In a new interview with NPR, the “Rap God” mastermind opened up about the concepts behind some of the album’s songs and ruminated on his future in the music business. Mostly, he explains why he’s upset with America, and how the album art and title ties into that mindset.
“The title just kind of made sense with everything that the album was about, and as the songs started coming together, it started making more and more sense to call it that,” he explains. “The cover is me with my head down, because as much as I love our country, we got shit that we gotta work on. We got shit that we gotta get better at. It’s kinda like, I love our country; I’m upset with it right now.”
“It’s something that’s been building for a while,” he adds. “Watching the Trump thing has been … frustrating.”
Em’s made his dissatisfaction with Trump clear with shots in “Election Day” and Big Sean’s “No Favors” before eviscerating him in a scathing freestyle at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards in October. It’s a topic he unapologetically revisits throughout the album, making it clear the 45-year-old has been paying attention.
“Just watching how this unfolds and watching what happened with Obama and watching all the steps we took forward … it feels like we’ve taken just as many steps backwards as we had forward and we’re right back to where the fuck we were,” he says. “In the very beginning, I kind of felt like, ‘You know what, why not? He seems like a smart businessman. Maybe he can help with the deficit or whatever.’”
“And then I start hearing him talk,” he continues. “And the more he talks, the more his true colors are showing. I was watching the thing live when he was saying, ‘When Mexico sends their people, they don’t send their best, they’re sending rapists and murderers.’ And looking at it like, ‘Yo … is he? He can’t say that.’”
While Revival is filled with political rhetoric, it dives into his personal life as well. The song “Castle” focuses on a 2007 drug overdose that almost killed him and how it affected his children. Toward the end of the song, he spits a line about being “fed up” with the music business.
“I’m at a funny place, you know?” he says. “Hip Hop has been around for a long time but I don’t know if it’s really been around long enough to see how long someone could actually go for. You’ve still got guys like me and JAY-Z. Redman still has it, to me. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, but I’m still passionate about music, and Hip Hop.”