Most music videos are created to describe the picture of what the song lyrics say. In other words, music videos are meant to bring lyrics to life, pushing through messages that cannot be transmitted solely with words. Like many other videos, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem is a controversial one, revealing what the artist really thought when writing the song. Although for some music it might not seem the method to learn certain facts, this video is very explicit and it raises an important identity aspect that others cannot approach.
“Lose Yourself” was created in 2002 by Eminem as a part of the soundtrack for the movie “8 Mile”. The concept of this song and video is to reveal the true feelings of a rapper that prepares to go on a stage and perform for the first time. This moment is crucial for him and the viewers have to assist his identity crisis and private feelings. The very first lyrics of the song “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity/ To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment/ Would you capture it or just let it slip?” are meant to open the image of a young man who has a chance of doing something he has ever dreamt of. They are accompanied by the images of the rapper preparing himself in a public restroom, visibly anxious and worried of his performance.
With an artistic change of the scene, showing the camera zooming on the artist’s eye as if entering his mind, the viewer is thrown into what seems to be the inner feelings of the rapper. The lyrics and images make the viewer feel close to the rapper, almost rooting for his success on the stage. His sweaty palms, his weak knees, his heavy arms, these are all elements which show the fact that, although he had convinced himself of his strengths and skill, he is still nervous, agitated and scared of going on the stage.
As he gets on the stage and faces his opponent, he tries to hide his feelings in the attempt to conceal his identity and becomes ready “To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgetting/ What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud/ He opens his mouth, but the words won't come out/ He's chokin’, how everybody's chokin’ now/ The clock's run out, time's up over, bloah!” The strong vocal that accompanies the lyrics and images in this scene depicts the seriousness of the moment. The rapper is on the stage, facing his opponent, but it seems that he cannot find his words to comeback his lines. Even though he tried to bring himself to speak, he needs to “snap back to reality” and face the consequences of his stage fright. After this frustrating incident, all that is left is for him to go “back to the lab again” and try to find ways to be more secure with his skill.
The well known hook, “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment/ You own it, you better never let it go/ You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow/ This opportunity comes once in a lifetime”, contains the main idea of the song and video, describing the problematic aspect of identity. The rapper talks about what an artist, or any other person needs to do in order to be successful. In the case of the rapper, he needs to lose his identity and become one with his music, as this could be the only way he could be better than others. Furthermore, once an opportunity arises, one should always make the best of it, as it might never come again.
After the first part, when the artist tries to communicate to his listeners and viewers the fact that they should hold on to what they believe and do their best to blend in with their passion and take up any opportunity, the second part of the song becomes more morose. Due to all the pressure he received from the competitions, he feels that he is losing his identity and his love for what he does. This is a very problematic aspect of identity, because when one starts to feel as if he is losing a touch with himself and what he does, this person may become mentally unhealthy. This state of mind is exactly what Eminem tries to describe in the lyrics “Make me king, as we move toward a new world order/ A normal life is boring, but super stardom's close to post mortem.” The fact that he sees himself as a rap star and is not pleased with the image shows that his identity disturbance may be more serious than expected. During these lyrics, the video shows the artist strolling around a luxurious van, all alone, feeling like there is nothing to do anymore since he is famous.
Although initially he started from the idea of winning a rap competition and climbing higher on the ladder of success, now he comes to the conclusion that the life of a superstar “only grows harder, only grows hotter” and that “He's grown farther from home, he's no father/ He goes home and barely knows his own daughter.” The loneliness that has him wrapped all around adds to his identity crisis and makes this issue even more pungent. At this point, the directors used the artistic change of the scene again, this time through the eyes of the artist’s daughter who does not seem excited to see her father coming home from his tour. The next scene shows the artist trying to entertain an older version of his daughter, who seems to be bored with his foolish attempts to regain the time he had lost while promoting his work on tour.
Further on, right in the middle of the song, Eminem chose to write about the inevitable fate of a singer. He sang “But hold your nose cause here goes the cold water/ These hoes don't want him no mo’, he's cold product/ They moved on to the next schmoe who flows.” The question that remains is: Why did he choose to state this view here and not at the end of the song? Did he claim to foresee what the young rapper in the story of the video could not see? What he needed to describe here is the identity evolution of the artist in the beginning, showing him as an important artist with attitude and a private show. But is it all worth it? Does this identity crisis last or does the rapper know how to control his fate?
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The last part of the song describes the way the artist feels after he managed to reach a certain amount of fame. He says that, although he had “been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage”, he kept writing and performing as he believed that he had to pay for his expenses and those of his family. Furthermore, he reached a point where he realized, he needs to achieve more, as “these goddam food stamps don't buy diapers.” At this point, he realizes he has to overcome his identity crisis and think more about the consequences of his actions, as he has to come up with a plan to gain more money without getting into a trouble.
The very last lyric of the song is the moment when the viewers realize that the young, inexperienced artist in the beginning of the video can very well be the same one at the end of the song. The lyrics “So here I go it’s my shot/ Feet fail me not cause maybe the only opportunity that I got” and the images from the beginning of the video combine perfectly to show the fact that the identity crisis that was felt during the entire song was actually a loop created by Eminem to prove a point. In his mind, one should never let go his beliefs, no matter where he is on his way to success. This is a problem of identity that many people have, from singers and actors to lawyers and doctors. What he tries to communicate through this song and music video is that no one is too good and that one should always strive to do his best.
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To come to a conclusion, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem creates a vivid picture of a young artist going through a series of events over time, only to realize that the identity issues he had in the beginning haunted him all along, making him unable to find happiness in success. This is why he tries to encourage his fans to never let go their dreams and always try to achieve what they wish.