Guilty Conscience

Guilty Conscience

"Guilty Conscience" is a song by the rapper Eminem, featuring his mentor, Dr. Dre, released in 1999. It was the third and final single from his major label debut album, The Slim Shady LP, which was also released that year. The song was originally a freestyle between Dr. Dre and Eminem and helped cement the latter's musical style.

Song plot

The song was successful, featuring a duel between the two rappers, who are playing the role of the good and evil inside someone's brain in the manner of a medieval morality play (i.e., the "angel and devil on the shoulders" competing for possession of a person's soul). Dr. Dre is the angel; Eminem is the devil. There are also spoken parts and sound effects describing several dilemma scenarios, making the contrast even more interesting by building tension and curiosity. Eminem is generally credited for writing Dre's verses in the song as well as his own.

The first verse of the song features the story of Eddie, 23, a frustrated young man about to rob a liquor store. Dre convinces him not to go through with it, warning Eddie that the people who witness the robbery will report it to the police and will be mentioned on the news and that Eddie will end up on the most wanted list. Eminem's character told him to go through with his plan and go to one of his aunts' house, disguise himself and change his identity so that no witnesses would recognize him. He also tries to justify the theft with the poverty of Eddie's family, and in the unedited version, also tries to get him to murder the store clerk (whom Dre says is "older than George Burns").

Stan, 21, takes an underage girl upstairs during a rave party. In the "Director's Cut" video, it takes place at a fraternity party. Eminem convinces him to date-rape her, despite Dre's protests and warnings about jail time for statutory rape. Dre also refers to the 1995 movie Kids in which the climax scene consists of a teenager date-raping a girl infected by the HIV virus. In the edited version, they tone down the intensity and Eminem suggests leaving her passed out on her parents' doorstep. (The scene, especially the edited ending, is reminiscent of a famous scene from Animal House.)

During the narration of this part, the song, Hoochie Mama by 2 Live Crew is heard being played in the background at the party.

Grady, 29, a construction worker, comes home to find his wife having sex with another man in bed. In the unedited version, Eminem demands that Grady kill his wife brutally. When Dre tries to cut in, Eminem tells Grady to leave his wife and take his and his wife's kids with him, and Eminem also brings up Dre's violent N.W.A. past, accusing him of hypocrisy when he says, "Mr. Dre, Mr. N.W.A., Mr. A.K. coming straight outta Compton, y'all better make way. How in the fuck (hell in the edited version) are you gonna tell this man not to be violent?" . In turn, Dre argues that Grady doesn't need to take the same foolish path Dre himself once took, saying "been there, done that". In the end, Dre agrees that Grady should murder both his wife and her lover. This ending in particular caused a lot of controversy, especially since the ending was left in the edited version of the song.

Video and production

The video for "Guilty Conscience" has a nonstop backbeat with a chorus, unlike the album version, and a different narrator, played by actor Robert Culp. The lyrics in the chorus interpolate those found in the song "I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March. The version that aired on MTV also eliminated the murder at the end and converted it into an escalating argument between Eminem and Dre with no resolution. The "Director's Cut" leaves the murder in.

The video is done in rotoscoping, while Eminem and Dr. Dre rap to the vicitims on how to deal with many situations such as a man's temptation to robbing a liquor store, a college student's urge to have sex with a underage girl at a frat party, and even the urge of a construction worker to murder his wife after she was cheating on him by sleeping with another man.

The song contains a sample from the Ronald Stein song "Go Home Pigs", from the soundtrack to the film Getting Straight (1970).

Eminem later released "Guilty Conscience" on his greatest hits album, Curtain Call: The Hits. The non-stop backbeat and chorus from the music video was only in the edited version, but the narrator wasn't changed.

The video was listed on MuchMusic's 50 Most Controversial Videos (#38), for its promotion on how people get crossed with a conscience.

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