The Continuing Influence Of Eminem After 20 Years

The Continuing Influence Of Eminem’s “Guilty Conscience” On Rappers Today

This week’s analysis is coming by request of our girl YASSAMAN, who asked if I could pretty please take a look at Nezi Momodu’s new song “Temper Temper.” You can hear it on SoundCloud here. This song is all about a revenge-fantasy that Nezi, a Texas A&M rapper who crushed it at this live cipher here, lives out on the people making her life harder: bosses, policemen, even fellow drivers. Now, Nezi isn’t at the superstar-famous level of most of the rappers I analyze here, like Eminem, but that doesn’t mean that she’s still not making use of the very same principles that make Eminem one of the greats!

In fact, if you know Eminem, then you’ll hear his fingerprints all over this track. As Yassaman pointed out in her email to me, this song is definitely indebted to Em’s earlier 1999 song “Guilty Conscience.” Right from the get-go, at 0:06, we hear a fake news narrator, explaining the current situation that Nezi is about to rap about: “This begins with a young girl stuck at her mother’s house after college…” This narrator comes back over and over throughout the article in order to move action along, just like the one in Eminem’s older song: “Meet Eddie, 23 years old. Fed up with life and the way things are going, he decides to rob a liquor store…”

Another huge influence of Eminem on Nezi can be seen in the extremely different deliveries that she uses over the course of a song. Everyone knows that “Eminem” is the low, heavy, gangster-type delivery of Marshall Mathers, while “Slim Shady” is the same man’s higher, whackier voice. But now, meet Nezi—her version of “Eminem”—and Becky—her version of “Slim Shady.” For example, at 0:58, Nezi turns her voice into a super high falsetto delivery in order to mock the character Becky, a driver on the road who she’s currently beating up: “Which exit are you taking, you can meet me in the parking lot!” She also imitates a policeman at 3:05: “Come out, we’ve got the place surrounded!”

There is one BIG difference between Eminem’s revenge fantasy and Nezi’s own one, though. And it’s that…SIKE! I’m not gonna spoil it like that, come on now! You’ll just have to flick forwards to 3:24 to hear it. I can say, though, that it’s an M–Night–Shyamalan–level twist, that really makes us rethink not just how “Temper Temper” relates to our own lives, but how “Guilty Conscience” relates to Eminem’s too.

We can hear this kind of update on older, legendary rap songs in other awesome songs too. One of my favorites is Mos Def’s new take on “Children’s Story” in 1999, which is an evolution of Slick Rick’s previous song with the same name. Mos Def’s rap on “Children’s Story” has all of the same rhyme vowels, rhyme schemes, rhyme placements, and verse lengths as Slick Rick’s 1986 version, but with completely new words in their place—that’s a damn small tightrope to be doing cartwheels like that on! Kanye’s “My Home” is another great example, being an update on Common’s “I Used To Love H.E.R.” But where Common describes a girl who’s a symbol for old school Hip Hop, Kanye describes a girl who’s a symbol for his hometown of Chicago. So now please just add to this list…Nezi’s “Temper Temper.”

Now, before we jump, there are also some pretty easy ways that this song could have been made 1000 times better—Nezi, I hope you’re listening, because this song could pop on radio if you do! The most obvious thing is for the mixing to be made way more primo – like the ATL rappers say, PAY YA DJ’S GIRL! Aside from that, she probably could’ve learned even more from Eminem. Eminem’s narrator voice, the one that shows up 3 times while introducing every new episode in the “Guilty Conscience” song, is highly involved with it. His interludes are actually always 8 bar longs, meaning that—even though the beat drops out during them—they are still a perfect part of the song. That next-level kind of tightly knit work is exactly what transformed Eminem from “The Infinite” in 1996 to “Slim Shady LP” in 1999.

In any event, it makes it pretty clear that—from the top to the bottom of the rap world, and every in between—Eminem is still making his voice heard. This should only make us all more and more excited for the reported upcoming release of a new album.

Martin Connor is a music teacher & writer from Philadelphia, PA, with a music degree of high distinction from Duke University who is currently studying for a master’s degree at Brandeis University in Boston, MA, while focusing his research on the vocal melodies of the rap genre. He has contributed freelance articles to HipHopDX, Complex, and Pigeons and Planes, and had multiple articles from his website, go viral on BET, The Source, XXL, and MTV. He teaches rap lessons online through the music school LessonFace, and has a book, The Artistry Of Rap Music, forthcoming from the McFarland Publishing House, scheduled for release in late 2017, as a follow-up to his 2014 contribution to their anthology "Eminem & Rap, Poetry, Race." He welcomes all comments, compliments, insults, and restaurant suggestions at [email protected].

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