It’s that iconic duo together again: Eminem and Venom.
It’s that iconic duo together again: Eminem and Venom.

Pop CultureJanuary 17, 2019

An in-depth lyrical analysis Eminem’s theme song for the movie ‘Venom’

It’s that iconic duo together again: Eminem and Venom.
It’s that iconic duo together again: Eminem and Venom.

Last year, Marvel’s Venom came out and was a huge hit, and you can watch it on Lightbox right now. But the real killer? Eminem’s rap over the credits. Sam Brooks performs an in-depth lyrical analysis of ‘Venom’, the song.

First off: I have to declare my love for Venom, the film. It’s a bonkers good time. In a just world, Tom Hardy would be in the Best Actor race. I’m not even kidding, his performance as Eddie Brock and the symbiote Venom feels like it’s straight out of a 30s screwball film. It’s a really fun superhero movie, one that is perfectly content to be a really fun superhero movie and isn’t aiming at any put-upon darkness or thematic weight. It’s a popcorn fun good time.

But I’m not here to talk about Venom the film.

I’m here to talk about ‘Venom’, the song.

One of the things that got lost at the turn of the millennium was the over-credits rap song, with lyrics that related back to the film. The peak of this art form in LL Cool J’s magnum opus ‘Deepest Bluest’ from Deep Blue Sea:

In case you weren’t alive in the 90s, this is the song that starts off with the lyric: “Uh, my hat is like a shark’s fin.” Absolute genius.

Outside of the occasional Demi Adejuyigbe parody, this vital crossover between cinema and music has been lost. Until Venom/’Venom’ (which also happens to be a lyric in the song ‘Venom’).

‘Venom’ is by noted Mariah diss track victim Eminem, and it is a piece of Lynchian lyrical madness. The lyrics really deserve to be taken apart in music conservatories like Julliard, the Peabody Institute or the Conservatoire de Paris, but in lieu of them not taking up this task, I will do so for noted music commentary venue, The Spinoff dot co dot nz, with a significant amount of aid from the serious academic resource known as Genius.

To truly understand the song, you need to watch the film Venom, so I encourage you to do that before joining me on this road trip through this Proustian masterpiece. I have included the video for the song, but this is a wildly different piece of media than the song itself, and will use it only as a visual aid and not refer to it in any academic way (also it’s a bit scary and creeps me out):

First, we have the introduction:

“I got a song filled with shit for the strong-willed
When the world gives you a raw deal
Sets you off ’til you scream, “Piss off! Screw you!”
When it talks to you like you don’t belong
Or tells you you’re in the wrong field
When something’s in your mitochondrial
‘Cause it latched on to you, like—”

Like all truly great pieces of art, the song starts off by letting the audience know what it is. How else would I know that ‘Venom’ isn’t a painting? Or a sculpture? Or a piece of theatre? Thank you, Eminem.

The song also goes to lengths to relate to me, as a human being, by digging into my experience of the world giving me a raw deal, and then me screaming ‘Piss off! Screw you’ at the world. Coincidentally, I also find myself in fields in which I do not belong.

In another genius move, the introduction ends by layering the premise of the movie Venom into it. Venom is a mitochondrial symbiote which attaches itself to Eddie Brock, the protagonist of Venom, in order to survive.

From here we go into the first verse, which I’ll break into digestible parts just so we get the full impact of it:

“Knock knock, let the devil in
Malevolent as I’ve ever been, head is spinnin’
This medicine’s screamin’, “L-L-L-Let us in!”
L-L-L-Like a salad bowl, Edgar Allan Poe
Bedridden, shoulda been dead a long time ago”

In this excerpt, the devil in question is Venom.

In a move of genius, the reference to Edgar Allen Poe is a reference to both the famed author and the Edgar Allen Poe salad, hence the reference to ‘lettuce’, which is a homophone of ‘let us’.

At this point, I stop to consider the brain that brought us this, and I encourage you to do the same. Is Eminem writing from the point of view of Venom, the character, or from the point of view of someone afflicted with a Venom-like symbiote?

