Eminem‘s daughter Hailie Jade Scott has served as the rapper’s muse throughout much of his career, lighting the inner fire that elevated him from a dishwasher on the outskirts of Detroit to one of the biggest musical forces of a generation. More than just motivation, his daughter has provided lyrical inspiration, and even a guest verse or two over the years. Though relations have occasionally been strained between Eminem and Hailie’s mother, Kim Scott—as evidenced in a number of his songs—his bond with Hailie has never wavered.
Here are all the times that Em has shouted out his little girl on wax. (Warning: explicit language and lyrics below.)
“97 Bonnie and Clyde” (Slim Shady EP, 1998)
A murderous ode to his on-again-off-again relationship, “97 Bonnie and Clyde” brings father and daughter together to dispose of Scott’s dead body in the ocean. For extra authenticity, Eminem brought Hailie to the studio to record a vocal part for the track. “I lied to Kim and told her I was taking Hailie to Chuck E. Cheese that day,” he remembered in Rolling Stone. “But I took her to the studio. When she found out I used our daughter to write a song about killing her, she f—ing blew. We had just got back together for a couple of weeks. Then I played her the song, and she bugged the f— out.”
C’mon Hai-Hai, we going to the beach
Grab a couple of toys and let Dada strap you in the car seat
Oh, where’s Mama? She’s taking a little nap in the trunk
Oh, that smell? Dada must’ve runned over a skunk
Now, I know what you’re thinking It’s kind of late to go swimmin’
But you know your Mama, she’s one of those type of women
That do crazy things And if she don’t get her way, she’ll throw a fit
Don’t play with Dada’s toy knife, honey, let go of it!
“Kim” (The Marshall Mathers LP, 2000)
Composed as a backstory to “97 Bonnie and Clyde,” Eminem makes the titular target of his ire painfully clear in the graphic violence of the verses. “I wrote this song when Kim and I weren’t together,” he wrote in the book Angry Blonde. “We were broken up at the time. This was the end of ‘98. I remember I was watching a movie one day that inspired me to write a love song, but I didn’t want to make a corny love song. It had to be some bugged-out s—. Though I don’t remember what movie it was, I do remember feeling the frustration of us breaking up and having a daughter all in the mix. I really wanted to pour my heart out, but yet I wanted to scream. So the same day I went to the flick, I went back to the studio and once again walked into a session with the perfect beat already playing. When I started writing the song I thought that maybe I could tie it into ‘97 Bonnie and Clyde’. So I decided to make it a prequel.”
As in the companion song, Hailie plays a prominent role. Eminem begins by tucking his 2-year-old daughter into bed before unleashing a torrent of violence against the woman he fears will take the girl away.
Aww look at daddy’s baby girl
That’s daddy’s baby
Little sleepy head
Yesterday I changed your diaper
Wiped you and powdered you.
How did you get so big?
Can’t believe it now you’re 2
Baby, you’re so precious
Daddy’s so proud of you
Sit down, bitch
If you move again I’ll beat the s— out of you
“The Way I Am” (The Marshall Mathers LP, 2000)
Eminem’s fear of the mass adulation he received after the success of 1999’s The Slim Shady LP became a frequent topic in his lyrics. He famously explored the theme on his tour de force, “Stan,” but lines on “The Way I Am” brought the constant fan intrusions closer to home.
Dispensing these sentences, getting this stress
That’s been eating me recently off of this chest
And I rest again peacefully
But at least have the decency in you
To leave me alone, when you freaks see me out
In the streets when I’m eating or feeding my daughter
To not come and speak to me
I don’t know you, and no, I don’t owe you a mothaf–k-n’ thing
I’m not Mr. ‘NSYNC, I’m not what your friends think
I’m not Mr. Friendly, I can be a prick if you tempt me
My tank is on empty, no patience is in me
And if you offend me, I’m lifting you 10 feet in the air
“Hailie’s Song” (The Eminem Show, 2002)
As his star status began to rise and his relationship with Scott deteriorated, Eminem credited Hailie as being the main stabilizing force in his life. These verses for his daughter, then 7 years old, rank among the most tender and heartfelt that he ever wrote.
My baby girl keeps getting older
I watch her grow up with pride
People make jokes, ‘cause they don’t understand me
They just don’t see my real side
I act like s— don’t faze me
Inside it drives me crazy
My insecurities could eat me alive
But then I see my baby
Suddenly I’m not crazy
It all makes sense when I look into her eyes
And now it don’t feel like the world’s on my shoulders
Everyone’s leaning on me
‘Cause my baby knows that her daddy’s a soldier
Nothing can take her from me
“My Dad’s Gone Crazy” (The Eminem Show, 2002)
In a 2004 interview with Rolling Stone, Eminem revealed that his daughter came up with the song’s infectious hook (and title) herself during a visit to the recording studio. “Me and [Dr.] Dre were working together, and Hailie was running around the studio and she was like, ‘Somebody please help me! I think my dad’s gone crazy!’ Instantly that locked in with a beat we’d made the day before. I had her go in the booth and say it. When she opens up, she’s just like her dad in a lot of aspects. I just told her what to say and she nailed it, the first take.”
