Eminem is under fire for his homophobic lyrics in his latest album, the Marshall Mathers LP 2, and critics aren’t buying the rapper’s response that his slurs are used in a kind of post-homophobic way.
Much of the controversy is focus on the song “Rap God.” In the song Eminem has numbers gay references, including the lyric:
“Tell me what in the f–k are you thinking?/ Little gay looking boy/ So gay I can barely say it with a straight face looking boy/ You witnessing a massacre like you watching a church gathering/ And take place looking boy/ Oy vey, that boy’s gay”
Eminem has already responded to the controversy, saying he isn’t using the term as a form of gay slur but in a kind of post-homophobic insult.
“It was more like calling someone a bitch or a punk or a**hole,” Eminem told Rolling Stone. “So that word was just thrown around so freely back then. I say so much shit that’s tongue-in-cheek. I poke fun at other people, myself. But the real me sitting here right now talking to you has no issues with gay, straight, transgender, at all. I’m glad we live in a time where it’s really starting to feel like people can live their lives and express themselves.”
Eminem has seen plenty of controversy in his career for using gay slurs. He responded by joining openly gay singer Elton John on stage at the 2001 Grammy Awards for a performance of the rapper’s song “Stan.” After the song finished the two hugged on stage.
But not everyone is buying Eminem’s new appropriate of the term.
Kathryn Nave, a music writer for PolicyMic, said the blowback to Eminem’s lyrics show a rap industry that is moving away from acceptance of gay slurs.
“But the widespread criticism he’s faced for his continued use of anti-gay slurs — even from those lauding it as a brilliant single — shows that both hip hop and the wider music community are less and less prepared to uncritically accept homophobic language. It’s time Eminem woke up to that fact. Last century can have its lyrics back,” she wrote, calling Eminem an “embarrassment” to the 21st century.
In an album review titled “Eminem Grows Older, But Not Up,” New York Times reviewer Jon Caramanica says the Detroit rapper still relies heavily on the mean, bullying lyrics that characterized his work in his 20s.
“But he still has some old bad habits, still heavy-handed with the homophobic slurs, and still explaining them away in interviews by equating his current creative frame of mind to that of his less enlightened battle-rapping days, a weak and tiresome excuse,” Caramanica wrote of Eminem.