Let’s continue.

“Liquid Tylenol, gelatins, think my skeleton’s meltin’
Wicked, I get all high when I think I’ve smelled the scent
Of elephant manure—hell, I meant Kahlúa
Screw it, to hell with it, I went through hell with accelerants
And blew up my-my-myself again
Volkswagen, tailspin, bucket matches my pale skin
Mayo and went from Hellmann’s and being rail thin
Filet-o-Fish, Scribble Jam, Rap Olympics ’97 Freaknik”

There’s a lot of car accidents in the film Venom. That’s… pretty much it, really. Also, Eddie Brock might feel like Venom, the symbiote, is melting his skeleton and also his brain.

Eminem mistakes the scent of elephant manure with Kahlua, which also happens to rhyme. What simultaneous bad fortune for him as a smelling human being, and good fortune for him as a lyricist, being able to turn this nightmare situation into a suitable rhyme for his rap about an intergalactic parasite.

At the end of this segment, Eminem deteriorates into a set of gibberish – again, reflecting the headspace of a human who has had their mind and brain taken over by an intergalactic symbiote whose only focus is on claiming life.

“How can I be down? Me and Bizarre in Florida
Proof’s room slept on the floor of ‘da motel then
Dr. Dre said, “Hell yeah!”
And I got his stamp like a postcard, word to Mel-Man
And I know they’re gonna hate
But I don’t care, I barely can wait
To hit ’em with the snare and the bass
Square in the face, this fuckin’ world better prepare to get laced
Because they’re gonna taste my—”

In this verse, Eminem references his medical doctor, Dr. Dre. Ostensibly, this doctor is someone who might be able to help Eminem out of his Venom-induced psychosis, which has clearly led him to sleep “on the floor of da motel”.

This verse leads into the chorus, which ties in quite significantly to the film:

Venom, (I got that) adrenaline momentum
And I’m not knowin’ when I’m
Ever gonna slow up and I’m
Ready to snap any moment I’m
Thinkin’ it’s time to go get ’em
They ain’t gonna know what hit ’em
(W-W-When they get bit with the—)
Venom, (I got that) adrenaline momentum
And I’m not knowin’ when I’m
Ever gonna slow up and I’m
Ready to snap any moment I’m
Thinkin’ it’s time to go get ’em
They ain’t gonna know what hit ’em
(W-W-When they get bit with the—)

Venom, as you might have guessed, is the titular character from the film Venom (and therefore also the song ‘Venom’, keep up, students). In this chorus, Eminem describes what Venom does, as a character who has that “adrenaline momentum” (he moves real fast) and who is ready to “snap any moment” (he’s fairly unpredictable) and is the source of fear for many other characters in the film (he hits a lot of people in this film).

We move onto the second verse:

“I said knock knock, let the devil in
Shotgun p-p-pellets in the felt pen
Cocked, f*** around and catch a hot one
It-it’s evident I’m not done
V-Venomous, the thoughts spun
Like a web and you just caught in ’em
Held against your will like a hubcap or mud flap
Beat strangler attack”

As this is a serious academic essay, I have censored one word. If you’re fan of noted Dido collaborator Eminem, then you can probably guess which letters stand in for the asterisks.

This part of the verse references the actions that Venom is capable of like “beat strangler attack” and “shotgun p-p-pelletes in the felt pen”. Truly chilling.

The word “Venomous” is likely a reference to the nature of Venom, who is not a very nice person and literally poisons the minds of whomever he infects.

“So this ain’t gonna feel like a love tap
Eat painkiller pills, f*** up the track
Like, what’s her name’s at the wheel? Danica Patrick
Threw the car into reverse at the Indy, a nut crashin’
Into ya, the back of it just mangled steel
My Mustang and the Jeep Wrangler grill
With the front smashed, much as my rear fender, assassin
Slim be a combination of an actual kamikaze and Gandhi (Gandhi)
Translation, I will probably kill us both
When I end up backin’ into ya
You ain’t gonna be able to tell what the f***’s happenin’ to ya
When you’re bit with the—”

Danica Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of American racing. She plays no part in the film Venom, so P!nk collaborator Eminem is likely referencing her skill as a driver here.

