Earlier this week, Eminem dropped “Rap God,” an epic six-minute cut from his highly anticipated The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The song, with its rapid-fire, seemingly eternal string of spits, garnered praise from many corners — but not everyone’s so thrilled.
“Eminem is every bit the same lazy, offensive bile-spewer he was back then,” writes The Week, “back then” being when Eminem released his original Marshall Mathers LP in 2000. “Eminem’s ‘Rap God’ is full of homophobic slurs,'” reads a Huffington Post headline. Salon also held Em responsible, calling him “a grown-ass middle-aged man” who should know better.
What’s everyone talking about? Mainly about the following lines from “Rap God”:
Those lyrical nuggets come about midway through the song. Earlier, in the first verse, Em raps:
So, Eminem’s still using homophobic slurs to insult his rap foes and competitors. He’s been getting in trouble for his harsh homophobic imagery for more than a decade now, and it seems not much will change this fall when MMLP2 drops. But other things have changed — namely, the state of hip-hop and its newfound determination to be gay-friendly. Many have pointed to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ marriage-equality anthem “Same Love” as the new model for rap, a genre that has a place for the Frank Oceans of the world. A genre, some say, that shouldn’t have room for the Eminems of the world.
Of course, Em himself knows that. He’s been doing this for years, and he’s too smart to not know how lyrics like that will be perceived. For him, that seems to be half the point. During the song’s introduction, an announcer says, “Six minutes, Slim Shady — you’re on.” Slim Shady, as most know, is one of Eminem’s favorite — and darkest, most f—ed up — characters. How much do Slim’s views, anxieties, and personal issues correspond with those of the real rapper? It’s usually too murky to tell, especially for a musician who in the past has performed with Elton John, endorsed same-sex marriage, and, more recently, gotten sober.
Either way, Eminem’s happy to let everyone else do the dissection for him while he sits back and rakes in the cash. Take these other snippets from the song:
As well as:
Well, is he getting away with it? The critical accolades are certainly still there; Time called “Rap God” “divine,” and the Salon post, while upset at the slurs, did concede Eminem is “brilliant.” Which leads to a tricky situation, rap fans. Do his sometimes offensive lyrics dampen your enjoyment of him as an artist? Will this affect your decision to buy The Marshall Mathers LP 2?