By now, you’ve all heard about Eminem’s latest song Rap God. If not, then you should really crawl out from underneath your rock. Rap God is the third single to come off Slim Shady’s highly anticipated album Marshall Mathers LP 2, which is set to hit stores November 5. Upon its release, the track exploded on Twitter and in the hip-hop community, with some hailing it as the best rap song they’d ever heard. Here’s the short summary: Rap God is six minutes of Eminem demonstrating his complete mastery over hip-hop.
Now here’s the longer version: Throughout the track, Eminem goes from slow delivery to rapid-fire, spitting so fast at times that you can hardly understand what he’s saying. Not only can he switch up styles and pace, but Eminem also flaunts a remarkable knowledge of the genre, making references that will soar over even the biggest rap junkie’s head. For example, the third line of the hook, “Now whose arms are long enough to slapbox?”, refers to a song called Your Arms Too Short to Box with God by Lakim Shabazz (who Eminem actually credits as an influence in the track). With this line, Slim is basically asking his peers, “Who thinks their arms are long enough to go against a Rap God?” He also makes references to the late but legendary Big Pun, Hotstylz 2007 song Lookin’ Boy, Busta Rhymes and his group Leaders of the New School, Heavy D and the Boyz, Pharoache Monch, and others. The supersonic part in verse three, an eargasmic twenty seconds that’s left many people in awe, is a reference to J.J. Fad’s 1980s hit Supersonic.
But of course, it wouldn’t really be an Eminem song without some insults and controversy. Most of the song attacks new school rappers for their inept skills and lack of lyrical content (his first single, Berzerk, did this as well). Most notably are his shots at Ray J and Waka Flocka Flame, the latter of whom said this about Eminem in a radio interview:
Rap God also contains gay bashing—literally. Just look up the lyrics for verse one. And naturally, Eminem is getting criticized for it. Media outlets like The Week and Huffington Post, gay icon Boy George, and gay rights charity Stonewall have all called the rapper’s lyrics “homophobic” and “outdated.” The stupidity of some people truly amazes me. So by this logic, because characters in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained constantly toss around the “n word,” Tarantino and his actors are racist? Because Christian Bale’s character murders dozens of people in American Psycho, he, the director, the screenwriter, and the book’s author are all sociopaths? This is entertainment people! Just because Eminem says these things doesn’t mean he actually BELIEVES them. Learn how to distinguish entertainment from reality and stop taking things so damn literally.
Secondly, why does this debate still even exist? Nearly every rap album contains the word “f*ggot.” 50 Cent says it; Jay Z says it; Nas says it; and Hopsin just used it to describe Kanye on his newest song. Yet only Marshall Mathers ever seems to get criticized for throwing this word around. Meanwhile, the man has declared time and time again that he’s NOT homophobic. He performed with gay icon Elton John at the 2001 Grammys, which has since become a legendary rock ‘n roll moment, to quell the rumors about his homophobia. Not only that, but Elton is also Slim Shady’s drug sponsor and received a diamond cock ring from the MC following his civil partnership to David Furnish. Yes, that’s right. Eminem actually bought Elton John a diamond cock ring as a wedding gift.
Thirdly, this album is a sequel to the Marshall Mathers LP, a body of work that’s widely known for its homophobic tendencies. And as a sequel, MMLP2 will most likely parallel its content. For instance, in the intro for Rap God, you can hear Eminem saying, “Six minutes, Slim Shady, you’re on.” This line is actually a sample from Remember Me, a song that comes right off MMLP. So yes, like its predecessor, MMLP2 will most likely contain some “homophobic” content and should also not be taken literally.
I do find it interesting, however, that Eminem hasn’t caught any heat for his lyrics about the Colombine school shooting. On MMLP, Eminem made a reference to the Colombine massacre in the song I’m Back. People were so offended and outraged by Eminem’s insensitivity that the lyrics were actually censored out of the song—even on the explicit version of the album. Now thirteen years later, Eminem repeats the line word for word (even including the same background noises) in Rap God, as though testing out the waters to see if he’ll get burnt or cause any ripples. Not only was the lyric uncensored, but every review I’ve read so far has failed to mention it. Why is this exactly? Is it because our country has moved on from Colombine? Is it because we’ve faced numerous, more horrific shootings since then (like Virgina Tech, Newtown, and most recently, Navy Yard)? Or is it because Eminem’s popularity and influence has subsided? “See if I get away with it now that I ain’t as big as I was,” the veteran MC says after delivering the lyric. This could be true, but if that’s really the case, then why all the homophobic backlash?
Regardless of what you may think of this song, there’s no denying Eminem’s talent and lyrical prowess. With Rap God, Slim Shady did what Kanye failed to do in I Am a God—he shows us WHY he’s a Rap God and leaves us no choice but to agree with him. From his ability to switch up styles to his impressive knowledge of the genre, Eminem clearly demonstrates his omnipresence in rap. At this point, it’s safe to say that the white boy from Detroit has cemented himself among the all-time greats. And why not? As Slim tells us in the last line of the song, “Why be a king when you can be a god?”
Read Rap Gods: Kanye West
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