By now you’ve probably heard about how Eminem served up a controversial freestyle directed at the Commander-In-Cheeto during the BET Hip-Hop Awards, in which he tackles a litany of political and moral contradictions—from Trump’s offensive statements about POWs and Gold Star Mothers of military veterans to the President’s outlandish remarks about the NFL and Colin Kaepernick.
However, in the days that followed, the internet took what was an emotionally charged and meticulously crafted message about society’s ills, and it stomped all over it by causing controversy where there had not been any before.
Although I am fairly certain that Eminem is at a stage in his career where he really couldn’t give a shit what any of the thousands of Facebook and Twitter trolls have to say about him, his message, or his music… it was still quite alarming to see some of the responses. Without getting too deep into the comments, you could probably imagine how many fans felt a need to criticize the 44-year-old Detroit rapper on social media with a barrage of comments about how “this is an example of Marshall Mathers speaking, with a few rhymes thrown in.”
“Eminem is back? Nope Eminem is wack,” reads one public Facebook post from an apparent Trump supporter. “[I’m] a long time Eminem fan, but his wack rap just disappointed the crap out of me,” read another.
But, instead of extinguishing the fire before it got too unwieldy, some continued to stoke the flame… probing with questions like, why Compton rapper YG didn’t get the same kind of media attention when he made a very similar statement on his track “FDT” featuring Nipsey Hussle.
The single, which appeared on his 2016 debut album, Still Brazy, was a noteworthy track that was intended to try and influence intelligent, young minds to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton. It didn’t quite work as well as they had hoped but it was an early wake-up call to the entire country that Donald Trump is exactly the “toupee” of person that would try and dismantle several years worth of progress in one fell swoop.
Following Eminem’s performance on BET, last Tuesday night, YG—in a somewhat intoxicated state—posted a tweet in response to the video. The tweet has since been deleted, but not before catching the attention of others on the internet who helped create a controversy.
Here’s the thing… even with alternative tactics to get the song out to more people, YG simply does not have the same kind of pull that a veteran rapper like Eminem does. This is not in anyway a criticism of YG, nor is it an attempt to slam Eminem on his acapella freestyle, however, you must understand that trying to compare the two distinctly different artists is not exactly “apples-to-apples.”
It was quite refreshing to hear this emotionally raw and unencumbered side of Slim Shady, who has certainly come a long way from his days talking shit about his ex-wife and starting fires with Dr. Dre to discussing his addiction to drugs and time spent in recovery. But his rhymes were said with such conviction and fury… that it was hard not to be moved by it.
For those who are upset because YG had an equally poignant message… we feel you. Sure, the song stirred up its fair share of controversy along the campaign trail and yes it deserved more recognition, but it’s difficult to compare when the person you’re up against has sold more than 172 million records worldwide and is ranked among one of the top-selling artists in history—just above The Eagles and U2.
Eminem also attracts more listeners than most newer, younger musician really could. And let’s be clear, this is in no way about race. It’s merely about impact. I mean, it really wouldn’t have mattered if it was someone like Drake or Beyoncé up there shouting “Fuck Donald Trump,” it would still cause more of a stir than YG.
What it really comes down to is figuring who is going to reach the greatest number of viewers? It is a matter of influence versus execution. For example, airing the freestyle between commercial breaks of an award ceremony guarantees that there will be a certain number of viewers tuning in to see who won. Add to that the thousands of loyal Eminem fans all across the globe who shared, tweeted, and retweeted the video and you can tell that the sophomore artist cannot compare.
Besides, there is just something extra about seeing Eminem spit bars with this look of utter disgust plastered on his face. And, while he shows no quarter when it comes to bashing Nazis and white supremacists in the South, he is much more careful not to cross any kind of “line”—something the controversial rapper never put much weight on in the past, having been known to write cringeworthy lyrics about rape, murder, suicide, guns, and drugs. Nevertheless, Shady executed this with precision and showed he can be cautious and reserved, while still unafraid to play with fire.
#ICYMI WATCH EMINEM THROW SHADE ON POTUS