If you needed any confirmation that we’re living in an alternate dimension, the often-controversial Eminem has drawn acclaim from the media for a rap attacking a popular political figure.
Months after being heavily criticized for suggesting he wanted to rape Jamie Lee Curtis and sexually assault Ann Coulter with various items that ranged from a Ku Klux Klan poster to a manhole cover on Big Sean’s “No Favors,” the 44-year-old rapper — real name Marshall Mathers — is now being praised for his recent BET Awards freestyle about President Donald Trump. Though the freestyle itself was somewhat cringe-worthy, it’s the anger and the genuine feeling from a role model who often stays out of the mainstream media that has people singing praise.
Not only does Eminem focus entirely on Trump and avoid making reference to his usual targets — women, celebrities, celebrities who are women — but he makes one thing especially clear: If any fans of his are fans of Trump as well, they’re going to have to pick between one or the other.
Always one to lend his insightful opinion toward ongoing events, whether it’s done in a satirical way when he mocks the hypocrisy of those who frown upon rap music but are alright with violent movies or angrily blasting those who blame rappers for tragedies, Eminem commenting on the current political climate is no surprise.
Interestingly, during a 2004 promotional event known as “Shady Convention” that raised attention for both his Shade 45 radio station and his upcoming Encore album, Eminem had a well-known businessman and celebrity introduce him. Who fits that criteria best, you ask?
Well, Eminem is indeed a winner. I’ll give you that, Mr. President.
After further thinking, there are some legitimate similarities between Eminem’s attack on Trump — as well as recent events in the United States — and the rapper’s 2004 attack on then-President George W. Bush in “Mosh,” a single from the Encore album that Trump helped promote. For some brief history, Eminem took major issue with Bush’s handling of the War on Terror and rapped in 2003 that, “I’d rather see the president dead.”
With the 2004 election between Bush and John Kerry approaching, Eminem urged his fans to vote on “Mosh,” which came complete with a music video that saw him lead a literal march on the White House and mention the Secret Service’s investigation into the aforementioned lyrics from “We Are Americans.”
For comparison, let’s look (without any bias of one side or another, just comparing Eminem’s lyrics to events that have legitimately happened since Trump took office) at “Mosh’s” third verse where the similarities between Eminem’s issues with Bush and what is currently happening in the White House become disturbingly true to life.
“Imagine it pouring, it’s raining down on us
Mosh pits outside the oval office
Someone’s tryna tell us something,
Maybe this is God just sayin’ we’re responsible
For this monster, this coward,
That we have empowered”
Well, there certainly have been protests, especially outside the White House. The talk about Trump being a coward is something we’ve heard as well, especially with the president’s penchant for using social media to vent his issues. While this part alone is pretty self-explanatory, prepare to wonder if Eminem really had a magic ball on his desk.
The next line is “This is Bin Laden, look at his head noddin’,” which doesn’t have many parallels to what’s happening now so much as it was a shot at Bush. Maybe to North Korea, but that’s a stretch for reasons we’ll get into later.
“How could we allow something like this without pumping our fists?
Now this is our final hour”
How Trump managed to beat the odds and become president is one many have been asking, but then again, both candidates were pretty bad in their own right. Even if Trump’s “true self” hasn’t been one many are pleased with, it was easier for many to accept that rather than Hillary Clinton not being herself and not taking a clue from Barack Obama. Pumped fist also conjures up an image of NFL players raising a fist during the anthem a la the Black Power Movement, but let’s continue.
“Let me be the voice in your strength and your choice
Let me simplify the rhyme just to amplify the noise
Try to amplify the times it, and multiply by six…
Ten million people are equal at this high pitch”
Again, the next line is one that ties back to the War on Terror with Em rapping, “Maybe we can reach Al Queda through my speech”, though the next few lines can apply for Trump as much as they did with Bush.
“Let the president answer a higher anarchy
Strap him with an Ak-47, let him go, fight his own war
Let him impress daddy that way”
Are we headed for World War III with North Korea? If Trump continues to provoke Kim Jong-Un through social media, there’s a legitimate possibility, but the idea of a political figure actually fighting in a war they got their country (and by extension, their allies) into is one that’s been raised for years. Bush responded to the September 11 attacks with the War on Terror as he initially should have done (the handling of that is another story but one not worth getting into now) but Trump, until North Korea attacks U.S. soil, is goading them into a war.
Then there’s the argument made by the New York Times last year that Trump’s behavior comes from his father, Fred. Look no further than this segment from Jason Horowitz’s must-read feature on Trump.
“Mr. Trump’s childhood friends have said they see in him his father’s intensity, but also a constant and often palpable need to please and impress the patriarch who ruled his family with a firm hand. Even today, Donald Trump seems to bathe in his father’s approval. A framed photo of Fred Trump faces him on his cluttered desk.
Asked what his father, who died in 1999, would have thought about his run for president, Mr. Trump, 70, said, “He would have absolutely allowed me to have done it.”
Isn’t that interesting? Trump doesn’t say that his father would have been proud or supportive, but that Fred would have allowed him to run. Eminem’s lines directed towards Bush wanting to impress his own father, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, take on a new light when you consider this verse and Donald Trump.
This last part of the verse, of all the ones discussed so far, is the one that really needs to be analyzed and explored. Ready?
“No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our own soil
No more psychological warfare, to trick us to thinking that we ain’t loyal
If we don’t serve our own country, we’re patronizing a hero
Look in his eyes, it’s all lies
The stars and stripes, they’ve been swiped, washed out and wiped
And replaced with his own face.”
And that, at least in October of 2017, seems to be the national anthem protests in a nutshell. The message behind then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 anthem protests and how they were fighting police brutality have been shaped by Trump and the media into you being with or against America.
All sides of the anthem debate from those not partaking have tried to use this element of psychological warfare where it’s either if you don’t support those kneeling, you’re an awful person or if you do kneel, you’re disrespecting America. There’s no middle ground when there really should be. It’s alright to disagree with a side (i.e. be against those kneeling) but still want to create conversation and that middle ground.
In the past, Trump made genuinely fair observations about the flag protests, even after taking office. At least with what he said on Twitter, the protests weren’t really a big deal so long as you weren’t destroying the flag – which is something many people did agree with when the protests were being portrayed as anti-police brutality.
But why the change? Why is protesting the anthem being used against people more than it was last year? Is it because Kaepernick is no longer in the NFL and players are being more vocal, or is it simply Trump trying to use propaganda to get the American people riled up?
“Mosh now or die
If I get sniped tonight you know why,
Cause I told you to fight.”
Eminem does have brains. He does have guts. Does he have Donald Trump’s vote? After taking on the president, perhaps, but Em has never been shy about taking a stand.
[Featured Image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]