For everyone who knows me, they know that I am currently obsessed with Eminem’s ‘Recovery’ album. Eminem has always been one of (if not) my favorite rappers. When I had no money at all I used to listen to ‘Rock Bottom’ on repeat while I was working out. Em has made a bunch of mistakes in his life but he is also the most successful artists of all time.
So his last two albums have been really disappointing to me. But the whole point of this post is to show you the lessons that you can learn from his ‘comeback’.
The reality is – he probably didn’t need a comeback. Eminem has sold over 80 Million records world-wide. That puts him up there with the best selling artists of all-time. He could have easily rested on his laurels and just went into retirement. But as any good Internet marketer knows, that is easier said than done. It seems like the ideal situation but after a few months you get antsy and want to start banging away again (whether it’s a new start-up, as an investor or even venturing into something completely different).
I talk to people from big agencies everyday who have become complacent. They know they have big clients and they think that they can just do just ‘enough’ to keep these clients happy. The reality is – they could probably do this for years but how does this help those clients or the industry as a whole?
Build back your credibility. Before Em released ‘Recovery’ he started doing songs with some of the best (and most popular) rappers in the world. He contributed to sick songs by Drake, Lil’ Wayne and people who were at the top of their game. Even with these songs, he would usually be the best part of each song.
Don’t be afraid to partner with people that can help you. You can’t do everything on your own. To me the stuff that Eminem did before this new album was the same as putting the best possible content on high profile blogs in your industry.
Even if you’re at the top, admit when you’ve put out something mediocre. One of the reoccurring themes of ‘Recovery’ is that he knows that his last two albums basically sucked. He admits this. Multiple times.
If your pride or ego prevents you from admitting that you didn’t perform your best work – you’re screwed. If you can’t admit that you’re not working as hard as you should be – you’re screwed. If you’re not doing your best work for your clients – THEY WILL LEAVE YOU.
Don’t be a hater. In the song, Talkin to Myself, Em admits that he was basically hating on guys like Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West & T.I. The reason? They were more popular than him and they were better than him at that point. He wanted to attack them but he luckily deep down, he knew that if he did, they would wreck him (due to the state he was in). “It isn’t them, it’s you, you fucking baby. Quit worrying about what they do and do Shady….”
This is probably one of the most prevalent problems in the Internet marketing industry and something that holds us all back. Somehow we have created a culture of jealousy. Competition is great but jealousy is destructive. Focus on yourself and what you & your company can do. Keep an eye on your competitors but move on from the jealousy bullshit….
Don’t Do the Same Stuff As Everyone Else. In the opening track Cold Wind Blows, he spits this line: “I put that on everything, like everyone does with auto-tune.” He’s talking about the growing trend in the music business for artists to use auto-tune to make themselves sound better. The thing with auto-tune is that yes – it can make you sound better. But it also makes you (1) the same as everyone else using it (2) masks your weaknesses (until someone calls you out).
There is a tendency for Internet marketers to ‘follow the herd’. Ask yourself – what makes you better than everyone else? What can you do that is better than your competitors? Focus on that. Don’t take the lazy route and use autotune.
Show Your Skills. It’s easy to say “I’m Back” but you need to convince people that you really are. In the song Won’t Back Down – Eminem goes OFF. He raps like there is no tomorrow. He’s at the top of his game and he knows it. People can’t touch the rhymes in this song.
It’s hard for Internet marketers to prove what they can really do because everyone always wants to have a competitive advantage (you don’t want to show your bag of tricks). But forget proving anything to other people. Be able to prove to yourself and to your company that you can kick ass and take names. Be able to back your stuff up in presentations, comments or when chatting with someone at the bar/pub.
Find the Right People to Partner With. One of the things that I loved about ‘Recovery’ was the fact that Eminem partnered up with a bunch of artists that I would never have expected. People like Lil’ Wayne, Pink, Rihanna and the little known Kobe. All of these collaborations work and many of them surprised people.
You can’t do everything on your own. Whether you are a solo warrior or someone from a big company – look for people that are going to complement your skills and can help make you better. Look for partnerships that can be mutually beneficial. This has been one of the most important lessons that I ever learned in my career.
Don’t Forget the People that Helped You (or Hurt You). On ‘No Love’ (which somehow uses one of the cheesiest songs of all time in hook and makes it work) Em and Weezy talk about the people who ‘kicked them when they were down’. But now people are begging them “don’t hurt me”. But at the end of the day – those people weren’t there for them – so they get “NO LOVE”.
There’s lots of people that are there for you when it’s convenient for them. But remember that part “when it’s convenient for them”. It has nothing to do with you. As soon as you slip – they’re going to do whatever to keep you down. Rise above them and don’t forget them. Be better than them.
Don’t Chase Fame for the Sake of Fame. On ‘Almost Famous’ Em talks about how he wanted to be famous so badly. This has been a recurring theme is so many of Eminem’s albums. He wanted to be famous and put everything above that but he found out that it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be. “I just want to be Famous, But, Be careful what you wish for….”
One of the biggest problems that I have noticed in the Internet marketing community is people putting ‘fame’ above anything else. People call other people out for no reason (other than just to gain attention). People post things on their blog that give away tactics that work (and as soon as they do – you can bet they never will work again). People speak at conferences on stuff they have no idea about. It goes on and on. A lot of times it seems like people will choose ‘fame’ (or recognition) instead of money or business success. It baffles me….
Obviously I have been listening to this album a lot and it struck a chord with me. Whether you love or hate Eminem (he has done a lot to justify both) – you can’t argue with the fact that he is a survivor and knows how to succeed. The parallels with this album and the industry that I so deeply love and respect amazed me and really helped teach me a few things. I hope this post did the same for you….