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< Back to question What does Eminem's popularity say about racism in the US? Show more Show less

Eminem has cultivated and earned a reputation for his controversial lyrics. They have been called out for being sexist, violent, homophobic and racist. However, he remains an extremely popular artist. Why is Eminem's racism given a 'pass' by his listeners? And how does this relate to societal attitudes to racism?

Americans will let white people get away with more Show more Show less

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Eminem targets women in many tracks

Many of Eminem's tracks are verbally aggressive and violent-targeted at women who have angered him. Many people believe black men would have a harder time getting away with this.
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The Argument

Eminem is well-known for his lyrics that condone or describe harm inflicted upon women. His targets have included his mother and his ex-wife Kim, along with popular figures such as Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, and Lana Del Rey[1]. Among the most glaring and controversial examples of the rapper’s misogynistic and violent tendencies is “Kim”; released under the Marshall Mathers LP, the song portrays the brutal kidnapping and killing of his ex-wife[2]. The Marshall Mathers LP, arguably Eminem’s most violent album, in which he would frequently target Kim, his mother Debbie, and other women with lyrics about extreme cruelty, physical, or sexual abuse - was the fourth best-selling record of the decade[3]. It is also ranked #180 on a list of the most acclaimed albums in history[4]. Eminem uses shock value and misogyny in his lyrics to sell records; despite the inevitable controversy, his stories and jokes about inflicting violence upon women have helped his career rather than harmed it. He has transcended the boundaries of hip-hop; his songs have been played on commercial radio stations[5], he has been featured in popular magazines such as Rolling Stone[6] and Spin[7], and he has become the best-selling solo rapper of all time[8]. While horrorcore and hardcore hip-hop usually contain themes of violence and abuse similar to those in Eminem’s songs, black artists, despite being the majority of those associated with these genres, have not received nearly as much mainstream attention or praise. Eminem has outsold black solo rappers and groups who have arguably been more genre-defining, such as N.W.A., Rakim, Kanye West, and Jay-Z.

Counter arguments

Framing

Indirect racism is still prevalent in the American music industry. White musicians are more successful at selling black aesthetics than black artists.

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Proponents


References

  1. https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/6312265/eminem-vs-women
  2. https://genius.com/Eminem-kim-lyrics
  3. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20100106007077/en/2009-U.S.-Music-Purchases-2.1-2008-Music
  4. http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/album/A1082.htm
  5. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2001-02-21-0102210014-story.html
  6. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/eminem-blows-up-91979/
  7. https://www.spin.com/2019/02/eminem-interview-1999-slim-shady-lp/
  8. https://www.forbes.com/pictures/5a8f3a6b31358e79a28a0433/4-eminem-100-million-tie/#3cc8475ee4d9

This page was last edited on Thursday, 18 Jun 2020 at 20:20 UTC

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