Drug Ballad

“Drug Ballad” is one of several songs from the Marshall Mathers LP Eminem has performed in front of us at his unforgettable show in Paris Bercy 2003. “Drug Ballad” lets you travel into the mind of a drug user. You can feel the sensations he gets through the rythm and the words. It’s like feeling words spinning around you. Words that are artistically expressed by a brilliant poet. The poetic value of “Drug Ballad” has been deeply analyzed on this website. Check it out:

http://literaryhigh.joeuser.com/articleComments.asp?AID=1383

To those who doubt it: yes, Eminem is a poet. And a brilliant one. Eminem manages to make you travel into his world through his imagination. I have read on some forums that Marshall Mathers cannot be considered a poet because he uses vulgar words. Nonsense! François Villon, Alain Bosquet and many other have done it before him. His poetry is street poetry. The streets needed a voice and have found it in Marshall Mathers. He describes things in their roughness and uglyness and I like his sense of realism that is also mixed up with imaginary things from the world of Slim Shady.

A young man, Dan , who was probably fed up with sugarcoated expressions has written this unfinished poem in 2000:

http://kelvin7.net/archives/danthill/2000/02/28/irony_in_the_key_of_vulgarity

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Fuck all this shit,
I just want you.
Fuck all these words,
It’s useless protocol,
That accomplishes not,
A single damn thing,
A single coveted smile,
A single stolen kiss,or
A profitable touch, while
Reading these lines.

You can find a lot of poetry in rap music. I’m not saying that Marshall Mathers is the only rapper to have lyrics that sound like poetry. I appreciate Saul Williams who is completely different from Eminem. But Eminem is original in his way of telling stories.

“Drug Ballad” is a ballad through Marshall’s mind. He expresses that he didn’t feel well in his skin and that he wanted to escape problems through his drug and alcohol abuse:

That’s the sound of a bottle when it’s hollow
When you swallow it all wollow and drown in your sorrow
And tomorrow you’re probably going to want to do it again
What’s a little spinal fluid between you and a friend? screw it
And what’s a little bit of alcohol poisoning?
And what’s a little fight?

It’s a strong addiction and it can’t be fixed, as the chorus expresses it well:

’cause every time I go to try to leave
Something keeps pullin’ on my sleeve
I don’t wanna, but I gotta stay
These drugs really got ahold of me

’cause every time I try to tell them no
They won’t let me ever let them go
I’m a sucka all I gotta say
These drugs really got ahold of me

Marshall is like a prisoner who cannot walk away. The temptation is big and the sensations are so good. He wants to be high all the time and escape to his problems.
Many poets have been confronted to addiction problems. There is no need to be shocked by it. Baudelaire often talked about drugs and alcohol. Ernest Downson, who is well know for his sympathy for absinthe has written an ode to the green liquid:

Absinthia Taetra
Green changed to white, emerald to opal; nothing was changed.
The man let the water trickle gently into his glass, and as the green clouded, a mist fell from his mind.
Then he drank opaline.
Memories and terrors beset him. The past tore after him like a panther and through the blackness of the present he saw the luminous tiger eyes of the things to be.
But he drank opaline.
And that obscure night of the soul, and the valley of humiliation, through which he stumbled, were forgotten. He saw blue vistas of undiscovered countries, high prospects and a quiet, caressing sea. The past shed its perfume over him, to-day held his hand as if it were a little child, and to-morrow shone like a white star: nothing was changed.
He drank opaline.
The man had known the obscure night of the soul, and lay even now in the valley of humiliation; and the tiger menace of the things to be was red in the skies. But for a little while he had forgotten.
Green changed to white, emerald to opal; nothing was changed.

While Ernest Dowson describes the beauty of the opaline, the Slim Shady LP and the Marshall Mathers LP have been written mostly under the unfluence of drugs like marijuana, ecstasy and mushrooms by Marshall. Both albums are very creative. “Drug Ballad” is a beautiful ode to drugs. Eminem makes you feel what he feels. His transformed perception of reality while he was taking drugs. He travelled to another universe:

Get in your car, start it, and start drivin’
Over the island and cause a 42 car pile-up
[em’s spaceman voice]earth calling, pilot to co-pilot
Look at the life on this planet, sir, no sign of it
All I can see is a bunch of smoke flyin’
And I’m so high that I might die if I go by it
Let me out of this place
I’m outta place
I’m in outer space
I’ve just vanished without a trace
I’m going to a pretty place now where the flowers grow
I’ll be back in an hour or so

Marshall never told you to do the same, though. Eminem has given up drugs since the time he was on probation. He has decided to stay sober for Hailie. Taking drugs or not is your decision. It is up to you to stay drug free. I have never drunk absinthe. But I love Ernest Dowson’s poem. Do you get my point?
Don’t worry: Eminem may heave given up drugs and alcohol, but his imagination and his creative skills you enjoyed in the Eminem Show will also please you in his next. His work has never disappointed me.

