Creating a Monster: How Bebe Rexha’s Song Became Eminem’s Chart-Topping Hit

This past week, Eminem’s Rihanna-featuring single “The Monster” sold a massive 433,000 copies digitally, its best sales week yet, pushing its total to an impressive 2,224,000 in nine weeks. “The Monster” has been perched atop the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs since debuting at number one on the chart—a surprising first-time achievement for one of the world’s most popular rappers. It is already the fifth best-selling single of Eminem’s career, likely to eclipse the song right ahead of it (“Till I Collapse,” which has sold 2,813,000 copies to-date) within the next two to four weeks.

It is no secret at this point that many major hits are the product of a process often long, arduous, and expensive (as detailed in this excellent 2012 piece on top hit-makers Ester Dean and Stargate in The New Yorker and this piece about the cost of making a hit song for Rihanna on NPR’s Planet Money blog). Some readily refer to it as a sort of manufacturing, a delivering of smash singles ready made for the artists that bring them to the public and ultimately popularize them. The reality is a bit grayer as with anything artistic, no matter how plastic or popularly-minded.


When artists and songwriters Bebe Rexha and Jon Bellion joined forces with producers Frequency and Aalias, their intention wasn’t to create Eminem’s next chart-topper.

“It wasn’t something that we originally planned,” says Rexha. “We were all just working on a great song for my project that we all loved. But it’s crazy, because I actually had one of those premonitions as I was cutting the vocals in the studio. I was like ‘This would be a great song for Eminem.’ And I remember Frequency saying something like ‘Stop it Bebe, just focus on what’s in front of you and finish the song. You’re all over the place.’”

As Bellion told XXL,“The Monster’ started out as this indie, Florence And The Machine, tribal-y, almost Spanish-esque dance record. I wrote the hook—I was just sort of mumbling over some chords, and somehow, ‘I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed’ just kind of popped out of my mouth.”

I just had a gut feeling that [Eminem] would relate to the spirit of the lyric, and my gut was correct.

–Bebe Rexha


Initially titled “Monster Under My Bed,” the song was intended for Rexha’s own album. “Monster” was intended as an intensely personal meditation on the singer’s despondency after a failed stint on Island Records.

“I was dropped from my first record deal with Island Records 2-3 years ago and I fell into a deep depression. I felt really alone. I felt like a failure,” said Rexha. “I started seeing a therapist to help manage my anxiety and depression. This psychiatrist prescribed me all these different meds, saying that was the only way I was gonna get better. Those pill bottles sat on my drawer in my bedroom for a year. I’d stare at them every morning and fought myself on whether I should start taking them or not. I couldn’t leave the house and I’d cry for hours at a time. I was scared to be alone just incase I’d hurt myself. I was living a nightmare inside my mind.”

“I decided not to take any of the meds, instead I’d sit at home in front of my computer and write songs for 12 hours straight. Music was the only thing that got me through. When I wasn’t writing songs, I’d browse the internet for quotes that would make me feel better. I had come across a quote that went a little like this.’We stopped checking for monsters under our beds when we realized they were inside us.’ That quote really spoke to me, because of all the shit I was going through.”

“I went into the studio that day and I read it to Jon, Aalias and Frequency,” continued Rexha. “I told them what I was going on in my life and everything fell into place. The song is about accepting the fact that we are not perfect, that we are all fucked up and that’s okay. It was a breakthrough for me because I felt like I was accepting myself, my anxiety, the panic, all my flaws. It’s an anthem for the people who aren’t perfect.”


After the song’s completion, an encounter between Frequency and Riggs Morales, a VP of A&R at Atlantic and a long-time Eminem confidant, sparked its migration from Rexha solo-song to Eminem single.