Hailie: Daddy, what are you doing? Okay then! Everybody, listen up!
Eminem: I’m going to hell! Who’s coming with me?
Hailie: Somebody, please help him! I think my dad’s gone crazy!
“Cleaning Out My Closet” (The Eminem Show, 2002)
An exorcism of the many skeletons in his closet, the second single from The Eminem Show finds the rapper examining the tempestuous relationship with his mother, Debbie Nelson. Effectively abandoned by his father, it was Nelson who raised the young MC, but memories of past abuses—real or imagined—fueled this incendiary track. The lyrics directed at his mother were so vicious, he later apologized on 2013’s “Headlights.”
And Hailie’s gettin’ so big now
You should see her, she’s beautiful
But you’ll never see her—she won’t even be at your funeral!
“Superman” (The Eminem Show, 2002)
Wary of his status as a world-renowned star, Eminem’a guard was permanently up to ward off worshipers and those who might want to use him for financial gain. In “Superman,” he imitates women who try to win his favor by complimenting his daughter, whose name is prominently tattooed on his arm.
First thing you say: I’m not fazed I hang around big stars all day
I don’t see what the big deal is anyway
You’re just plain old Marshall to me
Ooh yeah, girl, run that game
Hailie Jade, I love that name
“Say Goodbye Hollywood” (The Eminem Show, 2002)
Eminem credits Hailie as the motivating force behind his art, but ultimately the long hours required of a rap titan took him further from his beloved daughter than he would have liked. The lyrics scan as a cautionary tale, warning listeners to be careful what they wish for.
Imagine going from being a no one
To seeing everything blow up
And all you did was just grow up emceeing
It’s f—ing crazy, ‘cause all I wanted was to give Hailie
The life I never had
Instead I forced us to live alienated
“Hailie’s Revenge (Doe Rae Me)” (Straight from the Lab, 2003)
The intro for this cut from his 2002 mixtape includes a pointed rebuttal to Ja Rule, who questioned Eminem’s parenting skills on the 2002 diss track “Loose Change” by rapping, “…Kim’s a known slut, what’s Hailie gon’ be when she grows up?” Take home lesson? You don’t mess with Slim’s little girl.
Eminem: Hailie, what do you want to be when you grow up, baby?
Hailie: I don’t know, but I don’t want to Grow up to be like Ja Rule’s little dirty-ass kids
Eminem: Hailie, come here, baby! Bring Daddy his Oscar! We’re gonna shove it up Ja Rule’s ass
“Crazy in Love” (Encore, 2004)
It’s title an ironic nod to the Beyoncé and Jay Z super-smash from the previous year, “Crazy In Love” features Em crooning his way through the supremely dysfunctional relationship with his ex-wife/future wife. Though quick to point out her shortcomings (“They say that every man grows up to marry his own mother/Which would explain why you’re such a motherf—in’ bitch”) he admits that Scott is “the Kim to my Marshall/the Slim to my Shady/the Dre to my Eminem/the Alaina to my Hailie.” The last line is a reference to Eminem and Scott’s niece, whom they adopted as a daughter.
“Like Toy Soldiers” (Encore, 2004)
Em makes a plea for peace in the hip-hop community, and in doing so recognizes his extensive history of rap beefs. He does his best to explain his differences with 50 Cent, The Source magazine, Murder Inc., and Ja Rule. In the case of the latter, he blames their bad blood on Ja badmouthing his little girl on “Loose Change.” Still, at the end of the track, he offers a truce.
That Ja s—, I tried to squash it
It was too late to stop it
There’s a certain line you just don’t cross, and he crossed it
I heard him say Hailie’s name on a song
And I just lost it it was crazy
The s— went way beyond some Jay Z and Nas s—
And even though the battle is won, I feel like we lost it
I spent so much energy on it, honestly I’m exhausted
“Mockingbird” (Encore, 2004)
For years, Eminem remained haunted by the memory of losing his job at Gilbert’s Lodge restaurant just before Christmas—which also happened to be Hailie’s birthday. “That was the worst time ever, dog,” he told Rolling Stone in 1999. “I had, like, 40 dollars to get her something.” He recounts the sorry tale in “Mockingbird,” doing his best to comfort his daughter with financial stability—even if it won’t ease their tumultuous family life.
Hailie, I know you miss your mom
And I know you miss your dad when I’m gone
But I’m tryin’ to give you the life that I never had
I can see you’re sad
Even when you smile, even when you laugh
I can see it in your eyes, deep inside you wanna cry
‘Cause you’re scared, I ain’t there
Daddy’s with you in your prayers
No more crying, wipe them tears
Daddy’s here, no more nightmares
We gon’ pull together through it, we gon’ do it
“When I’m Gone” (Curtain Call: The Hits, 2005)
A farewell to fans immediately prior to his extended hiatus from music (he would be back just over three years later with 2009’s Relapse), the song offers an intimate and heartfelt look at his relationship with Hailie. Reflecting on his regrets as a parent, it offers fans a compelling reason as to why he would want to step back from the spotlight.
