In 2002 I was driving to a hedge fund manager’s house to hopefully raise money from him. I was two hours late. This was pre-GPS and I had no cell phone. I was totally lost.

I kept playing over and over again “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

I was afraid this was my one shot and I was blowing it. I was even crying in my car. I was going broke and I felt this was my one chance. What a loser.

Finally I got there. The hedge fund manager was dressed all in pink. His house was enormous. Maybe 20,000 square feet. His cook served us a great meal. I had made him wait two hours to eat. And he had cancer at the time. I felt really bad.

Then we played chess and it was fun and he gave me a tour of the house. One room was just for toys made in 1848. He had a squash court inside the house.

Another room had weird artifacts like the handwritten notes from when Lennon and McCartney were first writing down the lyrics for “Hey Jude.”

Another was the official signed statement by Ted Kennedy in the police station after he reported the Chappaquiddick accident that may have ultimately played a part in his decision to not run for president.

Eventually I did raise money from this manager and it started a new life for me.

But that’s not why I bring up Eminem at all.

The song “Lose Yourself” is from the movie “8 Mile.” Although I recommend it, you don’t have to see it to understand what I am about to write. I’ll give you everything you need to know.

Eminem is a genius at sales and competition and he shows it in one scene in the movie.

A scene I will break down for you line by line so you will know everything there is to know about sales, cognitive bias, and defeating your competition.

First, here’s all you need to know about the movie.

Eminem plays a poor, no-collar, self-proclaimed “white trash” guy living in a trailer park. He’s beaten on, works crappy jobs, gets betrayed, etc. But he lives to rap and break out somehow.

In the first scene he is having a “battle” against another rapper and he chokes. He gives up without saying a word. He’s known throughout the movie as someone who chokes under pressure and he seems doomed for failure.

Until he chooses himself.

The scene I will show you and then break down is the final battle in the movie. He’s the only white guy and the entire audience is black. He’s up against the reigning champion that the audience loves.

He wins the battle and I will show you how. With his techniques you can go up against any competition.

First off, watch the scene (with lyrics) before and after my explanation.

Here is the scene:

8 Mile Papa Doc

Watch it right now.

Ok, let’s break it down. How did Eminem win so easily?

Setting aside his talent for a moment (assume both sides are equally talented), Eminem used a series of cognitive biases to win the battle.

The human brain was developed over the past 400,000 years. In fact, arguably, when the brain was used more to survive in nomadic situations, humans had higher IQs then they had today.

But one very important thing is that the brain developed many biases as short-cuts to survival.

For instance, a very common one is that we have a bias towards noticing negative news over positive news.

The reason is simple: if you were in the jungle and you saw a lion to your right and an apple tree to your left, you would best ignore the apple tree and run as fast as possible away from the lion.

This is called “negativity bias” and it’s the entire reason newspapers still survive by very explicitly exploiting this bias in humans.

We no longer need those short-cuts as much. There aren’t that many lions in the street. But the brain took 400,000 years to evolve and it’s only in the past 50 years maybe that we are relatively safe from most of the dangers that threatened earlier humans.

Our technology and ideas have evolved but our brains can’t evolve fast enough to keep up with them. Consequently, these biases are used in almost every sales campaign, business, marketing campaign, movie, news, relationship, everything.

Almost all of your interactions are dominated by biases, and understanding them is helpful when calling BS on your thoughts or the actions of others.

You have to learn how to reach past the signals from the brain and develop intuition and mastery over these biases.

1) In-group Bias

Notice Eminem’s first line: “Now everybody from the 313, put your mother-f*cking hands up and follow me”.

The 313 is the area code for Detroit. And not just Detroit. It’s for blue-collar Detroit where the entire audience, and Eminem, is from.

So he wipes away the outgroup bias that might be associated with his race and he changes the conversation to “who is in 313 and who is NOT in 313”.

2) Herd Behavior

He said, “put your hands up and follow me.” Everyone starts putting their hands up without thinking. So their brain tells them that they are doing this for rational reasons.

For instance, they are now following Eminem.


