If you have yet to watch Eminem’s cipher critiquing many of President Donald Trump’s positions and policies on the BET Hip-Hop Awards earlier this week, you might want to check it out. It’s a highly political freestyle, in an especially controversial time.
Not only does Eminem discuss the NFL kneeling protest, but he addresses some of Trump’s overarching ideologies and mandates like his view on immigration. It seems clear that Eminem’s position on the modern political climate is that divisiveness has taken root in our collective psyche.
A very notable point in his freestyle is when he calls out his fans, affirming that they cannot at once support him while also supporting the current president. He raps: “And any fan of mine/Who’s a supporter of his/I’m drawing in the sand a line/You’re either for or against…” The rap has taken the entire world by storm, and several celebrities have since reacted to Eminem’s lyrics.
In speaking on the NFL protests, Eminem raps: “He gets an enormous reaction/When he attacks the NFL so we focus on that/instead of talking Puerto Rico or gun reform for Nevada/All these horrible tragedies and he’s bored and would rather/Cause a Twitter storm at the Packers”
Referencing the backlash that many athletes and celebrities have recently faced for expressing dissenting political views that hold the current administration in contempt, Eminem rhymes: “Now if you’re a black athlete/You’re a spoiled little brat for trying to use your platform and your stature/To try to give those a voice who don’t have one/He said you’re spitting in the face of vets who fought for us, you [expletive]”
Eminem calls out Colin Kaepernick, the leader of the kneeling protest, by name in the clip and in a poignant show of solidarity, he looks straight at the camera and says, “This is for Colin, ball up a fist.” Kaepernick tweeted his gratitude to Eminem for his show of support, writing, “I appreciate you @Eminem”.
T-Pain also tweeted out a message of admiration at the rap legend writing, “Protect Eminem at all cost.”
However, Eminem wasn’t the first rap artist to critique Trump. YG and Nipsey Hussle released a record called “[Expletive] Donald Trump” in 2016 prior to his presidency. Although many African American artists and celebrities released a myriad of works criticising Trump and his administration, none have received the same attention or acclaim as Eminem.
Last Wednesday, YG responded to Eminem’s cipher on Twitter writing, “So we don’t get no credit for dissing TRUMP a year ago?” Certainly, YG doesn’t have the same track-record or star power that Em has, but for what it’s worth, he did denounce Trump in his FDT track, video, remix, and on a tour.
It wasn’t just musicians and athletes who threw in their two cents. Media creator, journalist, and CEO Elon James White expressed his appreciation for Eminem’s rhymes and the socio-political issues that he raises that disproportionately affect people of color. He wrote, “It’s not that Eminem is the first to say any of this. It’s that as a white artist with a LOT of white fans, he called them all dafuq out.”
The conservative commentator, Meghan McCain discussed her opinion of Eminem’s cipher on ‘The View’. After Sunny Hostin lauded Eminem’s performance as “brave”, McCain countered: “I call B.S. on saying that it’s brave to call out the president. It’s braver to be a conservative in Hollywood. I know friends personally who have been blackballed for their political beliefs.”
Though McCain said she likes Eminem, she recalls some of his past lyrics. She argues that all Republicans are being unfairly branded as racists and Nazis as a result of Trump. She questioned whether Mike Pence would flare up the same labels if he were president. Whoopie Goldberg admitted that she didn’t know, but pushed back asserting that, “People, when they speak their mind as themselves, it is a brave move, because it’s very dangerous and people will take you out.”
American sports and political commentator and writer Keith Olbermann was also impressed by Eminem’s dialogue tweeting, “After 27 years of doubts about rap I am now an @Eminem fan. Best political writing of the year, period. #Eminem2020”.