Marshall Bruce Mathers, otherwise known as Eminem or his alter ego Slim Shady, dropped a surprise album on the 17th of January 2020. For fans, this was like hitting the jackpot at online casino, and like his previous album, 2018’s Kamikaze, Eminem made no prior announcement before rolling out Music To Be Murdered By.
Considering how fiercely competitive the music industry is, most artists know they need to create hype before launching an album to increase sales. This is not the case for Eminem, who has had a career spanning 25 years. In that time, he’s become known for his rap skills and ability to write pithy zeitgeisty lyrics. He’s had feuds with everyone from Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey, to Will Smith and Fred Durst. The insults he’s traded with these and other stars, over various songs, have kept us entertained for years. But now, his latest provocative lyrics are dividing music fans.
In the 2nd song from the 20-track Music To Be Murdered By, Unaccommodating, Eminem makes several references to well-known personalities and recent events. The list includes MMA star Anderson Silva, who sustained a horrific leg injury during a fight, and serial killer John Wayne Gacy. He even talks about Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Ayatollah Khomeini, and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre. The words that have generated the biggest response of all have been about the terrorist bombing at the 2017 Ariana Grande performance in Manchester.
Music To Be Upset By
The lyrics concerning the heinous attack, which killed 22 people and injured far more as they were leaving the concert, are as follows:
“But I’m contemplating yelling ‘Bomb’s Away’ on the game.
Like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting.”
The artist has been labelled as sick for writing these words. Listeners took to Twitter to vent their rage, whether they were die-hard Grande fans – called Arianators – or not. They even created a hashtag, #EminemIsOverParty, for their comments. Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham released a statement that condemned the song as deeply disrespectful and unnecessarily hurtful.
The entire album seems to be a take on modern society, reflecting and criticising popular opinions in the same way that Kamikaze did. Mathers has credited legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, someone else who had a macabre worldview, with inspiring his 11th studio release.
Mathers strikes the same pose on his cover as Hitchcock did, and the albums also share a name. Clips of the filmmaker’s trademark dry humour are also interspersed between the 20 songs. In addition, Mathers concludes his record with the same words that Hitchcock used:
“If you haven’t been murdered, I can only say better luck next time. If you have been, goodnight wherever you are”.
Interestingly, Grande herself has not commented on the lyrics causing all the furore. And Eminem’s fans’ defence of their idol has been just as loud as the Arianators’ criticism. They quickly reminded everyone that Mathers also raised millions for the victims of the Manchester attack, and credited the artist with shining an uncomfortably accurate light on current issues.
Eminem himself responded to the critics on Instagram, explaining that murder has become so commonplace in modern society that he wanted to make a spectacle of it. Sections have been designed to shock people, he added, and it is not an album for the squeamish or the easily offended.
Perhaps the most noteworthy point here, is that the apparently boorish lyrics of some tracks are balanced by the sensitivity of others. For every Unaccommodating, Mathers has also included a Darkness. This song is written from the perspective of Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock, who opened fire at a music festival. Ultimately, he killed 58 people and injured a further 413. Darkness is a very difficult song to listen to, and the music video ends with a call for stricter gun control. Eminem remains an enigma and, in the eyes of his supporters, an important mirror to today’s world. Many people argue that the man is a poet of the people, and he has certainly gotten everyone talking with this release.