Have you ever loved someone so much, you’d give an arm for?
Not the expression, no, literally give an arm for?
When they know they’re your heart
And you know you were their armor
And you will destroy anyone who would try to harm her
But what happens when karma
Turns right around and bites you?
And everything you stand for turns on you to spite you?
What happens when you become the main source of her pain?
“Daddy, look what I made!” Dad’s gotta go catch a plane
“Daddy, where’s Mommy? I can’t find Mommy, where is she?”
I don’t know, go play, Hailie, baby, your daddy’s busy
Daddy’s writing a song, this song ain’t gon’ write itself
I’ll give you one underdog, then you gotta swing by yourself
Then turn right around on that song and tell her you love her
And put hands on her mother who’s a spitting image of her
That’s Slim Shady, yeah, baby, Slim Shady’s crazy
Shady made me, but tonight Shady’s rocka-by-baby
“Déjà Vu” (Relapse, 2009)
Written during a personal crisis in the mid-2000s as he struggled with prescription drug addition, weight gain and the death of his friend and fellow rapper Proof, Eminem took a verse to imitate Hailie observing him at his lowest. “Honestly, I never really put the mic down. The problem was…that I had a pretty bad drug problem,” he told Observer Music Monthly in May 2009. “I was messing with Valium, Vicodin, Ambien and anything to [help me to] sleep. Basically I’d take Vicodin to get me through my day.”
Mommy, something is wrong with Dad, I think,
He’s acting weird again, he’s really beginning to scare me,
Won’t shave his beard again, and he pretends he doesn’t hear me,
And all he does is eat Doritos and Cheetos, and he just
Fell asleep in his car eating 3 Musketeers in the rear seat…
“Elevator” (Relapse: Refill, 2009)
Even seven years later, Eminem never forgot the time Ja Rule dissed his wife and daughter on 2002’s “Loose Change.” He’s still bitter on the first verse from this track off the expanded version of his comeback album, complete with shout-out to “My Dad’s Gone Crazy.”
Haters getting mad
They done had enough of Shady
You slay me
Nothing you say matters enough to touché me
Rappers try to play me
They use Hailie as a ukulele
Woopsa that a f—ing daisy
That’s a no-no, even she knows
Dada’s f—ing crazy
“Beautiful” (Relapse, 2009)
Arguably one of Eminem’s most uplifting and inspirational songs, “Beautiful” serves as the emotional centerpiece of his 2009 return to the world stage after his temporary withdrawal. “I wrote the first verse and a half in rehab, and when I came out, I finished it,” he told Vibe in June 2009. “It was the only song that marks that period without bringing me back to that place. Every other track not only didn’t fit with the album, but when I listened to it, it would bring up bad memories.”
To my babies: stay strong
Daddy’ll be home soon
And to the rest of the world
God gave you them shoes that fit you
So put ’em on and wear ’em
Be yourself, man, be proud of who you are
Even if it sounds corny
Never let no one tell you you ain’t beautiful
“Going Through Changes” (Recovery, 2010)
In many ways a sequel to “Déjà Vu” from the year before, “Going Through Changes” is a bruising self-portrait of a man in the grips of addiction and depressing. A slave to his appetite for drugs and food, Eminem presents himself as a shadow of his former self, unable (or unwilling) to look his daughter in the eye.
I am finally realizing I need help, I can’t do it myself, too weak
Two weeks I’ve been having ups and downs
Going through peaks and valleys, dilly-dallying
Around with the idea of ending the s— right here
I’m hating my reflection I walk around the house trying to fight mirrors
I can’t stand what I look like, yeah I look fat, but what do I care?
I give a f—, only thing I fear is Hailie
I’m afraid if I close my eyes I might see her
Hailie, this one is for you, Whitney and Alaina, too,
I still love your mother, that’ll never change,
Think about her every day, we just could never get it together.
Hey, wish there was a better way, for me to say it,
But I swear on everything, I’d do anything for her on any day.
“Headlights” (The Marshall Mathers LP 2, 2013)
Eminem’s relationship with his mother improved in later years, and on this track from the Marshall Mathers sequel he apologized to her for “’Cleanin’ Out My Closet’ and all them other songs.” Though on the earlier title he had vowed to keep his children away from his mom, in “Headlights” he recounted a warm meeting between the three generations.
And although one has only met their grandma once
You pulled up in our drive one night
As we were leavin’ to get some hamburgers
Me, her and Nate, we introduced you, hugged you
And as you left I had this overwhelming sadness
Come over me as we pulled off to go our separate paths
And I saw your headlights as I looked back
And I’m mad I didn’t get the chance to
Thank you for being my mom and my dad