyrics to Eminem's 'Kick Off' Freestyle
Eminem has had quite the third quarter in 2018. In response to his 2017 album Revival, Slim Shady released his scathing tenth studio album, Kamikaze, in September.
The album -- his ninth No. 1 album -- targeted a number of people including Joe Budden, Lil Yachty, DJ Akademiks, Machine Gun Kelly and more. Following the release, Em found himself engaged in an interesting rap beef with Machine Gun Kelly after Em called him out on “Not Alike.” The beef fizzled out following Em’s response to MGK’s “Rap Devil,” and we haven’t heard much from Marshall Mathers since.
Fast-forward two months and Eminem is back feeling the nostalgic vibes again. Inspired by his soon-to-be-released film BODIED, Em released an 11-minute freestyle titled “Kick-Off” on Friday (Dec. 1). “I’ve always looked at battle rap as competition or war,” he says at the beginning of the freestyle video posted on his Twitter. “And the main objective is to destroy. Completely f--king obliterate your opponent by saying anything and everything, whatever the f--k you can, to get a reaction from the crowd. So nothing’s off limits.”
The release of BODIED has me feeling nostalgic about battle rap so I headed down to my old stomping grounds, Hit the link for 10+ minutes of it -- “Kick Off" (Freestyle) - https://t.co/gR49ti7sVI pic.twitter.com/GzSmYlmaaW— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) December 1, 2018
Shot at The Shelter at St. Andrew’s in his hometown Detroit, Eminem channels his vintage Slim Shady persona to dish out rhymes about violence and mayhem. Controversial verses pepper the freestyle, but his ability to rap about these things throws back to the notion that battle rap is a no-holds-barred event. He name-drops Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Reese Witherspoon, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and more while proving he’s in an elite class of his own when it comes to dropping fiery bars.
Take a look at some of the bars we’ve decoded from Em’s lengthy “Kick Off.”
“Squashed in-between a brainwashing machine/Like an Islamic regime, a jihadist extreme radical/Suicide bomber that’s seeing/Ariana Grande sing her last song of the evening/And as the audience from the damn concert is leaving/Detonates the device strapped to his abdominal region/I’m not gonna finish that, for obvious reasons”
Here Eminem uses shock value to explain his thought process to his listeners. In the lines before this verse, he reveals he has no redeeming qualities and the positive thoughts he has are usually altered by evil. He goes on to say he was brainwashed and draws a parallel to the Islamic terrorist who detonated the bomb outside Manchester Arena while teens and their parents were exiting an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.
“And mention me in your raps if it makes you a buck/Or helps you rake in the duckets, I want payment in pub/'Cause I ain't tryna get in your bars like I'm waiting the club/But if you put me in your lines, I'm takin' a cut”
The rapper tells the competition to go ahead and put his name in their raps. He prefers them not to, but if it happens and they make money off it, he’s coming for his piece of the pie. Nightclubs usually have a long line to get in -- and an even longer line at the bar. Here, Em flips the idea saying he’s not trying to be in the bars of his competition. If they put him in their lines, he’s going to take a cut for the draw of his name.
“I can't even give a ‘yeah’ or a ‘woo’ when you rap in the booth/Not even a ‘nah’ or a ‘boo’/Cause even though I'm allergic to the crap that you spew/When I'm 'bout to break out, I don't mean get a rash from it too/Cause when I say I have allergies, I actually do/But that's just an analogy, I've never had a reaction to you”
Eminem takes some shots at mumble rap, using the ad libs these rappers lean on to describe how they can't inspire a reaction from him when they enter the booth. He likens their raps to allergy-inducing substances and runs with the analogy, saying that they couldn't even give him the reactionary equivalent of a rash because they're beneath him.
“Since the day Dre gave me beats, I was made elite/That's basically what makes me me/Creating stink, 'til these tats are fading ink/Who's the greatest? Think we're still debating, wink/ADD, and better put out an APB/'Cause it'll take LAPD and me layin' in the street/For you to see Shady beat/And I'll bet ya they'd need cleats/'Cause I'd have to be stomped by forty men to suffer a defeat”
Eminem has been considered by many to be the greatest rapper of all time and he underlines that point in this verse. He’ll take the greatest rapper of all time debate with a wink knowing he’s earned the title with Dre's co-sign. Em believes the only way he would ever face defeat would be at the hands of an armed force with a significant history of police brutality, like the LAPD -- and he even invokes their treatment of Rodney King in 1991.
“Keep feedin' me blank sheets/As soon as I sink these teeth/And I'm killin' the loose leaf/Time to shake these trees again/Wait, make that phrase repeat again/Killin' the loose leaf, shake these trees again/Get the rake, but it ain't me leavin' 'em”
On “Monster” off The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem called himself the “Bruce Lee of loose leaf,” referring to his adept writing skills. He keeps that going with “Kick Off" by asking for more paper ("blank sheets") to write the rap god verses ("killin’ the loose leaf") that’s defined his career. Em is going to continue shaking trees as long as leaves fall from them, which leads Em to the analogy that he’ll never stop writing rhymes or leave his fans by retiring.
“Get a million writers inside of a room combined in it/Try to get every idea of every possible line to spit/Every punchline, every combination that rhymes with it/Bitch, a whole team can't see me, there's no i's in it”
With this set of bars Em tells the competition to get numerous writers to pen some verses in order to compete with the Rap God. His verses are so godly though that not even a team of ghostwriters can touch him, even if they’ve wrote down every single verse possible. Em twists the phrase “there’s no I in team” to explain how a team of writers can’t see him due to their lack of vision.
“While you're tightening your grasp around the mic 'cause you done s--tted on it so much,/you're always reminded of your past/'Cause your heiny's sore, that's/'Cause you still haven't finished f--kin' wiping your ass/From the night before last”
Eminem feels that even though the competition tries their hardest to be the best, they still can’t amount to anything. They haven’t improved their skills at all and continuously choke -- or "s--t" -- on the mic.