“Frequency is good friends with Riggs. Riggs would hang out at Frequency’s studio often (formerly Stadium Red in Harlem, NY), playing songs and just shooting the shit,” said Rexha. “Frequency played Riggs the song. Riggs loved the song and sent a stripped down version to Eminem. A few days later, Frequency was sending files to Eminem. That was almost a year ago. We didn’t hear from anybody on whether the song was actually happening for about 10 months. And then, finally, a track listing was released, and the rest is history.”

“My lawyer called me out of nowhere and was like, ‘I heard through the grapevine that they got Rihanna off tour for a couple of days or something to come cut the chorus,’” Bellion told HipHopDX. “I was like, ‘No way.’ Then like, two days later, I checked my Twitter and Rihanna tweeted, ‘Just recorded a monster hook for one of my favorite artists.’ I was like, ‘Damn, that could be her.’ Then I think five days later, I check the internet, [Eminem] dropped the tracklist and we all saw that it was on the album. We were just like, ‘Holy shit.’ And because it’s Rihanna, we were like, ‘Yo, maybe this can be a single or something.’”

For a further peek behind the curtain, listen to the original demo “Monster Under My Bed” below.


  • Khoko

    When ever I hear/read stories like this. I’m reminded that music these days has no actual originality. Just literally take a song some indie artist did 2 years ago put whatever popular singer you can find on it to redo it and it’ll be a hit. So boring. I don’t get how people are OK with this. They didn’t even switch it up a little. It’s EXACTLY the same. Even the cooo o-oo~ bit. Jesus..

  • http://twitter.com/#!/PancakeMcKennz pancakemckennz

    SO happy to see some love for Bebe on here.

  • Tiredofthepolitics

    LOL this further prove what i have been trying to say about Eminem. the guy is a good rapper but his reputation is so deceiving. & the fact that ‘Monster’ one of the wackest watered down most annoying ‘rap’ song i ever heard is the ‘rap god’ first song to top the Hip Hop/R&B charts is just…… LMAO. really? you never hear talks about that fact

  • Lula Lola

    Eminem usually writes the hook for his songs but when they send him a beat that has a hook he likes he uses it or he collaborates with other artists to write the hook ie. Sia, Nate Ruess, Dido etc. LOL people read one article and think “Oh this is how all his songs are made” Pshhhhhh

  • natethehate

    So does she get any of the profits?

  • http://twitter.com/troybrowntv TroyBrownTV

    That’s not new. They’ve been doing this since Elvis

  • http://twitter.com/troybrowntv TroyBrownTV

    Damn this is dope. Just a damn good song.

  • Jon Tanners

    Yes, she has a writing credit on the song and, as a result, has a share of the royalties.

  • Daniel P.

    Wait, just royalties? She got some sort of licensing deal too, right? It seems like it ought to be fairly substantial, (especially considering what the album would have looked like without that single), but since a lot of revenue these days comes from performances I’d be curious to know exactly how much Rexha is benefiting from this financially.

  • Jonny 2 Gnar

    no Stan… Eminem is one of the most manufactured ‘artists’ in history.

  • James

    Loads, She will own a writing credit possibly the majority shareholder, so every time the song is performed anywhere, on the radio, at a live event, she receives royalties from it. Known as PRS in the UK.

    She won’t receive a PPL (or US similar) royalty as she didn’t actually sing on this version of the track.

  • f*ckyoub*tch

    this song is garbage. so repetitive. rihannas constant tone of voice change is torture to listen to. it sounded like wminem even said he just came up with this pile of sh*t song when he was bored and humming. cause thats what we do when were bored, hum right? yeah basically, when he needs a new hit now he just comes up with the first thing in his mind as long as its completely forced to be catchy (catchy isnt always good). do you think actual great songs like ’till i collapse and stan came from a simple humming session? no, that came from the heart. not his greed for money and staying relevant. eminem sucks ass now.

  • ILLUMINATIISREAL

    THIs IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED. i beT THEY JACKd THE SHIt AND GOT CAUGHT HAD TO DO SOMETHING SO THEY SETTLED ON SOME SHIT LIKE THIS

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