Guts Over Fear: A Review of Trolling

The frame makes the selfie…

September 4, 2014 (Seattle, WA) – I spent all day listening to Eminem’s latest single, “Guts Over Fear” on the Bloody gaming headset I picked up last weekend at PAX Prime.

I met a gaming journalist from Seattle who reviews PC accessories out an L.A. when I was covering E3 for Main Street. When I came out for PAX and the Cannabis Cup, he invited me over to his house one night, where we gossiped about video games and the industry for hours. It was a great time, and I traded one of the solar panels I was done with for a gaming mouse, headset, and mechanical keyboard.

Everything’s Shady

Nothing to see here, folks…

I wanted to test everything out, so I decided to play this song because it’s been on my mind a lot. Everything Eminem released this year has been on my mind, since that time that hip-hop journalist trolled me over my review of MMLP2 last November. I gave the album a second, third, and fourth chance on the road this summer, hoping maybe the excitement of a road trip would make it better, but I still wasn’t impressed.

Eminem fell into a pattern, pandering to his fans as opposed to showing us the introspective side of him that we fell in love with in the first place. The Huffington Post seemed to agree, because they picked up my review, and even let me rename it to highlight how Kendrick Lamar slayed a legend, matching his pace on his own song. The only critic to agree was from a punk music blog. I’m still a little sad my review wasn’t listed.

My second piece, declaring Lil Wayne the greatest rapper alive over Eminem, set the internet on fire. Hip-hop websites, blogs, and forums went ballistic. Even Reddit got in the fray. Apparently, despite all our years of supposedly integrated society, the misappropriation of black culture is still a hot button issue in this country.

Some nobody on the Huffington Post drawing comparisons between Eminem/Elvis and Lil Wayne/Chuck Berry makes people uncomfortable. Who in their right mind refers to Eminem as the Grateful Dead of rap?

The Fragile Artist

It wasn’t until Tech N9ne and K-Dot hit the airwaves with “Fragile” that I started to think about life through the eyes of Marshall Mathers. Artists are sensitive about their work – I constantly re-read things I wrote, or go back and rethink what I’ve released, check out comments, etc.

You’d be crazy to think artists and performers don’t still do that…and it appeared the rumbling of the blogosphere reached his ears, because the next verse he released held a lot of rage toward bloggers. Halfway through his verse on Busta Rhymes’s “Calm Down,” Eminem took square lyrical aim at those nobody bloggers with stupid opinions…

Me and Bus put it down like a sick pet
You’re fucking with vets dawg, fucking internet bloggers
“I sit in front of my computer all day and comment on
Everything, I’m an expert on everything, everything sucks, play the next song”
Guess if I hopped out your freaking laptop, you idiot prick
With Biggie and kicked the living shit out you, I’d be dead wrong
Son of God I’m the S.O.G. like a wet log, pores never get clogged
I’m so full of self-esteem that I sweat fog
Yes, yes y’all, steady on the left, y’all
Step off ‘forr you get stepped on, soft?

I found myself in a strange position, realizing I may have actually gotten under the skin of one of my childhood heroes the way stupid commenters on my blogs get under mine. I always wrote as though nobody was listening, but I suddenly realized what started out as a troll had actually changed the music I was listening to.

A Calmer Eminem


My biggest critique of both the album and Eminem as an artist was that Eminem can’t open his heart and express love without coming off as corny. I pleaded for his softer side in the face of angry music. Now, as I’m listening to “Guts Over Fear” for the umpteenth time while writing this, I actually feel connected to the artist in a way I hadn’t since I was a kid. The Rap God was listening to my prayers.

In “Guts Over Fear,” Eminem reveals that softer and more mature side. He skips the rage and instead, as he so eloquently acknowledges, self indulges over a song that could easily be called “Not Afraid 2.”

This is the Eminem I wanted to hear. We were robbed of seeing Biggie, 2Pac, and so many other artists mature into grown folks old enough to through reunion telethons on PBS. Having Eminem still alive longer so many great artists makes me crave better art from him, and it appears that through trolling, this nobody blogger may have had a hand in shaping one of the greatest artists of all time.

I just hope you bring your A game on this next album in November, Slim. You’re competing with people like Tech N9ne, Slug from Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Homeboy Sandman, Lil Wayne, K-Dot, Schoolboy Q, and so many others, for a lane in this game…you need a grand slam.

Brian Penny Versability whistleblower Anonymous tank top blue brownBrian Penny is a former Operations Manager and Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower. He’s a frequent contributor to The Street, Intuit’s Small Biz Resource Center, Cannabis Now, Hardcore Games, and Fast Company.


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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