3) Availability Cascade

The brain has a tendency to believe things if they are repeated, regardless of whether or not they are true. This is called Availability Cascade.

Notice Eminem repeats his first line. After he does that he no longer needs to say “follow me.” He says, “look, look.”

He is setting up the next cognitive bias.

4) Distinction Bias Or Outgroup Bias 

Brains have a tendency to view two things as very different if they are evaluated at the same time as opposed to if they were evaluated separately.

Eminem wants his opponent “Papa Doc” to be evaluated right then as someone different from the group, even though the reality is they are all in the same group of friends with similar interests, etc.

Eminem says: “Now while he stands tough, notice that this man did not have his hands up.”

In other words, even though Papa Doc is black, like everyone in the audience, he is no longer “in the group” that Eminem has defined and commanded: the 313 group.

He has completely changed the conversation from race to area code.

5) Ambiguity Bias

He doesn’t refer to Papa Doc by name. He says “this man.” In other words, there’s “the 313 group” which we are all a part of in the audience and now there is this ambiguous man who is attempting to invade us.

Watch presidential campaign debates. A candidate will rarely refer to another candidate by name. Instead, he might say, “All of my opponents might think X, but we here know that Y is better”.

When the brain starts to view a person with ambiguity it gets confused and CAN’T MAKE CHOICES involving that ambiguity. So the person without ambiguity wins.

6) Credential Bias

Because the brain wants to take short cuts, it will look for information more from people with credentials or lineage than from people who come out of nowhere.

So, for instance, if one person was from Harvard and told you it was going to rain today and another random person told you it was going to be sunny today you might be more inclined to believe the person from Harvard.

Eminem does this subtly two lines later. He says, “one, two, three, and to the four.”

This is a direct line from Snoop Doggy Dogg’s first song with Dr. Dre, “Ain’t Nothin But a G Thing.” It is the first line in the song and perhaps one of the most well-known rap lines ever.

Eminem directly associates himself with well-known successful rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop when he uses that line.

He then uses Availability Cascade again by saying, “one Pac, two Pac, three Pac, four.” First, he’s using that one, two, three, and to the four again but this time with Pac, which refers to the rapper Tupac. So now he’s associated himself in this little battle in Detroit with three of the greatest rappers ever.

7) Ingroup/Outgroup

Eminem points to random people in the audience and says “You’re Pac, He’s Pac,” including them with himself in associating their lineages with these great rappers.

But then he points to his opponent, Papa Doc, makes a gesture like his head is being sliced off and says, “You’re Pac, NONE”. Meaning that Papa Doc has no lineage, no credibility, unlike Eminem and the audience.

8) Basic Direct Marketing: List The Objections Up Front

Any direct marketer or salesperson knows the next technique Eminem uses.

When you are selling a product, or yourself, or even going on a debate or convincing your kids to clean up their room, the person or group you are selling to is going to have easy objections.

They know those objections and you know those objections. If you don’t bring them up and they don’t bring them up then they will not buy your product.

If they bring it up before you, then it looks like you were hiding something and you just wasted a little of their time by forcing them to bring it up. So a great sales technique is to address all of the objections in advance.

Eminem’s next set of lines does this brilliantly.

He says, “I know everything he’s got to say against me.”

And then he just lists them one by one:

“I am white”
“I am a fuckin bum”
“I do live in a trailer with my mom”
“My boy, Future, is an Uncle Tom”
“I do have a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob who shot himself with his own gun”.
“I did get jumped by all six of you chumps”

And so on. He lists several more.

But at the end of the list, there’s no more criticism you can make of him. He’s addressed everything and dismissed them. In a rap battle, (or a sales pitch), if you address everything your opponent can say, he’s left with nothing to say.

When he has nothing to say, the audience, or the sales prospect, your date, your kids, whoever, will buy from you or listen to what you have to say.

Look at direct marketing letters you get in email. They all spend pages and pages addressing your concerns. This is one of the most important techniques in direct marketing.

9) Humor Bias

Eminem saves his best for last. “But I know Something About You” he says while staring at Papa Doc.

