On Tuesday night at the annual BET awards, Eminem unleashed a verbal tirade against President Donald Trump the likes of which we haven’t seen in the two-plus years since the real-estate mogul emerged on the political scene.
“All these horrible tragedies and he’s bored and would rather cause a Twitter storm,” the rapper, whose given name is Marshall Mathers, said at one point. He labeled Trump “‘a kamikaze that will probably cause a nuclear holocaust” at another.
Lots of the rest of the lyrics in the rap, which ran more than four minutes, can’t be printed here. You should go watch it all.
What’s as important as the words Eminem says are the way he says them. He’s angry. Really angry. He shouts. He huffs and puffs. He stalks around what looks like a parking garage with a group of African-American men standing silently behind him.
It’s rage and disbelief all pouring out over the course of 270 seconds.
What Eminem captures in those moments are emotions that lots and lots of people – Democrats, yes, but also plenty of other people too – are experiencing in the age of Trump. How did this happen? What does it say about our country that we we elected Trump? What does it say about us? And, again, how could this happen?
Back in February, a Pew poll asked people how Trump made them feel. About 4 in 10 said “angry” – a number that inlcuded two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. A majority of people (52%) said that Trump made them feel “uneasy,” including 80% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. And that was in February – long before Trump’s botched handling of Charlottesville, Virginia, or his ongoing attacks on NFL players.
The level of anger, frustration and I-can’t-believe-he’s-doing-this-ness has grown exponentially since then. People are mad as hell. They’re also scared. And totally unsure of what comes next.
(To be clear: There are plenty of people who are thrilled with how Trump has handled the presidency to date and who see Eminem and the rest of the “coastal elites” as deeply out of touch with the average person.)
Eminem’s rap touches on all of those emotions. That it comes from a white rapper who has spoken publicly about his struggles to find a way to navigate between black and white culture in America makes it that much more telling and powerful.
“All my life I’ve been dealing with my race because of where I grew up (Detroit) and being in the rap game,” Eminem has said. “I’m at a boiling point… Anybody who pulls the race card is getting it right back in their face.”
That appears to be exactly what he’s done in this rap. He’s taken two years of emotions about Trump and gone directly at a man he believes is purposely dividing the country along racial – and cultural – lines for his own political benefit.
The rapper, of course, is something short of a perfect messenger. Eminem has been a lightning rod for controversy due to comments – in his music and not – that have been described as misogynistic and anti-gay.
At the same time, what Eminem is channeling in this latest freestyle is very real. This line in particular: “He cannot withstand the fact that we are not afraid of Trump. Walking on eggshells? I came to stomp.”
You can very easily see that becoming the new motto of the organized resistance to Trump.