Eminem's first two albums were released in 1999 and 2000. The Slim Shady LP and the Marshall Mathers LP were (and still are) some of the most influential and important rap albums of all time. They both remain widely viewed as classics. They are also extremely vulgar and violent, to say the least, with many songs painting Eminem as a deranged serial killer.
In 2013, 13 years after the release of the Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem released the Marshall Mathers LP 2, and the first song on this long-awaited sequel album is called “Bad Guy."
“Bad Guy” is 7 minutes and 14 seconds long and goes through several thematic and stylistic changes throughout its duration. It begins with a conversation between two people, one of whom is stalking the other with the intent to kill. Not personally my favorite subject matter, but also not surprising considering the subject matter of the first Marshall Mathers LP. As the song progresses, it is slowly revealed that Eminem's role in the story is as the victim, and the song is actually from the perspective of an anonymous fan who is mad at him for the provocative things he had said in his past. This twist recontextualizes the previous lines and adds meaning to lyrics which may have originally seemed like they were no more than shocking imagery.
“We’re in the car right now… here comes my favorite lyric: ‘I'm the bad guy why makes fun of people who die’.....”
I think that this choice was made as a way to reflect on and, possibly apologize for, his problematic past. Eminem has always seemed to be able to achieve a sore of catharsis through his violent songs, and I think that “Bad Guy” is Eminem allowing those who have been affected negatively by his music the same type of catharsis.
The story concludes after about 5 minutes and 12 seconds, with Eminem, indeed, dying, and the last 2 minutes and 2 seconds are a much more explicit self-critique and analysis, in which Eminem explicitly states that the killer in the story represents all of the people who have been negatively affected by his music.
I personally do not really love the subject matter of old Eminem, and I am not really all that interested in his more recent pop-leaning albums, but I think this song is kind of brilliant and more people should listen to it.