He sings it playfully, making it stand out and almost humorous. There is something called Humor Bias. People remember things that are stated humorously more than they remember serious things.

10) Extreme Outgroup

“You went to Cranbook.” And then Eminem turns to his “313 group” for emphasis as he explains what Cranbook is. “That’s a private school.”


There’s no way now the audience can be on Papa Doc’s side but Eminem makes the outgroup even larger. “His real name’s Clarence. And his parents have a real good marriage.”

BAM and BAM! Two more things that separate Papa Doc from the crowd. He’s a nerdy guy, who goes to a rich school, and his parents are together.

Unlike probably everyone in the audience, including Eminem. No wonder Papa Doc doesn’t live in the 313, which was originally stated somewhat humorously but is now proven without a doubt.

11) Credential bias (again)

Eminmen says, “There ain’t no such thing as”… and the audience chants with him because they know exactly what he is quoting from “Halfway Crooks!” a line from a song by Mobb Deep (I did their website back in 1998), another huge East Coast rap group. So now Eminem has established lineage between himself and both the West Coast and the East Coast.

And by using the audience to say “Halfway Crooks” we’re all in the same group again while “Clarence” goes back to his home with his parents at the end of the show.

12) Scarcity

The music stops, which means Eminem has to stop and let Papa Doc have his turn. But he doesn’t. He basically says “F*ck everybody”, “F*ck y’all if you doubt me.” “I don’t wanna win. I’m outtie.”

He makes himself scarce. After establishing total credibility with the audience he basically says he doesn’t want what they have to offer.

He reduces the supply of himself by saying he’s out of there. Maybe he will never come back. Reduce the supply of yourself while demand is going up and what happens? Basic economics. Value goes up.

He’s so thoroughly dominated the battle that now, in reversal to the beginning of the movie, Papa Doc chokes. He doesn’t quite choke, though. There’s nothing left to say. Eminem has said it all for him.

There’s no way Papa Doc can raise any “objections” because Eminem has already addressed them all. All he can do is defend himself, which will give him the appearance of being weak. And he’s so thoroughly not in the “313 Group” that there is no way to get back in there.

There’s simply nothing left to say. So Eminem wins the battle.

And what does Eminem do with his victory? He can do anything.

But he walks away from the entire subculture. He walks off at the end of the movie with no connection to what he fought for.

He’s going to Choose Himself to be successful and not rely on the small-time thinking in battles in Detroit.

He’s sold 220 million records worldwide. He discovered and produced 50 Cent who has sold hundreds of millions more (and is another example of “Choose Yourself” as Robert Greene so aptly describes in his book “The 50th Law”).

Doesn’t it seem silly to analyze a rap song for ideas how to be better at sales and communicating? I don’t know. You tell me. I’ve exposed myself so much in my blog posts. In fact, I don’t hit “Publish” on something unless I’m afraid of how people will react.

When you expose yourself there are many many ways for people to attack you. People will stab you and hurt you. But you can’t create art unless you show how unique you are while being inclusive with others who share your problems.

I’m still scared when I hit publish. But I love that final feeling of risk and fear. The rush. The carriage return. Click.


Update: Received the following email from Tucker Max who made a couple of points I want to include:

“James, this piece is great. That scene is literally my favorite scene in any movie ever, I know it backwards and forwards. But you missed two big lessons you could have put in: 

1. Emotional vulnerability: The final objection he lists is that Wink fucked his girlfriend. That’s the most humiliating thing any man can EVER admit–to being sexually humiliated. And he admits it, in front of a crowd. That sort of vulnerability is incredibly powerful, and it is the real turning point of that list of objections. Dude, you do that sort of thing all the time in your writing; be incredibly vulnerable. Like you, Eminem is not listing small things. He’s telling the crowd his worst pain, admitting to what no man will ever admit to. That opens them to up to accepting him and his faults, because they know he’s not bullshitting them. Unconsciously whats going on is that they are able to see their own pain because his is much greater, and his admission is so much more public. This sort of vulnerability, done right, is incredibly powerful. You skipped over that too fast. And it also sets up #2:

2. Courage in the face of failure: At the end of his list of objections, he says, “And I’m still standing here screaming fuck the Free World!” 

