On “Framed,” Eminem raps the kind of bars that have come to be known as “horrorcore,” full of violent and horrific imagery akin to the earlier hits “Stan” and “Kim” that made him famous. “She’s unaware in no underwear, she’s completely bare,” he raps, “Turns around and screams, I remember distinctly/I said, ‘I’m here to do sink repairs’/Chop her up, put her body parts/In front of Steven Avery’s trailer and leave ’em there.”
It’s the kind of subject matter that has always pushed me away from Eminem. Lyrical dexterity and technique wise, he’s one of the most gifted rappers of all time, but by god is his heinous music borderline unbearable. On his sophomore record, The Marshall Mathers LP from 2001, Eminem saw how his words and anger affected his listeners, such as on “Stan” and “Who Knew,” but his “awareness” didn’t come without hypocrisy.
Both tracks above immediate follow “Kill You,” a violent and threatening track towards critics and haters, and later “Kim,” a song where Eminem and his daughter dispose of his wife’s dead body in a lake after Em kills her screaming “bleed bitch!” He also presents some of the most homophobic material in hip-hop on the song “Marshall Mathers,” spitting off the word “faggot” so many times that it sounds like his place holder.
During his comeback period of Relapse and Recovery in which Eminem spends most of his time telling the story of his drug addiction and apologizing for his absence, Odd Future, the next generation of Eminem’s on the West Coast, were filling the void of violent misogynistic and homophobic music that Eminem left unattended.
However, where it took Tyler and the rest to get to their mid-20’s to realize that saying “faggot” and joking about raping women are pure acts of hate more than they are provocative performance, Em, now in his mid-forties, never really learned. He’s not only still comfortable with the above lyrics from “Framed,” but he’s apparently still fine with calling things “retarded,” like he does on the opener “Walk on Water,” which is surprisingly some of the tamest material on his latest release.
Revival, his second comeback record now, might be anti-Trump, as described in tracks such as “Like Home” and “Untouchable,” but it’s not completely against everything Trump represents. The one thing Eminem and Trump seem to agree on is that sexual assault is okay. Sure, murdering people and raping your own mother were things that Eminem has insanely covered before, but it’s never felt oh so horribly current as it does today:
Track 14: “Heat”
“Grab you by the (meow!), hope it’s not a problem, in fact
About the only thing I agree on with Donald is that
So when I put this palm on your cat
Don’t snap, it’s supposed to get grabbed
Why do you think they call it a snatch?”
Track 15: “Offended”
“You’re still copyin’, Xeroxing, I’m still coppin’ a feel
Like Bill Cosby at will, popping a pill
track 12: “Framed”
“Donald Duck’s on as the Tonka Truck in the yard
But dog how the fuck is Ivanka Trump in the trunk of my car”
For an album with an opener like “Walk on Water” about spending hours trying to perfect your rhymes, and a whole BET freestyle against President Trump, there sure is a lot of reprehensible behavior here on Revival. Even on “Untouchable,” a song where Eminem tries to raise awareness of racism in America to what I’m sure is a majority of white fans, he still comes across as a preacher out of his element, well-intentioned sentiments aside.
The two best tracks on the record, Castle” and the closing “Arose,” include material of Eminem dying from the pill overdose that almost killed him back before Relapse, only to go back in time and stop himself from taking the pills. It’s almost ironic that such a heartfelt two-track saga ends with a toilet flush.
Unlike the humanizing and confessional 4:44 by Jay-Z, or the emerging trends of trap, Jamaican patois, and jazz infused rap, Eminem seems to have stayed musically (thanks to rock-sampling Rick Rubin beats) and lyrically the same as he’s ever been. His anger might be turned more toward the Presidency now, but the language has never changed, it’s just Ivanka in the trunk instead of his ex-wife.
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.