“Hi kids, do you like violence?” For many adults, these are the first words they heard from Detroit hip-hop icon Eminem. Indeed, Marshall Mathers has always been forthright about his general disinterest in being a family-oriented artist. His lyrics have been raw and laced with profanity since long before his 1999 major-label debut The Slim Shady LP. In 2000, his sophomore release The Marshall Mathers LP only upped the ante, doubling down on the rapper’s legacy as a junkyard dog with rhymes vicious enough to make Marilyn Manson uncomfortable.
Last week at the yearly Bonnaroo festival, Eminem caught flack for a gunshot sound effect that apparently startled some concert-goers. Today, Pitchfork is reporting that the rapper is characteristically unapologetic for having offended anyone. Last night at the Firefly Music Festival, Eminem displayed a disclaimer which iterated his feelings on the matter.
“If you are easily frightened by loud noises or offended by explicit lyrics you shouldn’t be here.”
Eminem has come under fire many times for far more serious accusations. In the early ’00s, Mathers was regularly accused of misogyny and homophobia for his lyrics. While the rapper defended himself against such accusations, he mostly just kept doing what he’s best at: recording multi-platinum albums.
At the 2001 Grammy Awards, Eminem performed his massive hit “Stan” with openly-gay musician Elton John; the two remain friends to this day. Eminem’s approach to addressing accusations of misogyny and homophobia is to point to a perceived line between humor, figures of speech, and legitimate, abject hatred.
Eminem took President Donald Trump to task recently in a freestyle on YouTube where he accused Trump of racism, hatred, bigotry, and just about any other descriptor few people would like to be called. He also told any fan of his who supported the president to stop listening to his music. Uncharacteristically, Trump failed to respond to Eminem’s scathing indictment. Just this week, as reported in Huffington Post, Trump responded to Robert De Niro’s two-word criticism of the president, and Trump even saw fit to tweet a response at Meryl Streep’s Golden Globe criticisms. But Eminem’s nearly five-minute long rampage against the president was met with a deafening silence.
Eminem remains the RIAA’s third highest selling musician in the digital music age, trailing only Rihanna and Taylor Swift, topping artists like Drake, Justin Bieber, and even Trump’s buddy Kanye West. With more than 107 million units sold, any notion that the rapper is irrelevant or “failing” is a notion no one could defend. Was “The Trump” actually stumped by the likes of Slim Shady? It certainly appears so.
Eminem is 45-years-old and recently released Revival, which sold over 100,000 units in its first week and was the rapper’s eighth consecutive record to debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200