Free World is Papa Docs group, and they’ve systematically punked Eminem all movie, and one of them fucked his girlfriend. And now, after all of that, after the worst humiliation he could possibly suffer, he STILL has the courage to face them on stage. That is what wins the crowd, the turning point of the battle and the culmination of the movie. That moves him from the pathetic white guy into the role of underdog hero of the crowd, the underdog with courage, with real gameness, with real fight in him. Everyone wants to be a hero, and by being first vulnerable about his pain, then courageous in the face of his pain, that is what makes Eminem a hero to those people in this scene and this movie. “
  • James,
    Fascinating interpretation – I wonder if eminem has studied any of this discipline formally, or if he “knows” it intuitively through trial and error.

    One thing that strikes me that you didn’t mention – in order to do these things, he HAS to know his subject intimately. He knows that being “from the 313” means certain things – and knows their thinking so clearly that he can show how he is aligned with their thinking.

    He has heard the “voice of the customer” so clearly that he can say things that they think and feel and cannot even articulate clearly themselves.

    How, as marketers, do we immerse ourselves so deeply in our customer’s world that we know them deeply?

    • dspidero

      Watch them, study them, listen to them, be interested in them, learn from them, appreciated them, thank them. You will know them that way, and you will know what they want and how to give it to them.

    • Virginia

      He’s heard the voice of the customer because he “is” the customer. This was his way of proving that they are in the same tribe – even though he doesn’t look like their tribe.
      I think the best way to understand your customer is to empathize with them, understand what they want & need, and provide solutions to their pain points. On the other hand, we don’t always know what we need. For example, I needed Eminem never could have verbalized that before I found him.

  • eminem shifted the conversation to himself – and set up his opponent to speak – about eminem! Brilliant. “Tell these folks something they don’t know about me.”

    • Virginia

      Yes! He already said all the worst there was to know – the only thing left was the good stuff. Here’s the mic…be my guest.

  • dspidero

    Well James hot stuff. As a 56 year old white suburban mother who thinks Eminem (my cat’s name is Marshall LOL) is literally a genius, I have to say thank you for this analysis. I know it used to kill him that my demographic was fascinated by his talent, but I think he has matured and appreciates it now (or at least appreciates that someone like me buys the music–3 copies of Recovery alone). As a friend (a 60-year old prep school guy) said to me recently, it’s hard to believe so much talent got dropped into one head.

    PS I bet Ricardo appreciates your youtube

  • RichLo

    Great James! An academic definition of street cred.
    Love it.

  • Claudia Altucher

    Errrr… Kirby, I think you might want to read again because even though you are right and Eminem is a genius:

    a) He [James] did say ““I do have a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob who shot himself with his own gun”…I mean James says that in the post… Eminem said it too, in the song, meaning, they both did…


    b) He (James) did not mention that the so called “promoter” guy slept with his “girl” (Muprhy), in the post, because its more fun if YOU listen to it all, and notice he said a whole lot more than you would expect. In that respect James is a writer genius…

    I know, coming from his wife that sort of partially disqualifies me, then again, I think he is a genius.James, that is. And Eminem

    • Kirby

      nah I read it and just because he quoted the stuff about the wiener shooting didn’t mean he talked about it and Brittany Murphy was seriously smoking freaking hot in this movie so he could have gotten several paragraphs out of that maybe included some pics or a gif of when they do it in the factory. C+.

  • dshepburn

    This is an excellent post. You really captured everything. Just an FYI, it’s not “I’m outtie” but “I’m Audi” as in “I’m Audi 5000”

  • Anonymous

    This is hands down my favorite piece you’ve done. Kudos. Great movie. And great job relating it to real life. Thanks.

