So is this the real Slim Shady?
Notoriously profane rap star Eminem has for years been criticized for lyrics that routinely use slurs of all flavors, not to mention violent and abusive rhetoric. Now the rapper has decided homophobic slurs are fair game once again, releasing a new single, "Rap God," which references "faggots" and "gay boys."
More than six minutes long and chockfull of lightning-fast braggadocio, "Rap God" -- off the upcoming album "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" -- includes Eminem boasting in the first verse about how he'd like to "break a motherf----r's table over the back of a couple faggots and crack it in half." Later on in the second verse, the rapper includes the following description in a long riff on different kinds of "boys":
Little gay-looking boy / So gay I can barely say it with a straight face-looking boy / You witnessing massacre like you watching a church gathering taking place-looking boy / 'Oy vey, that boy's gay,' that's all they say looking-boy / You take a thumbs up, pat on the back, the way you go from your label every day-looking boy.
While part of this verse appears to reference a single by Hot Stylze called "Lookin' Boy," the gay imagery is troubling, given the current state of hip-hop and rap, according to The Week's Scott Meslow.
"Since the height of Eminem's popularity, hip-hop's biggest names have made major strides to tear down the once-entrenched homophobia of the genre," Meslow comments. "With The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem had a similar opportunity to demonstrate growth as both an artist and a human being — and once again, he failed to take it. Instead, he's turned his considerable talents as an artist to the same regressive, lazy garbage he was spewing in 2000."
Despite the blatant use of pejorative terms, many critics have been quick to praise the single, lauding its lyrics and quick-fire delivery. "Read the Amazing Lyrics To Eminem's 'Rap God,'" gushed Vibe Magazine's John Kennedy, while Time's Per Liljas called the new single "divine."
Reaction was decidedly mixed online, however, as many people took to Twitter to voice disapproval of the rapper's language. Several tweeters contrasted the lyrics with "Same Love" singer Macklemore's work to eradicate homophobia in rap.
Anyone who follows Eminem's career knows this isn't the first time the rapper has been accused of homophobia. In 2001, Eminem attempted to counter such claims by performing his hit single "Stan" as a duet with Elton John at the Grammy Awards. At the time, advocacy group GLAAD issued a statement decrying the collaboration and calling Eminem's music "hateful."
The rapper appeared to have turned a corner in 2010, however, when he announced his support for gay marriage.
"I think if two people love each other, then what the hell? I think that everyone should have the chance to be equally miserable, if they want," he told The New York Times Magazine.
Attempts to contact Eminem or his manager were unsuccessful.