Homophobia in hip-hop isn’t new. The insult has been used by battle rappers since the beginning, used to call their opponents “soft” and “weak” for being gay. Jay-Z, Nas, Meek Mill, Chance the Rapper, and a ton of some of the most celebrated rappers in the game have once said “faggot” in their music, and while most have learned the error in their ways, one of the biggest rappers on the planet seemingly doesn’t care.
Eminem, one of the highest selling rappers of all time, is no stranger to using “faggot” as an insult. His 2013 anthem “Rap God” uses the word in every verse, with lines such as “I’ll still be able to break a motherfuckin’ table over the back of a couple of faggots,” “You fags think it’s a game,” and “Little gay-lookin’ boy/So gay I can barely say it with a straight face.”
On “Fall,” his latest track, Eminem not only uses the word as an insult once more, but singles out Tyler, the Creator, a rapper that came out as a queer artist on his last record Flower Boy, for tweeting that his single “Walk on Water” was horrible.
dear god this song is horrible sheesh how the fuck
— Tyler, The Creator (@tylerthecreator) November 11, 2017
“You know, everybody’s been telling me what they think about me for the last few months, maybe it’s time I tell them what I think about them,” prefaces the track, with Eminem later rapping, “Tyler create nothin’, I see why you called yourself a f****t, bitch/It’s not just ‘cause you lack attention, it’s ‘cause you worship D12’s balls, you’re sacrilegious.”
Eminem has tried to defend his use of the word before, such as in a Rolling Stone interview following the release of “Rap God,” when he stated that “that word was just thrown around so freely back then,” to mean “punk, or asshole.” “It goes back to that battle, back and forth in my head,” he continued, “of wanting to feel free to say what I want to say, and then [worrying about] what may or may not affect people.”
However, Eminem doesn’t use the word as an insult like “punk, or asshole,” because when he says “f****t” in “Rap God,” it’s tied to being gay, and when he says it in “Fall,” it’s not only tied to a queer artist, but it also describes the opinion that homosexuality is “sacrilegious.”
The question of whether or not Eminem is homophobic is easy to answer. He is. You can get in front of Rolling Stone and say that the use of the word doesn’t involve hate towards anyone’s sexuality, but if you get in front of the mic and rap that a queer rapper is “sacrilegious,” then your opinions on the matter seem pretty f**king clear.
Eminem knows this is wrong, as he bleeped the use of the word in the song, and later censored it out of the video for “Fall,” and yet continues to promote it heavily. Nonetheless, as some have cited that Tyler also used the word as an insult in his music prior to Flower Boy, it ultimately doesn’t matter if he was or wasn’t offended by it, and it doesn’t even really matter that Eminem is homophobic because we don’t have to listen to Eminem’s music. What matters is that one of the largest rappers on the planet used a homophobic slur to perpetuate the idea that being gay is wrong and makes a person “weak.”
Eminem’s language was simply inexcusable and that’s the only way it should be discussed. It was heart-breaking to see the lack of response from music journalists and fellow artists following the song’s release. The music industry and his fans continue to support his career, and there aren’t enough voices speaking out against what Eminem chooses to include in his music. What we can do instead, is spread love, help others see how their words and toxic beliefs harm those around them, and give artists that are doing truly amazing things the spotlight they deserve.
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.