  • Michael Lyons

    This post was awesome. Two additions: (1) where Eminem lists all the “objections” he is also making damaging admissions* about the thing he is selling – his reputation. This increases the level of trust the audience’s gives to any claims that are made. Great sales technique. (*described in the direct marketing classic – Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz)

    (2) Eminem only makes ONE claim. If you watch the earlier rap battles in the movie (where most of the rhymes are sloppier and much less powerful) you’ll notice that the other rappers make MULTIPLE claims and attempt to show all the ways Eminem is inferior.

    Eminem instead focuses on only one thing – that Papa Doc is fake – and reinforces it in a bunch of different ways. If you watch any of Chris Rock’s bits (eg: women can’t go down in lifestyle) or read great direct marketing sales letters / ads you’ll see the same thing. A focus on one powerful premise which is reinforced / proven a dozen different ways.

  • Mick

    Great stuff.
    Had to dust off the Eminem and add to the ipod rotation.

  • Brilliant, James. Thank you.

  • Laurie Varga

    James, this is the most f#$%&*@ brilliant dissertation on the final battle ever written. You kick ass.

    Like someone else here mentioned, I need to add Eminem back to my running playlist.

  • Axel

    Really nice post, Thank you

  • Jen

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Awesome.

  • Cherry Scoth

    awesome .

  • Mindblowing. James, you really outdid yourself with this one

    I remember watching 8-mile like a decade ago and liking it, but little did I know that the rap had so subtle messages instead of just rhyming very well. Made me appreciate it more.

  • Dubem Menakaya

    This is why your my guy James – because you look at everything and you can see the beauty. This wasn’t just fun to read as 8 mile is my favourite movie (and I know all the words to EVERY battle in the movie), you broke it down in such a way I can take those lessons and apply them to my business and my life. Thanks as always!

  • Vesa

    Come on! A w e s o m e

  • me

    Such a terrific post.

    It’s good to see attention paid to this film. Curtis Hanson gets little attention, but to my thinking is as gifted a director who ever lived.

  • GetBetterDaily

    As someone from Detroit I always am asked about 8 mile when I am traveling other places. I suppose it is an attempt by people to relate, but this movie is always brought up. I enjoyed the movie, but talking about it all the time gets a little stale. James your analysis of the movie and finale scene is spot on. Thank you, I will now have something else to say to people when they ask me if I have ever been to 8 mile.

  • rogie ylagan

    so we’re listening to the same song during that period. I also saw the movie. Excellent post. One of my fave movies and this song Lose Yourself is still one of my life’s theme song.

    • rogie ylagan

      and thanks for sharing that 50th law book title. I read the 48 Laws book of R. Greene, and would love to read that one too. Eminem is indeed inspirational. He’s my college hero. :D

  • Matt Shafman

    Hey James, I really liked this post. One small point though, I think Eminem’s line “one pac, twopac…” is actually a reference to how all of the rappers in free world (papa doc’s group) were wannabe Tupac clones, which was really common in rap in the few years after Tupac’s death in 96. Eminem is saying that they’re all impostors.

    • Halon

      word dog!

  • Yeah… and that Chrysler 200 advert… Motor City pwned by Fiat… “This is what we do.” Couldn’t help it. Good article though James. Who doesn’t love a Sebring? – convertible even.

  • Jessica Cary

    This makes me love you even more, James Altucher. Both you + Eminem are some brilliant guys. Musicians and dancers are my greatest teachers right now. They show me all about the art of crafting a story, being tender + genuine + real (with myself / clients / products), + having fun along the way. I’m always inspired by them – and by you. Big love.

  • Sooz

    Brilliant!! It would be masterful if the real ‘Slim Shady’ read this and responded…Sheesh! You are both Amazing Artists.

  • maria@moneyprinciple

    It is a brilliant scene from a movie I like (and introduced my teen son to). You analysis is worth more than any MBA if knowledge and undertanding were the things most valued in that case (reputational bias of school). Thanks!

  • Ryan

    Technicality Police: The “Halfway Crooks” line the audience chants is from the song “Survival of the Fittest,”, which is the beat used in the final battle. Doesn’t change the message though – great post!

