Eminem, in his prime, was the most popular rapper in the world. Still, to this day, has the highest-ever selling hip hop record for his 2002 record The Eminem Show. Many say he had a ten-year stint lasting from 1999, when he released his first major label project, The Slim Shady LP, until 2009’s Relapse, which many fans see as a poor album.
However, regardless of what fans think, it is fair to say that Eminem (real name Marshall Mathers) has sold millions and has, arguably, been (musically) one of the most successful artists in hip hop. He has sold more albums than Kanye West and Jay-Z but does not have as many non-musical ventures. However, some of his tracks are still legendary over two decades after their release.
The Marshall Mathers LP was Eminem’s second album, and it was just as good as his The Slim Shady LP, if not better and cemented his place in hip hop. The album was a smash, and sold 1.78 million copies in its first week in the US alone and won Eminem a Grammy for ‘Best Rap Album’. Lead single, ‘The Real Slim Shady’, is one of the most legendary songs in hip hop, but not as legendary as the album’s third single, ‘Stan’.
‘Stan’ tells the story of a fan who is unhealthily obsessed with Eminem. The song details the contents of a piece of fan mail that ‘Stan’ wrote to Eminem before he took his own life. The fanmail details how he appreciated Eminem’s music and expresses how much he related to the negative things Eminem addressed in his music.
The letter details how Stan saw himself in Eminem because they had so much in common. ‘Stan’ expressed he was confused as to why Shady would not return his letters since their life stories were almost identical. For ‘Stan’, it was a matter of life or death that Mathers responded to since he felt that he was the only person in the world who could understand him and his struggles.
Eminem does respond to the letter but explains to ‘Stan’ that it’s unhealthy to put your idols on pedestals and that he should put himself on a pedestal. He continues to tell ‘Stan’ that getting to know the rapper is not as important as getting to know himself and fixing himself physically and mentally. Additionally, he also expresses that taking his music literally is dangerous and that part of it is humour, urging ‘Stan’ to lighten up and get help. However, while writing the reply, Eminem realises that he saw a man named Stan had killed himself in a news report and that he is tragically writing a letter to a dead person.
The song ‘Stan’ is legendary. You can listen to the acapella for the smash hit in the video below.