Upon first listen Eminem fans knew that a music video for his song “Headlights” would have to be a pretty special one if there was ever going to be one. Like the sequel title of his current album, implies, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is a collection of songs that are full of Em reflecting on themes that had been a large part of his persona in the past. No matter if it was continuing the story of Stan’s brother, Matthew in, “Bad Guy”, or addressing his previous feuds with Pop stars like *N Sync and the Backstreet Boys on “Evil Twin,” no topic of the past was off limits.
Perhaps the biggest and most sensitive of all the revisited topics on the album is the damaged relationship he has with his mother. This is the subject matter of the song “Headlights” featuring Nate Ruess of the band fun..” Like the other previously mentioned songs, Eminem takes on these personal issues with a more mature perspective. He not only uses the lyrics to say that he feels differently about his family issues, but also uses them in a sincere effort to try and apologies to his estranged mother.
Eminem’s problems with his mother were made very public when he attacked her on past songs like “My Name Is,” “Kill You, “ “Marshall Mathers,” and most famously, “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.”
“My Name Is”
From The Slim Shady LP
“Kill You” (Explicit)
From The Marshall Mathers LP
“Marshall Mathers” (Explicit)
From The Marshall Mathers LP
“Cleanin’ Out My Closet” was the second single released from Eminem’s third major label album, 2002’s, The Eminem Show. It was released during what is considered by many to be Eminem’s peak in Pop stardom, only 6 months before the release of the his semi-biographically inspired film, 8 Mile. As a result Emienem projected his family issues onto a worldwide stage, describing his abusive childhood. The song first addresses how his father abandoned him, followed by revealing how his mother had drug problems that led to him being a “victim of Münchausen syndrome.” The lyrics get even darker in the last verse when he says that he didn’t want his daughter to know his mother, and even saying to her“I am dead, dead to you as can be!
“Cleanin’ Out My Closet”
From The Eminem Show
It was without a doubt one of his first songs that had some emotional weight, and had a powerful impact on his career at the time. it gave his fans the first chance to look beyond his humorous “Slim Shady” alter ego, and get a peak into the darker, but brutally honest aspects of his life. His fans were really able to connect with the raw emotion poured into the song. It proved to be one of his most successful singles, breaking into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s biographical nature put his family issues further in the spotlight, when the song was used in the teaser trailer for his film, 8 Mile. The impact the song has had on his discography and overall image is undeniable.
8 Mile (2002 Teaser Trailer)
Imagine Entertainment/Universal Pictures
“I went in headfirst
Never thinking about who what I said hurt, in what verse
My mom probably got it the worst
The brunt of it, but as stubborn as we are
Did I take it too far?
“Cleaning Out My Closet” and all them other songs
But regardless I don’t hate you ’cause, Ma,
You’re still beautiful to me, ’cause you’re my mom”
In the third verse Em addresses the dark tale he told in the verses of “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.”
“Cause to this day we remain estranged and I hate it though
‘Cause you ain’t even get to witness your grand babies grow
But I’m sorry, Mama, for “Cleaning Out My Closet”, at the time I was angry
Rightfully maybe so, never meant that far to take it though,
’cause now I know it’s not your fault, and I’m not making jokes
That song I no longer play at shows and I cringe every time it’s on the radio
And I think of Nathan being placed in a home
And all the medicine you fed us
And how I just wanted you to taste your own,”
As he revisited those events from his past, he made it known that he clearly feels very different now.
“And I’m way too old to cry, that s*** is painful though
But, Ma, I forgive you, so does Nathan, yo
All you did, all you said, you did your best to raise us both
Foster care, that cross you bear, few may be as heavy as yours
But I love you, Debbie Mathers, “
Eminem Featuring Nate Ruess of fun.
From The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Like “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” before it the message in “Headlights” would be even more powerful with the proper visuals to support it. To help create those visuals Eminem recruited acclaimed film director, Spike Lee. Over the weekend Spike joined Eminm in his native Detroit Michigan to shoot the personal clip. The two posed for a photo on the set of the video.
The caption for the photo posted on Instagram teased the “Headlights” music video by simply saying “Spike came out to The D for the “Headlights” video… Coming soon.”
Lee is a director, writer, producer and actor. His films often are noticed for dealing with controversial social and political issues. Some of his most famous work include, Do The Right Thing, (1989) Jungle Fever, (1991) Malcom X, (1992) among many others. Lee has also directed some milestone music videos in Hip Hop history. Some of those include, “White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash, (1983) “Fight The Power” by Public Enemy, (1989) “Hip Hop Hooray” by Naughty By Nature (1993) among many others. Could Spike Lee’s talent help give Eminem what he needs to begin the healing process with his mother? We sure hope so! Good luck Em!