    • TB


      Although the line “Halfway Crooks” is used in Mobb Deep’s “Survival of the Fittest,” from their “Infamous” LP, it’s also used (repeatedly) in the lyrics of “Shook Ones (Part II),” –Mobb Deep’s most popular song to date. The beat used in the scene is also from “Shook Ones,” not “Survival of the Fittest,” although both songs use a piano in their hooks.

      Excellent post, BTW. Eminem is a lyrical genius and apparently, a marketing one as well.

  • DrewRL

    Such an excellent analysis James. Em’s very last line, “Tell these people something they don’t know about me”, is the perfect challenge and directive to Papa Doc to leave him speechless. Papa Doc *literally* can’t tell the audience anything about Em that Em himself hasn’t already said. He cannot answer the challenge. When you can’t answer the challenge in a rap battle, you lose.

    I love you even more now that I know you also love Eminem and are able to teach us about sales through his rap battles.

  • michael deathless

    This is one of your greats. Thanks for everything. My life is going really well and getting so much better every 6 months – just like you say…

  • fuqdisqus

    Very interesting analysis. I learned a great deal from it.
    I like that scene (and I like that movie) but now I can enjoy some different riffs on it.

  • Nick Badalamenti

    Maybe I’m showing my in-group bias(I was born in Detroit and lived there until 14), but this is a f’ing brilliant breakdown Altucher.

  • Ajay

    This is very interesting. I had like to know if the person who provided the update Tucker Max has a blog ? If so the address to his blog would be great.

  • Ben

    Simply awesome! Reminds me a bit of Tynans “Hustler´s MBA” ;)

  • I love that Eminem is given proper credit for his full scope of his genius. I am way too old and white to be as inspired as I am by him. Lose Yourself was huge in my life but also Relapse and Recovery had a major impact on me. I’m new to this blog but the few posts I’ve read have hit me right where I live. You’re like a younger better looking, more popular version of me. You’re final point “Courage in the face of Failure” is the most powerful for me.

  • Mike Jarvis

    I actually find that I don’t listen to much of Eminem’s music, but I do like a lot of Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery and anything else that is JAZZZZZY !

  • Michael

    This was awesome James.

  • karine bopp

    I really like this post, it is the first that i read from you and it clear my path. Thanks for sharing and I do understand these last sentences : scared of publishing !

  • Hooty

    Well JA, you ever thought about teaching – some classes to students??? (I’ll bet you could cook up a pretty wild/mean connection with your students! :) A++++ for your post!

    • Yeah, I kind of would like to do that actually. Thanks.

  • Karl Schuckert

    Wow I must say this is fantastic writing. You have an awesome gift and ability to brake down the framing of sales and the human psyche! Thank you for that!

  • Good analogy

  • TB

    I’d also like to add the not-so-subtle, but apt, reference to the Mobb Deep song, “Shook Ones (Part II) in Eminem’s bars. A “halfway crooks” is a fraud, someone that is a “wannabe thug,” a person who claims to be a crook but most likely has never even held a gun, much less fired one. “Shook” means the person is scared or a coward, and if you put this person in a real life violent scenario, that person would punk out. Below is a partial hook from the song.

    “Cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks
    Scared to death, scared to look, they shook.”

    In other words, you can’t be a half-ass or halfway thug; you either are one, or you’re not.

    So, Em’s reference to this line in his bars (see below) against Papa Doc was fitting because Papa Doc claimed to come from the streets, when in reality he came from a middle to upper middle class, intact family.

    “Cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks’
    He’s scared to death, he’s scared to look In his fucking yearbook
    Fuck Cranbrook”

    • Virginia

      I missed the “Shook Ones Pt II” intro the first time I saw 8 Mile. But proud to have caught it this time! & then happy to see such an intelligent discussion about both Eminem & Mobb Deep. My favorite line from Shook Ones Pt II: “Your simple words just don’t move me. Your minor. We’re Major. Your all up in the game & don’t deserve to be a playa”. My take is that when you’re too up in the game, that’s your achilles heel. When you have clarity, you change the game, & then the old rules are outie!

