“Rap God,” Eminem’s new single making waves on the internet, sees the rapper once again use the tried and tired formula for establishing his own worth as a rapper: bash gays, and bash women.
Celebrated for its lyrical prowess and rap mastery (the song is a 6 minute rap with no chorus and very little repetition, delivered at such a fast pace that deciphering its lyrics has been a project since its debut), the conversation around the message behind its delivery is reflective of the shifting cultural values of our times.
While websites such as M Live praise the song, saying that its “rapid-fire verse” is “the talk of hip hop fans in Metro Detroit,” other news and commentary websites, such as Yahoo News are pointing out the homophobic and misogynist lyrics that are seemingly getting a free pass from such reports.
No longer is it acceptable to simply praise an artist for their technical skill—although this is definitely still a practice—rap fans and cultural critics alike are taking a closer look at content, and Eminem, unsurprisingly, falls short of the expectations set by other pop artists who are making headlines by embracing LGBTQ issues and taking a different approach to what it means to be an artist.
Eminem’s strategy for proving his mastery of rap is three fold:
1. Rap incredibly fast
2. Call your competitors and detractors gay
3. Make excuses for why you are still bashing women
If you want to read about Eminem’s speed and skill, check elsewhere.
As far as calling your detractors gay, Eminem states that he will “be able to break a motherfuckin’ table / over the back of a couple of faggots” if they try to “get into a pissing match” with him over rap skills.
This is nothing new for the rapper, who has repeatedly used gay slurs in order to insult his competitors and assert his masculinity. He is relying on the much favored and still too often used argument that to call someone gay is to detract from their masculinity, and therefore, diminish their power. The idea is that gay = feminine = inferior.
The same idea feeds into his practice of bashing women, because when feminine = inferior, women are inferior to men and deserve to be “bashed” as well.
And Eminem really does mean bashing.
He ends his 6 minute tirade with “But if I can’t batter the women how in the fuck am I supposed to bake them a cake then?” commenting on his confusion over wanting to pamper and dote on the women in his life while also needing to assert his dominance over them using physical violence.
Quite the conundrum.
What’s at stake here is whether we as a culture will continue to support artists on technical skill alone, or whether the content of the message being communicated is as important as its style.