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Eminem Performs “Walk on Water” With Skylar Grey at 2017 MTV EMAs

Dave J Hogan, Getty Images
Dave J Hogan, Getty Images

Eminem‘s been a key part of some of the most iconic moments in MTV history. So it’s only right the rap legend kicked off the 2017 MTV EMAs in London with a performance of “Walk on Water,” a new single from his first album in four years. Joining him onstage was Skylar Grey, who co-wrote the track.

Em’s performance began with him sitting alone at a bar just moments before he casts aside the unsatisfactory rhymes he’s just scribbled down. It’s a moment that captures the vibe of the originally Beyoncé-assisted track, which finds the Detroit rhyme slinger reconciling his place in the current rap landscape with what it was in the past. It’s Em’s sobering reflection on the mortality of reverence in the rap game, though the crowd at the 2017 MTV EMAs definitely showed him some serious love.

Em dropped “Walk on Water” at the tail end of last week, and understandably, it became the talk of the rap world as soon as it was released. Discussing the meaning of the song with Malcolm Gladwell and Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin, Slim Shady laid bare his frustrations with people’s criticism—and possibly his own inability to meet the expectations he’s set for himself.

“People are always expecting something different from you,” said Em, whose friendship with JAY-Z played a role in getting Beyoncé to sing on the track. “‘I want him to talk about this, I want him to talk about that. I want him to just spit. I don’t like when he just spits. He does too much rappity rappity shit. I don’t like when he self loathes, he does that shit too much. I don’t like when he puts all them syllables together but they don’t mean anything.’ There’s less places to go that you haven’t already been.”

A short time later, Em took home the 2017 MTV EMA for Best Hip Hop. Watch clips from Em’s performance below.

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