Study Guide

Lose Yourself

Lose Yourself Introduction

In a Nutshell

At one time or another, every one of us has been the underdog, facing a challenge that seems insurmountable, given a task we're not expected to complete, or even racked with self-doubt when we just might succeed. Eminem's "Lose Yourself" is a dramatic, catchy, and inspirational song that conjures a take-no-prisoners attitude on seizing the moment. On the surface, the song is a plot summary of Eminem's movie, 8 Mile, and a meditation on his own journey to success, but the hypnotic chorus, directed at the listener, is a pump-you-up pep talk to get you out of that underdog mindset and ready for the gym, school, or work, with Eminem serving as your motivational speaker.

When "Lose Yourself" was released in 2002, U.S. audiences were ready for a song about standing up and taking charge of their own destinies. The terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, were still fresh in the minds of Americans; the War on Terror, until then a vague notion, was taking shape with the invasion of Afghanistan and a congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq War; and the economy was reeling from a recession that was heavily shaped by the crash of the dot-com boom.

The aim of "Lose Yourself" is personal motivation, though, not a call for global change. Maybe you queue up "Lose Yourself" on your playlist when you're studying for the SATs, or preparing for a big date, or worried about quantitative easing of U.S. currency by the Federal Reserve. It doesn’t matter; once that guitar begins to strum, the beat kicks in, and Em begins his monologue, it's enough to start bobbing your head and centering yourself, if only momentarily, and forget that you're surrounded by uncertainty.

About the Song

ArtistEminem
Year2002
LabelShady Aftermath Interscope Records
Writer(s)Eminem, Luis Resto, Jeff Bass
Producer(s)Eminem, Luis Resto, Jeff Bass
Musician(s)Eminem (vocals)
Learn to play
Album8 Mile (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)

Music Video

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Influences on Eminem

N.W.A.
Dr. Dre
2Pac
Beastie Boys
Kid Rock
Snoop Dogg
KRS-One
Nas
Notorious B.I.G

Influenced by Eminem

Ludacris
Lil' Wayne
50 Cent
D12
Obie Trice
The Game

Lose Yourself Resources

Books

Paul Edwards, How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC (2009)
Edwards' book is a compendium of interviews with the most influential hip-hop artists of all time, including Eminem. It delves into the technical details of their craft, but Edwards offsets the book's highly technical discussions of rhetoric and linguistics with plainspoken quotes from the artists describing how rhymes are generated, delivered, and transformed into songs and albums. 

Eminem, The Way I Am (2008)
The Way I Am is Eminem's personal account of his rise to fame and a commentary on his writing process. The book is written in a conversational style to keep the personal appeal Eminem infuses his songs with, but the book is less forthcoming about his personal relationships with his ex-wife and mother, which have been highly controversial over the years.

Albums

The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Eminem's debut album—the lyrics are quick, clear, and quirky, but also deep, dark, and disturbing. Eminem's voice is at its highest and most nasal, a sound not as prevalent on other albums.

The Marshal Mathers LP (2000)
Eminem creates continuity with the name theme of his albums. While The Slim Shady LP put him on a parental watchlist, The Marshall Mathers LP probably landed him on the hit list of every advocacy group on the planet. 

8 Mile Soundtrack (2002)
While Eminem took home the Oscar, he gets support from 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Obie Trice, Macy Gray, Nas, Rakim, and Gang Starr. The 50 Cent track "Wanksta" proved to be 50's breakout song.

The Eminem Show (2002)
Having been mired in personal and professional controversies, The Eminem Show is Em's first album to deal heavily with his status as a celebrity. Em takes a staunchly anti-celebrity stance and drops plenty of hints about his retirement from rap.

Encore (2004)
Despite the title, this wasn't the end. In classic Eminem fashion, he continues to rap about his ex-wife, his daughter, and even goes after former President George Bush on this album.

Relapse (2009)
After a few years out of the studio and a stint in rehab, Eminem released this album in 2009. Despite mixed reviews, it still did well with fans.

Recovery (2010)
While Eminem has proven himself to be a lyrical master, his writing grew to conform to largely the same format. However, it's also grown increasingly personal regarding Eminem's own struggle with drugs and suicidal tendencies. With Encore, Relapse, and Recovery, you'll find the same catchy beats, clever lyrics, emotional revelations, and non-sensical topics delivered by one of the strongest voices in rap.

Images

The Man Himself
A plain t-shirt wearing, bleach blonde Eminem near the time of his mainstream debut.

Eminem with Elton John
Eminem and Elton John after their 2001 performance of "Stan" at the Grammys.

Eminem with His Daughter
Eminem and his daughter Hailie.

Movies & TV

8 Mile (2002)
This is Eminem's debut acting performance. He plays a struggling white rapper from Detroit, and director Curtis Hanson gets a great performance out of a first-time actor and convincingly recreates the Detroit underground hip-hop scene in the mid-1990s.

The Slim Shady Show (2001)
A series of Internet videos from 2001 that follow Eminem and his alter-egos, Slim Shady, Marshal Mathers, and Ken Kaniff. Eminem did the voices for the primary characters, and the videos were later released on DVD.

Websites

Eminem's Official Website
This site is an excellent resource for his music videos and contains all the artist info basics.

Shady Records
Eminem's own record label is named after his Slim Shady alter ego.

Video & Audio

Eminem, "Lose Yourself"
Here's our song of the hour in all its Eminem glory.

"My Name Is" Music Video
Eminem's debut video that put him on the map.