In an unorthodox move (but an appropriate one given the network’s largely young, straight male demographic), Eminem premiered the music video for “The Monster,” the fourth single from The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and his fourth collaboration with Rihanna, during ESPN’s countdown to the Baltimore-vs.-Detroit NFL game tonight. Directed by Rich Lee, who was at the helm of the Motor City native’s last video, “Rap God,” the clip was shot in Detroit and finds Em recreating scenes from some of his most iconic videos, including “My Name Is,” “The Way I Am,” and “Lose Yourself.” Rihanna, channeling Whitney Houston circa 1999 with a black bob, charcoal lipstick, and leather bomber jacket, plays Slim Shady’s therapist. At the start of the video, the Bring It On: All or Nothing star pops a tape into a VCR, the TV screen flashing words that ostensibly represent the rapper’s “monsters”: “violence,” “fame,” “addiction,” and so on. Reflection is, of course, a sign of maturity, and there’s one intriguing moment in which a shot of Eminem hugging Elton John during their duet at the Grammys in 2001 is juxtaposed with the lyric, “If one kid out of a hundred million who are going through a struggle feels it and relates, that’s great.” It’s unlikely, however, that this marks the christening of a new alter-ego: Marshall Mathers, LGBT crusader.
Currently the #1 song in the country, “The Monster” is Eminem’s fifth single to top the Billboard Hot 100, and his first since 2010’s “Love the Way You Lie,” which also featured Rihanna. Notching her 13th #1, the “Rockstar 101” singer has now eclipsed Madonna to become the female artist with the second most chart-toppers in the U.S. (behind Mariah Carey). Only the Beatles racked up that many #1 hits in such a short timespan, though Rihanna’s impressive feat warrants an asterisk, as she’s billed as a featured artist on three of her #1’s, including both Eminem collaborations.