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A Ringer Review of Eminem’s Song “The Ringer”

Great title, but is it a great tune? Here’s a closer look at the opening salvo from Slim Shady’s surprise album.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

The best-selling rapper of all time dropped a surprise album called Kamikaze just after midnight on Friday. Eminem fans were stunned and presumably delighted that he dropped another full-length project only eight months after his last one, Revival. Naturally, controversy soon followed: On Kamikaze, Eminem is dissing other rappers again, and is back to using homophobic slurs. Cue outrage. Those who’ve long moved on from Em’s antics noticed the social media clamor with detached bemusement.

But wait … what’s the name of that opening track? Well, I’ll be.

Just when it seemed like we’d finally cleared Johnny Knoxville’s 2005 film out of the SEO paint, in comes a new, fearsome challenger. What did we do to Eminem? Was he mad that we picked “The Constant” over “The Suitcase” for best TV episode? Or was this a tribute? If only the third track was called “Website.”

“The Ringer” is 1,423 words long—roughly the length of your average Ringer column. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the lyrics and assess which of them might be directed at us.

[SPOKEN INTRO]

Yeah, yo I’m just gonna write down my first thoughts and see where this takes me, ’cause I feel like I wanna punch the world in the fuckin’ face right now

This is good. Lean into your feelings, Em. That’s when the writing flows. OK, let’s get to the rappity-rap:

Yeah, let me explain just how to make greatness
Straight out the gate, I’m ’bout to break you down
Ain’t no mistakes allowed, but make no mistake I’m ’bout
To rape the alphabet, I may raise some brows
If I press the issue just to get the anger out (brrr)
Full magazine could take Staples out
Savage, but ain’t thinking ’bout no bank account
But bitch I’m off the chain like Kala Brown

Not about us. But Kala Brown? [Googles.] Oh. Kala Brown. Damn you and your ripped-from-the-headlines references, Slim Shady.

Motherfucker, shut the fuck up when I’m talkin’, lil’ bitch
I’m sorry, wait, what’s your talent? Oh, critiquin’
My talent? Oh, bitch, I don’t know who the fuck y’all are
To give a subpar bar, even have an opinion of you
You mention me, millions of views, attention in news
I mention you, lose-lose for me, win-win for you
Billions of views, your ten cents are two
Skim through the music to give shit reviews
To get clicks, but bitch, you just lit the fuse

Wow, I feel like he’s talking directly to me and my colleagues now. But the SEO on this post will only add to his own. It’s all so meta, bro.

Do you have any idea how much I hate this choppy flow
Everyone copies though? Probably no
Get this fuckin’ audio out my Audi yo, adios
I can see why people like Lil Yachty, but not me though
Not even dissin’, it just ain’t for me
All I am simply is just an emcee
Maybe “Stan” just isn’t your cup of tea
Maybe your cup’s full of syrup and lean
Maybe I need to stir up shit
Preferably shake the world up if it were up to me

We’re in agreeance here: Lil Boat has been a pretty divisive figure around these parts, too.

Paul wants me to chill, y’all want me to ill
I should eat a pill, probably I will
Old me kill the new me, watch him bleed to death
I breathe on the mirror, I don’t see my breath
Possibly I’m dead, I must be possessed
Like an evil spell, I’m E-V-I-L (evil, but spelled)
Jam a Crest white strip in the tip of my dick with an ice pick
Stick it in a vice grip, hang it on a spike fence
Bang it with a pipe wrench
While I take my ballsack and flick it like a light switch
Like vice president Mike Pence
Back up on my shit in a sidekick as I lay it on a spike strip

This section has nothing to do with us, but it does feature a Paul Rosenberg mention, a drug reference, a dash of horrorcore, a little masochistic genital mutilation, and the name of a politician—it’s like Eminem Mad-Libs.

’Cause I don’t know how I’m gonna get your mouths to shut
Now when it doesn’t matter what caliber I spit at
I’ll bet a hundred thousand bucks
You’ll just turn around and just be like, “Man, how the fuck
Sourpuss gonna get mad just ’cause his album sucks
And now he wants to take it out on us?” (ooh-ooh)

Hmmmm. Is it possible that Em read Justin Charity’s review of Revival?

I’m ’bout to bring it to anyone in this bitch who want it
I guess when you walk into BK you expect a Whopper
You can order a quarter pounder when you go to McDonald’s
But if you’re lookin’ to get a porterhouse you better go get Revival
But y’all are acting like I tried to serve you up a slider
Maybe the vocals should have been Auto-Tuned
And you would have bought it
But sayin’ I no longer got it
’Cause you missed the line and never caught it
’Cause it went over your head, because you’re too stupid to get it
’Cause you’re mentally retarded but pretend to be the smartest
With your expertise and knowledge, but you’ll never be an artist
And I’m harder on myself than you could ever be regardless
What I’ll never be is flawless, all I’ll ever be is honest

Let’s just pretend all of these lines are directed at Justin Charity. Time to get those bars up, Justin.

I don’t doze off, I don’t even nod to the beats
I don’t even close my fuckin’ eyes when I sneeze
“Aw, man! That BET cypher was weak, it was garbage
The Thing ain’t even orange—oh my God, that’s a reach!”

For the record—we liked that one.

But my beef is more media journalists
(Hold up, hold up, hold up…)
I said my beef is more meaty, a journalist
They can get a mouthful of flesh
And yes, I mean eating a penis
’Cause they been pannin’ my album to death
So I been givin’ the media fingers
Don’t wanna turn this to a counselling sesh
But they been puttin’ me through the ringer
So I ain’t ironin’ shit out with the press
But I just took this beat to the cleaners

And there it is: Eminem doesn’t like the media. So Eminem’s “The Ringer” has very little to do with Bill Simmons’s The Ringer, other than the fact Eminem doesn’t like being put “through the ringer” by media outlets like The Ringer. Cool. We’re all looking forward to the forthcoming B-side: “Binge Mode.”