“Bad Guy” is a sequel to Eminem’s song “Stan”, which was released as a single from The Marshall Mathers LP. “Stan” is about a crazed fan who kills himself, his girlfriend and their unborn child because of the “lack of attention” Eminem paid to him as a fan. “Bad Guy” is about Stan’s little brother, Matthew, who loved his brother more than anything. Matthew Mitchell is all grown-up now, and is seeking revenge for Stan’s death.
The song also subtly references Eminem’s “‘97 Bonnie & Clyde,” where he dumps his wife’s dead body in a river, similarly to how Matthew executes his plan to kill him, almost powerfully echoing the notoriously controversial song.
The song includes three different voices:
First is Stan’s brother, rapping in an apparently misogynistic and hyper-aggressive style, just like Eminem’s very early work. Only after the 3rd verse this does become really apparent.
Second is a hybrid, starting at 5:12 the fictional brother becomes Eminem’s conscience and takes on a sinister double voice as Eminem is “dying” like Stan did. This portion is quite surprisingly introspective, vulnurable, and self-critical. He’s always been good at this level of honesty, but this verse is really spectacular.
The third is his own, who silences the self doubt at 6:50 and tries to explain why he, Eminem, has to keep doing what he’s doing. But this voice sounds tired, it lacks the intensity and power of the first two. Soon this persona fades away, just like the second voice of doubt and conscience said that he would.