In a career housing more transparent moments than can possibly be counted on fingers and toes, Eminem’s most relatable may reside with his third verse on “Hailie’s Song” from 2003′s The Eminem Show.
Em, without question, is a megastar – the sort of celebrity only reserved for very few artists in history. Yet, the divide for Marshall’s music has been the most glaring throughout my years of listening to rap. He’s loved for the exact same reasons he’s “overrated.” The personality which spawned cult-like followings is viewed as a gimmick to others. Whatever the case, Marshall Mathers became an undeniable and irreplaceable cultural icon in the process.
Even in the divide, however, that third verse from the record dedicated to his daughter Hailie seems to have struck a chord with many. Perhaps it was the undeniable love for the life he helped bring into the world long before he became Slim Shady. And perhaps, it was the he-say/she-say civil war with his child’s mother who we came to know as Kim. Black, white, young, old, male, female, it’s a situation whose boundaries remain color and age-blind, despite what stereotypes portray.
Now look, I love my daughter more than life in itself
But I got a wife that’s determined to make my life living hell
But I handle it well, given the circumstances I’m dealt
So many chances man, it’s too bad, coulda had someone else
But the years that I’ve wasted is nothing to the tears that I’ve tasted
So here’s what I’m facing, three felonies, six years of probation
I’ve went to jail for this woman, I’ve been to bat for this woman
I’ve taken bats to people’s backs, bent over backwards for this woman
Man, I shoulda seen it coming, what’d I stick my penis up in?
Seen at many points in his career as a suicidal maniac who used that to fuel record sales and controversy, “Hailie’s Song” was different. It was more fatigue than anger; much more of a cry for help than the ultra-violent “Kim.”
I don’t have any kids, but I know co-parenting is a task. Through degrees of separation, I’ve seen friends who are no longer with their child’s other parent, doing their best to remain cordial. They realize the most important person is the one who never asked to be brought into the world in the first place. A task impossible to truly grasp no matter the court side seat unless I throw myself into the game. A task once described as, “The hardest balancing act ever not even Olympic gymnasts could appreciate.” And it’s a task Em captured in song almost perfectly.
Eminem – “Hailie’s Song”