A Mustang is a car, and the subject of famous Miss Congeniality song ‘Mustang Sally’. In this song, a man who can’t mind his own damn business, tells a woman nicknamed ‘Mustang Sally’ (because I’m assuming Mustang is not her given name, and Sally is not her family name) to slow her vehicle down. Obviously, Eminem is referencing the plight of Mustang and relating it to the plight of Venom, who is similarly plagued by men who can’t mind their own damn business.

Gandhi is the incredibly famous Indian activist who is known as the Father of the Nation. He also plays no part in the film Venom, as he is dead and likely had no affection for this particular arc in the Marvel comic books, despite its wild popularity.

This leads into the second chorus, which is identical to the first. You can read my analysis of the chorus by scrolling slightly up on your browser.

“I said knock knock, let the devil in
Alien, E-E-Elliott phone home
Ain’t no telling when this chokehold
On this game will end, I’m loco
Became a Symbiote, so
My fangs are in your throat, ho
You’re snake-bitten with my—venom
With the ballpoint pen I’m
Gun cocked, bump stock, double-aught, buckshot
Tire thumper, a garrote, tie a couple knots
Fired up and caught fire, juggernaut
Punk rock, bitch, it’s goin’ down like Yung Joc
‘Cause the Doc put me on like sunblock
Why the fuck not, you only get one shot”

I will quote the popular academic journal Genius regarding this part of the song:

“Here, Eminem expresses his belief that his music has a heavy influence on his listeners and enables him to control his fans, much like Venom invades and controls its hosts.”

To translate: Watch out Shakespeare, here comes noted Kathy Griffin collaborator Eminem.

In this verse, he references Doc, whom I assume to be PhD-holder Dr. Dre, putting him on like sunblock. As this is scientifically impossible, I assume this is a deployment of the creative writing technique ‘metaphor’ and that Dr. Dre is slathering himself with Eminem to protect him from the sun.

Groundbreaking stuff.

“Gun cocked, bump stock, double-aught, buckshot
Tire thumper, a garrote, tie a couple knots
Fired up and caught fire, juggernaut
Punk rock, bitch, it’s goin’ down like Yung Joc
‘Cause the Doc put me on like sunblock
Why the fuck not, you only get one shot
Ate shit ’til I can’t taste it
Chased it with straight liquor
Then paint thinner, then drank ’til I faint
And awake with a headache
And I take anything in rectangular shape”

Oh this bit is just absolute nonsense. As they say, bit with the venom-venom.

“‘Cause they’re chasin’ me but I’m part of you
So escapin’ me is impossible
I latch onto you like a—parasite
And I probably ruined your parents’ life
And your childhood too
‘Cause if I’m the music that y’all grew up on
I’m responsible for you [redacted] fools
I’m the super villain Dad and Mom was losin’ their marbles to
You marvel that? Eddie Brock is you
And I’m the suit, so call me—”

In the third verse, Eminem directly compares himself to the anti-villanous symbiote Venom, and the plot of the film Venom. He suggests that he ruined the life of my parents, which is quite a leap, and also ruined my childhood, and I would agree to an extent that the video for ‘Stan‘ traumatised me probably a little bit more than it should have, and it took Tori Amos’ triumphant cover of ‘Bonnie and Clyde ’97‘ to wash that bitter taste from my mouth.

With the word ‘marvel’, he is referencing the comic company Marvel, whence Venom was birthed, and with ‘Eddie Brock’, he is referencing the protagonist of Venom and tying it straight back into the film.

We go into the chorus, which is identical to the first and second chorus, because it is a chorus, and the song ends.

Thus concludes my deep, academic analysis, of the song ‘Venom’ by noted Adam Levine collaborator Eminem. It’s also worth noting that despite this being maybe the first rhyme that comes to one’s mind, Eminem never once rhymes Eminem with Venom.

Please stay tuned for my TED Talk on this subject, and go watch Venom. It’s so much fun, you guys.

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