In this song, Eminem corresponds with a crazed fan who becomes increasingly unhinged as the story progresses. This is one of his most well-received singles and was listed at #15 on VH1’s Top 100 Hip Hop Songs of All Time.
Eminem intended for this song to be a message to fans who had written him disturbing letters indicating that they had taken The Slim Shady LP’s violent lyrics seriously. Another reason Em wrote this was to “make the critics who were saying things about [him] feel stupid.” His aim was to disprove those who felt he lacked talent and relied on shock value.
This song has cemented itself in history, with “Stan” being entered into the Oxford Dictionary as an informal noun. It is generally considered to be a portmanteau of “stalker” and “fan,” but Oxford defines the term as:
An overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity.
There was a verse where [Stan] got out of the water. He escaped and came to my house to kill me. Then I had to kill him first, [but] I missed him, and he was in the hospital for like three weeks. Then he was pissed off that I didn’t write him get-well cards, so he came to kill me again, and in the last verse finally I just blew his head off.
In 2013, Eminem released a follow-up in the form of “Bad Guy,” wherein Stan’s younger brother Matthew avenges his brother’s death.