Walk On Water
by Eminem (featuring Beyoncé)

Album: Revival (2017)
Charted: 7 14

Songfacts®:

  • With Beyoncé on the hook, Eminem comes down from the heavens to explain that he's just a man, not a god, and he cannot walk on water unless it's frozen. Eminem has never been shy about expressing his anxieties, but he's never questioned his skills or his legacy like he does here. The critics have clearly gotten to him:

    If you bitches are tryin'
    To strip me of my confidence
    Mission accomplished


    This is all accompanied by a soothing track of strings and piano.

    At the end of the song, Eminem snaps out of it, bringing in some old-school scratches as he blurts:

    I'm just a man
    But as long as I got a mic, I'm godlike
    So me and you are not alike
    Bitch, I wrote "Stan"
  • This was the first single from Revival, Eminem's ninth album.
  • Eminem named his 2009 album Relapse, a reference to his struggles with prescription drug abuse (he got hooked on painkillers). Throughout this song, he is heard writing and tearing off sheets of paper, which could be his lyrics, but could also represent a prescription drug pad. This motif was the basis of an elaborate promotional campaign that spoofed the ubiquitous advertisements for prescription drugs. A website, askaboutrevival.com, was set up, promising Revival as "proven to effectively treat people with Atrox Rithimus." On November 8, two days before the single dropped, Em tweeted a shot of a prescription for "Walk On Water" - take as needed.
  • Rick Rubin, who worked on Eminem's previous album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, produced this track.
  • The line, "The only one who's looking down on me that matters now's DeShaun" is a reference to Eminem's good friend Proof (DeShaun Holton), who was killed in 2006 at age 32.
  • Eminem's self-deprecating verses concern how his sense of identity lies in his rapping ability. He said:

    "It's a very mortal song. It's mortality, it's not being Superman. What if I can't come up with the best s--t I ever wrote every single time?"
  • It was Jay-Z who persuaded Beyoncé to feature on the track. During a chat on the premiere episode of producer Rick Rubin's podcast Broken Record, Eminem said that it was Hova who brought the two huge artists together. Speaking to co-host Malcom Gladwell he said:

    "Rick went to see Jay-Z, Beyoncé was out of town, and played him the song."

    Em added: "He liked it and she liked it, and he got her to sing the chorus."
  • Asked during a Sirius XM interview how the Beyoncé collaboration came together, Eminem replied:

    "It's been on my wish list for a long time, but I never really had a song that I felt like would be right to present to her. So, I was kinda waitin', and then me and Paul kicked the idea around after I finished it, you know. And based off what it was about, I felt like she probably could relate to this, too. Every song she puts out, every album is so calculated and precise. Everything is so perfect."
  • The song spent its first week on the Hot 100 at #14. It was Eminem's first lead single since 1998 not to debut in the Top 10.
  • Eminem performed this song on Saturday Night Live November 18, 2017, with Skylar Grey handling piano and hook vocals. At the end of the song, right after the line, "I wrote Stan," Em transitioned into "Stan," then "Love the Way You Lie." Grey proved quite versatile, handling parts originally done by Beyoncé, Dido and Rihanna. Grey co-wrote "Love The Way You Lie."
  • Adele was originally meant to be on the song. Speaking with This is 50, Mr. Porter, who produced three of the tracks on Revival and supplied backing vocals on this tune, said:

    "The first person I heard when I heard it was Adele. Right? I was like, 'Yo, this would be cool!' and I think some things could happen with her with her voice, and you know she couldn't do it. So it was a thing where we tried that... But then it got to them using Beyoncé. My mind was already there. There's only a couple people that could pull that off."
  • Complex commented to Eminem that his voice "sounded very intimate and very clear" on the track. He responded:

    "I think one of the things that makes the vocals come out so clear is it's a pretty bare track. It's just piano, really, and Skylar sent me that and I thought it was like... The chorus, as soon as I heard it, I felt like this is exactly what I'm feeling right now, so that was one of the things about it that struck me.

    We had debated on should we put a beat in there? Should we put drums in there? After I recorded it, I played it for Rick [Rubin] and then we had discussed it. We were both like, 'Nah, we should just leave it like this so you can understand, hear everything and maybe hopefully get it the first time you hear it.'"
  • Revival was Eminem's eighth straight album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200, making him the first artist ever to open at the summit with eight consecutive records.

Comments: 1

  • Meagan from LouisianaBasically what he is trying to say is that he is sorry for all the times he messed up and he is trying to makeup for it and i think he was trying to look for the right words to say that and he did that perfectly.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Early Days of MTV

Early Days of MTVFact or Fiction

If you can recall the days when MTV played videos, you know that there are lots of stories to tell. See if you can spot the real ones.

Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa CarltonSongwriter Interviews

The "A Thousand Miles" singer on what she thinks of her song being used in White Chicks and how she captured a song from a dream.

Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust

Lajon Witherspoon of SevendustSongwriter Interviews

The Sevendust frontman talks about the group's songwriting process, and how trips to the Murder Bar helped forge their latest album.

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"

Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"They're Playing My Song

Armed with a childhood spent devouring books, Mike Scott's heart was stolen by the punk rock scene of 1977. Not surprisingly, he would go on to become the most literate of rockers.

Penny Ford of Snap!

Penny Ford of Snap!Songwriter Interviews

The original voice of Snap!, this story is filled with angry drag queens, video impersonators and Chaka Khan.

Famous Singers' First Films

Famous Singers' First FilmsSong Writing

A look at the good (Diana Ross, Eminem), the bad (Madonna, Bob Dylan) and the peculiar (David Bowie, Michael Jackson) film debuts of superstar singers.