  • MrP

    Amazing analogy James, I couldn’t count the amount of times I’ve watched that battle but my ears have been opened to hear the underlying thoughts and strategy behind what is actually being said. Love your work. Thank you

  • What is fascinating is how we hummin’ beans will do anything to avoid reality.
    Even James, using that disgusting lower-order sub-culture called “Rap”, is in the same mental bog.
    There is nothing of value or of benefit to the real world of the real people literally trying to be human – in glorifying the emotional filth of this disgusting insult to decency.
    Having said all o’that:
    As usual, James has done his usual brilliant marketing job of focussing on the “Dark Side”. Where all the money is……
    As usual, he is right. We are genetically modified (as survivors) to focus on the potential danger, not the bright side.
    But it was only the development of “marketing/advertising” that accelerated the human condition from a state of at least 50% being positive, to today’s 99% negative.
    Ask yourself, what do you want for yourself?

    (Nobody ever says “just to be happy.”)

    • Operafaust

      What criteria do you use to designate a style of music as being a ‘lower-order sub-culture’?

      • Any style that (a) denigrates humans, particularly females, (b) is unintelligible to a normal civic human, (c) displays no skill or intelligence in construction of form, (c) illogical/nonsensical verse, particularly with no rhyming skill or continuity.
        Virtually anything that is today, “popular” with the lower-social structure: The mandatory 100 Decibel “music” and the demented shouting/screaming of uncivilised epithets.

        To be utterly clear:
        Music is not noise. No matter how loud.
        Music is combination sound designed to enhance the human state. Like poetry, which is the utter reverse of Rap, which has already reduced the human state publicly to that of the primitive savage.

  • Virginia

    Great Post. Don’t forget the overriding cognitive bias: “a pattern of deviation in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion.” Eminem used inferences to create cognitive bias in the audience.
    I do love that Eminem Chooses himself – and inspires us all to choose ourselves, too! As Seth Godin says, “Nobody’s going to pick you. Pick yourself.”

  • Kashyap

    Hey James! I’ve been following your blog for quite a few months, but it was this post that moved me to comment.

    8 mile is amongst my list of favourite movies, and as an MBA myself, I can totally get what you’re saying. There’s one more item in this scene which caught my attention. The first two times, Papa Doc’s group goes first and lose. Hence, in the final round, Papa Doc asks Eminem to go first. My hypothesis is that Papa Doc thinks Eminem is only good with comebacks, and going first he might choke (as he did in the beginning of the movie). But Eminem just deals one knock out punch after the other.

    Maybe there’s nothing to it, or maybe Eminem was playing his cards such that he could count on Papa Doc giving him the stage first. Another point on his impression management skills.

  • Parker Woodward

    Great piece. Keep hitting “Publish”!

  • Thanks for the post, James! I remember liking this movie a lot when it came out, even though I wasn’t a big hip-hop fan and was suspicious of Eminem’s mainstream success. The power of his delivery in that clip just brought tears to my eyes.

  • mrstimtebow

    Eminem was the first voice of the poor and white in the second half of the 20th century in music.
    Many, many people who “made it out” live in shame of being found out that they were ‘trash’.
    He is also the voice of a defiant generation of the ‘have nots’.

  • Radical Red

    Yo James…Mad Science Here Man…Mad!

  • lauren

    I am just a little curious, Would Eminem had one the battle if DOC had gone first.?


  • Tess de Marzo

    I so love this post and the comments trail. This late bloomer finally gets rap!

  • When I hear the early songs of Enminem, I get the feeling that he tells about authorities in the society that handles kids and teens in various ways, and make them their own property for power and proffit, and that this is something he experienced in high degree himself from early childhood. . The term “lose yourself” can easily be interpreted that a person does not belong to himself, but to the authorities, and that this is a something initiated allready in early childhood.

  • I enjoyed reading while simultaneously learning the entire purpose and method of your writing this article. Beautiful work.

  • This is the best thing I’ve read in a long time :)

  • Kanessa

    Nice break down, Mr. Altucher.

    Best Regards,

    -Kanessa (@thatdamnkanessa)