Eminem fans were given plenty to get them through the weekend on Friday. In addition to dropping his new Beyoncé-assisted single "Walk on Water," Em joined producer Rick Rubin and journalist Malcolm Gladwell for the inaugural episode of the new Broken Record podcast.
During their nine-minute chat, Em and Rubin discussed the very personal themes at the center of the Revival single's lyrics and how new waves of hip-hop have left Shady feeling frustrated. "When you start out in your career, you have a blank canvas, so you can paint anywhere that you want because the shit ain't been painted on yet," Em, at around the 1:27 mark, said of the freedom of being an artist on the rise. "And then your second album comes out, and you paint a little more and you paint a little more by the time you get to your seventh and eighth album you've already painted all over it. There's nowhere else to paint."
For "Walk on Water," Em was influenced by both the pressure of divided fan expectations with each new release, as well as so-called "mumble rap." According to Rubin, Em first heard the chorus—written by co-producer Skylar Grey—by chance. Rubin and Em had just been discussing mumble rap, and the chorus words stuck with him. "For him, it's a little bit of culture shock because there's a new wave of hip-hop that's not really what he's about, so he was just talking to me about how that felt," Rubin said around the 3:50 mark. "I could see he was frustrated by it."
"It's a very mortal song," Em said at the 8:30 mark of his intentions for the track. "It's, you know, not being Superman, and what if I can't come up with the best shit I've ever wrote every single time?" Rubin, sensing that he might have "the same feelings" expressed in Em's verses, played Jay Z a rough version of the track prior to Beyoncé's involvement. He loved it.
The final version of "Walk on Water" was captured at Rubin's Shangri-La studio in Malibu, the coveted minimalist-friendly spot where pitch-perfect creations by everyone from Adele to Third Eye Blind have been recorded.
Eminem and Rick Rubin also discussed first rhymes, 2Pac, Ice-T, Beastie Boys, Frank Zappa, and more.
Check out the full conversation below.