Untouchable

Album: Revival (2017)
Charted: 73 86
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Here, Eminem delivers a furious six-minute treatise on police brutality, race relations, mass incarceration, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more. He compares and contrasts how white and black people are treated by society.
  • Slim Shady begins the two-part song by rapping from the perspective of a racist white police officer.

    Black boy, black boy, we ain't gonna lie to you
    Black boy, black boy, we don't like the sight of you
    Pull up on the side of you
    Window rolled down, 'profile'
    Then we wonder why we see this side of you


    Em ends the second verse by admitting "there have been times where it's been embarrassing to be a white boy." He then switches views on the second half of the track, to that of an African-American as he references Kaepernick's stand against police brutality during the National Anthem at NFL games, the death of Freddie Gray and numerous other infamous civil rights cases.
  • During the chorus, Eminem continues to address the topic of white privilege as he spits about feeling "untouchable" and like a "rock star" in his "cop car." The Detroit MC's vocals are intercut with interpolations from stoner duo Cheech & Chong's 1974 rock pastiche "Earache My Eye," whose riff is also sampled.

    Asked by Variety if he agrees with the sentiments in the song, Tommy Chong replied: "Totally, you sing about what you know, and he knows it. It's a good take. It shows you the meshing, how our cultures are getting so intertwined, they're not so separate, and it makes us stronger, like another strand of rope around it."
  • The song was produced by one of Eminem's longtime pals, Mr Porter. Denaun Porter started his career in the mid 1990s as an original member of Slim Shady's group D12 and also played a key part in making the Detroit MC's debut album, 1996's Infinite. Throughout his career Mr Porter has both produced and performed vocally, helming songs for many notable artists such as 50 Cent, Xzibit, Pharoahe Monch, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg and Royce Da 5'9". He reconnected with Eminem for Revival, supplying the instrumentation for three tracks. Porter told Complex the story of this song:

    "That was a collaboration effort, and the crazy part is…. Well, I can't tell you everything about this song, but [laughs] it was a collaborative effort. It started off with an idea Em had, and he's really good at that. Sometimes he'll have an idea and say, 'Oh, OK, let's just work this out.' So he brought this idea and was like, 'Yo, I always wanted to do this,' and he just built from there. And it turned into...we can come back to it at a later date. It's a really good story behind that song."
  • Eminem references the infamous Rodney King beating from 1991 in which King - a black taxi driver - was struck repeatedly by four white members of the LAPD after they pulled him over. The incident was videotaped and sparked outrage in the African American community.

    We done seen 'em beat Rodney King unconscious, and got off
    So we don't need all you crooked police officers' peace offerings


    King's middle daughter, Lora Dene King, penned a letter to Eminem thanking him for his bold takes on "Untouchable."

    "I decided to write this letter to Eminem because it takes heart to speak about this subject that so many people overlook," she told Billboard magazine. "I wrote it because his song gives people like myself hope. It's not just this song that inspires me [but] his music period! He speaks for the hurt that people sometimes suppress in order to deal with society. The details in this song let me know just how much he cares. I wanted him to know that I appreciate him writing it."
  • This is one of several songs on Revival where Eminem talks about race relations in the US. He told Complex:

    "I definitely want to reach people and hopefully be able to make people think. I feel like between the song by Joyner Lucas and the 'Untouchable' song, maybe we could get some ears and get people's attention and make them think - the ones who are not woke yet, I guess, to what the f--k is going on."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).

Weezer

WeezerFact or Fiction

Did Rivers Cuomo grow up on a commune? Why did they name their albums after colors? See how well you know your Weezer in this Fact or Fiction.

Motley Crue

Motley CrueFact or Fiction

Was Dr. Feelgood a dentist? Did the "Crüecifixion" really happen?

Brandi Carlile

Brandi CarlileSongwriter Interviews

As a 5-year-old, Brandi was writing lyrics to instrumental versions lullabies. She still puts her heart into her songs, including the one Elton John sings on.

Rock Revenge Songs

Rock Revenge SongsMusic Quiz

John Lennon, Paul Simon and Lynyrd Skynyrd are some of the artists who have written revenge songs. Do you know who they wrote them about?

Stephen Christian of Anberlin

Stephen Christian of AnberlinSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist for Anberlin breaks down "Impossible" and covers some tracks from their 2012 album Vital.