Why ‘Arose’ Is The Best Rap Song of 2017

Eminem’s new album crept out of the shadows and into the crowded trophy cabinet, almost automatically. He has reached a status in entertainment which means that, although his work still succumbs to scrutiny, there is a misty, majestic air of godliness about him which gives every project a gilt-edged advance before it has even reached a single Stan’s eardrum.

In this album he makes a suggestion that this might be his last album. If that’s true then in my opinion, his final song on his final album was the best. The song is called ‘Arose’, even the title itself requires praise because it’s a play on Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’ which forms a moving, emotional sample in the background of this track. The word ‘Arose’ also refers to a resurrection, a last hope given and a realisation followed by a re-emergence — all of these are fitting as the entire life of this track is set in a hospital bed where Marshall Mathers is close to drawing his last breath and the frantic regrets and remorses ravage his attention, he desperately clings onto existence while screaming out his guilt in a confessional sort of way. His tone feels panicked and hysterical as if he’s watching his own demise and is a part of the estranged mourners, it sounds as if he wanted to say these words many moons ago and now it’s too late.

I said Marshall Mathers, not Eminem, because he sounds bare-boned, revealed, unmasked, uncloaked and it is awesomely emotional to listen to. The epic Bette Midler backing melody carries the song off as if in a coffin toward the horizon while Mathers’ soul screams out its final soliloquy. You can almost see the end credits rolling with melancholy raining all over the scene; great big snares and bass drums smacking with each drop. This is Marshall Mathers more than it is Eminem; there are no comical accents, no hyperbole, no attacks or outlandish aggression addressed current affairs foes.

No hook and no chorus were necessary for this final farewell, this epitaph, agonising eulogy written by the deceased himself. In a genre currently filled to the high-tops with junk, drugs, clownery (three things, admittedly, which Eminem has been a source of himself in the past) — it’s so refreshing to hear something so detailed and deep, so drenched in naked truth and raw emotion. You can hear his voice catching from time to time and it’s almost impossible to not be stirred up as the privileged listener. Mathers mentions and directly addresses people in his life from the past and now, an unusually relentlessly open-wound style public letter stabbing straight at the most painful and precious parts of his life from the late Proof to his enshrined daughter Hailie. Once more I feel indebted to an artist who has given so much over the last two decades yet continues to deliver art in its rawest, truest form.

It’s rare to hear Eminem portray helplessness, even a forlorn sort of humility. Usually there’s venom alongside it, a point of offense, a joke, a protest, a fight. This is a very special piece of artistry from a veteran, a stanchion of his field and I would have given anything to witness this being recorded in that booth. Give it a listen and see if it doesn’t stop you in your tracks and hold your attention like only a cold Eminem hand can.