When Eminem’s anti-Trump freestyle at the BET Awards hit the Internets the other day, some of the alt-right guys I follow on Twitter sprung into action, bringing up ancient controversies about Em fantasizing about killing his baby’s mother and threatening to stab gay guys in the head (lol).
This was especially dangerous for Eminem, because we’re currently living in the golden age of bringing up what Stacin Goins would call “old crimes,” as if there’s no such thing as the statute of limitations, and it just goes to show Eminem’s dedication to getting his name in the paper before the release of his new album, which drops on November 17th.
(In fact, they did get rid of the statute of limitations for nonconsensual lovemaking in California, to go after the Cos. I wonder if now they’ll go after Harvey Weinstein. Sometimes they change the law to try to throw black people in jail and then pretend the law doesn’t exist when white people commit the same offense.)
On the other hand, there was minimal risk of Eminem alienating his fans in the alt-right, if only because I don’t know how many fans he has in the alt-right, this despite the fact that Eminem can be viewed as the father of the alt-right. He even once called a black woman the dreaded n-word, in audio that was later distributed with an issue of the Source.
Certainly many, many white people bought those Eminem albums back in the early ‘00s. Of the 10 million people who bought the Marshall Mathers LP, probably a good 9,999,000 were white. And as Ta-Nehisi Coates points out in We Wuz Kangs for Eight Years, or whatever it’s called, we mostly have white people to thank for President Trump (including the majority of white women).
But the early '00s were a long time ago. Eminem turned 45 the other day, roughly the same age my father was when I graduated from college. Some of these kids on Twitter right now bitching and moaning that you’re not allowed to post a swastika anymore probably weren’t even born when the Marshall Mathers LP dropped.
Any racists old enough to have fuxxed with MMLP back then have probably long since moved on with their lives. And even if they haven’t, they can easily block this freestyle out of their minds the same way they occasionally have to write off Trump’s forced disavowal of the Klan as “4D chess.” They know where his real allegiance lies…
Anyway, it’s easy enough to dismiss Em’s freestyle on the basis that it fails as rap music. I only listened to it once, the night it hit the Internets, and I’m writing this on deadline, on a borrowed computer with no speakers, but I mostly just remember it being kinda weird.
For starters, there was that weird beard, an unintentional callback to the time Mariah Carey dressed as Eminem in the video for that song about how he was stalking her. I don’t know enough about white people’s hair to know what was going on there, but I’m thinking it may have been grecian formula.
A capella freestyles are always kinda dumb (yeah, I said it), and awkward, and they’re even more so when the subject is politics and they last for upwards of five minutes. They can’t help but feel like a harangue from the Black Hebrew Israelites.
If only Eminem’s message were as nonsensical. The other problem with his rhymes is that they made entirely too much sense, like he’s been sitting around the past few years reading the paper. There’s nothing at all hip-hop about becoming a better-informed citizen.
As discussed in Nas Lost
, you can’t just win a rap battle by bringing up valid points about the other guy’s numerous flaws. Sometimes your best course of action is to insinuate that your opponent is a homosexual. I think it even says that (or something along those lines) in the 48 Laws of Power.
Of course the fact that it wasn’t any good didn’t keep Twitter from erupting. Many a celebrity praised Eminem for ethering Donald Trump, almost as if this had been coordinated beforehand. T-Pain tweeted that we need to protect Eminem at all costs, which was a bit too house negro for comfort, if not surprising. (Recall the ironic appreciation of his NPR Tiny Desk Concert.)
Keith Olbermann said he’s had doubts about rap music for 27 years, i.e., presumably, since the release of Vanilla Ice’s To the Extreme, but now he’s a fan. This prompted ?uestlove to make him a 200 song-long Spotify playlist, which, again, I’m not sure what part of hip-hop that is.
Eminem made a random appearance at a Detroit Pistons game last night, which leads me to believe that his primary concern here is getting his name in the paper, not politics. I hope there’s not a lot of Trump stuff on his next album, even though I won’t be listening to it anyway (this is 2017), just so I don’t have to hear about it.
Take it easy on yourself,