The Complicated Meaning Behind Eminem, 50 Cent, and Dr. Dre’s “Crack a Bottle”

Two of Eminem’s favorite collaborators in his career were his quasi-mentor Dr. Dre and his quasi-protégé 50 Cent. After he had collaborated with each of them multiple times around the turn of the century for hits like “Forgot About Dre” (1999), “Guilty Conscience” (1999), “Patiently Waiting” (2003), and “Never Enough” (2004), he brought all three of them together for a special reunion in 2009 for the song “Crack a Bottle.”

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Releasing in February 2009 as a promotional single for Em’s sixth studio album Relapse, the track is one of the last true examples of Em’s “Shady” era, where he uses the beloved alter-ego to deliver tongue-in-cheek and controversial raps. This tone is set right away too, as he introduced himself as a sinister figure to start the song.

Oh, ladies and gentlemen. The moment you’ve all been waiting for. In this corner, weighing 175 pounds. With a record of 17 rapes, 400 assaults, and four murders. The undisputed, most diabolical villain in the world: Slim Shady!

Throughout “Crack a Bottle,” Em, Dre, and 50 spit braggadocios bars about their raunchy lifestyles, which include promiscuity and violence. Sandwiched between these verses is an incredibly catchy hook by Em, where he sings about a night out with his fellas.

So crack a bottle, let your body waddle
Don’t act like a snobby model, you just hit the lotto
Oh-oh, oh-oh, bitches hoppin’ in my Tahoe
Got one ridin’ shotgun and no, not one of ’em got clothes
Now, where’s the rubbers? Who’s got the rubbers?
I noticed there’s so many of ’em
And there’s really not that many of us
And ladies love us, my posse’s kickin’ up dust
It’s on ’til the break of dawn and we’re starting this party from dusk

While the song would go on to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and win the Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Duo or Group, the story of its release is not as smooth. Initially, before the official mix of the song was done, “Crack a Bottle” actually leaked in December 2008 as part of a mixtape titled 4th Quarter Pressure, Part 2 by Big Mike and DJ Neptune. At this point in time, the song was instead titled “Number One.”

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Then in January 2009, after the title was changed to “Crack a Bottle,” the song leaked again as a more polished recording. Shortly after this, in an interview obtained by MTV, 50 Cent claimed the song would land on his fourth album Before I Self Destruct, which arrived in November 2009. He also noted that he, Em, and Dre were working on an animated music video for the song.

After the song earned an official release, though, Universal Music Group rebutted 50’s claim, asserting that the song would instead be on the Relapse, which ended up being true. Relapse would finally come out in May 2009, selling 608,000 units in its first week and debuting at No. 1.

However, the aforementioned music video, which leaked just like the song, would not be put out officially until last year (2022). The same year that “Crack a Bottle” eclipsed 200 million streams on Spotify, Em dropped the cartoonish visuals for the song to celebrate the release of Curtain Call 2, his second greatest hits project.

On his Final Lap Tour earlier this year, 50 Cent brought out Eminem at his show in Em’s hometown of Detroit. After performing “Crack a Bottle” with his good friend during the concert, 50 posted a video of the performance on Instagram, captioning it by praising Em for the impact he’s had on his life.

“Bro when I do anything with EM people just go crazy they know he really my boy,” he wrote. “I love him till death!”

(Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

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