You don’t need drugs to travel with Marshall through his mind when he gets high. Just close your eyes and let the words spin around you and guide you through this beautiful song.”Drug Ballad”

[Girl] Yeaaah, hahahaha…whooooo, shit!
[Em] (aight)
[Eminem] Guess what? I ain’t coming in yet…
I’ll come in a minute
[Eminem] Ayo…This is my love song…it goes like this

[Eminem]
Back when Mark Walhberg was Marky Mark
This is how we used to make the party start
We used to mix Hen’ with Bacardi Dark
And when it, kicks in you can hardly talk
And by the, sixth gin you’re gonna probably crawl
And you’ll be, sick then and you’ll probably barf
And my pre-diction is you’re gonna probably fall
Either somewhere in the lobby or the hallway wall
And everything’s spinning
You’re beginin’ to think women
are swimming in pink linen again in the sink
Then in a couple of minutes that bottle of Guiness is finished
You are now allowed to officially slap bitches
You have the right to remain violent and start wilin’
Start a fight with the same guy that was smart eyin’ you
Get in your car, start it, and start drivin’
Over the island and cause a 42 car pile-up
[Em’s spaceman voice]Earth calling, pilot to co-pilot
Looking at the life on this planet, sir, no sign of it
All I can see is a bunch of smoke flyin’
And I’m so high that I might die if I go by it
Let me out of this place
I’m outta place
I’m in outer space
I’ve just vanished without a trace
I’m going to a pretty place now where the flowers grow
I’ll be back in an hour or so

[Chorus]

[Eminem]
‘Cause every time I go to try to leave
Something keeps pullin’ on my sleeve
I don’t wanna, but I gotta stay
These drugs really got ahold of me

‘Cause every time I try to tell them “no”
They won’t let me ever let them go
I’m a sucka all I gotta say
These drugs really got ahold of me

[Eminem]
In third grade, all I used to do
Was sniff glue through a tube and play rubix cube
17 years later I’m as Rude as Jude
Scheming on the first chick with the hugest boobs
I’ve got no game
And every face looks the same
They’ve got no name
So I don’t need game to play
I just say whatever I want to whoever I want
Whenever I want, wherever I want, however I want
However, I do show some respect to few
As ecstacy got me standing next to you
Getting sentimental as fuck spillin’ guts to you
We just met
But I think I’m in love with you
But you’re on it too
So you tell me you love me too
Wake up in the morning like “yo, what the fuck we do?”
I gotta go bitch
You know I have stuff to do
‘Cause if I get caught cheatin’ then I’m stuck with you
But in the long run
These drugs are probably going to catch up sooner or later
But fuck it, I’m on one
So let’s enjoy
Let the X destroy your spinal cord
So it’s not a straight line no more
‘Til we walk around looking like some wind-up dolls
Shit’s sticking out of our backs like a dinosaur
Shit, six hits won’t even get me high no more
So bye for now
I’m going to try to find some more

[Chorus]

[Eminem]
That’s the sound of a bottle when it’s hollow
When you swallow it all wollow and drown in your sorrow
And tomorrow you’re probably going to want to do it again
What’s a little spinal fluid between you and a friend? Screw it
And what’s a little bit of alcohol poisoning?
And what’s a little fight?
Tomorrow you’ll be boys again
It’s your life
Live it however you wanna
Marijuana is everywhere
Where was you brought up?
It don’t matter as long as you get where you’re going
‘Cause none of the shit is going to mean shit where we’re going
They tell you to stop, but you just sit there ignoring
Even though you wake up feeling like shit every morning
But you’re young
You’ve got a lot of drugs to do
Girls to screw
Parties to crash
Sucks to be you
If I could take it all back now, I wouldn’t
I would have did more shit that people said that I shouldn’t
But I’m all grown up now and upgraded and graduated
Did better drugs and updated
But I’ve still got a lot of growing up to do
I’ve still got a whole lot of throwing up to spew
But when it’s all said and done I’ll be 40
Before I know it with a 40 on the porch telling stories
With a bottle of Jack
Two grandkids in my lap
Babysitting for Hailie while Hailie’s out getting smashed

[Chorus 2x]
[Same as previous, but 2nd time the last line is repeated like this]

Drugs really got ahold of me
They really got ahold of me
‘Cause drugs really got ahold of me
They really got ahold of me