Will the real Slim Shady be cancelled?
On Friday, rapper Eminem appeared to respond to a TikTok campaign seeking to “cancel” him by releasing a lyric video for his 2020 song “Tone Deaf.”
Efforts to “cancel” the rapper, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, appears to date back to a February TikTok, in which someone—who appears to have been banned from the app—played a snippet of Eminem’s 2010 song “Love the Way You Lie,” featuring Rihanna, from his album Recovery. The song includes the lyric: “If she ever tries to f***ing leave again, I’ma tie her/to the bed and set this house on fire.”
The video plays the audio and features someone looking into the camera with the text “Yesssss lets [sic] cancel him” displayed.
Eminem released the “Tone Deaf” video on Friday, although the song was first released as part of his extended 2020 album Music To Be Murdered By — Side B. Besides featuring the lyrics on screen, the clip shows a cartoon version of the rapper acting out the things that he says in the lyrics such as getting into car chases and playing video games.
In a tweet sharing the video, Eminem appeared to reference the controversy by sharing the lyrics to the song: “I won’t stop even when my hair turns grey (I’m tone-deaf)/’Cause they won’t stop until they cancel me,” he raps on the chorus.
Despite the seemingly shocking nature of the line that the original TikToker shared in her video, questionable lyrical content had long been a staple of Eminem’s discography. The rapper has regularly boasted about his ability to cross the line in his music since early in his career and has mocked people who have called his music offensive, most notably on his critically acclaimed 2000 album The Marshall Mathers LP.
Even though the original video calling for Eminem to be cancelled appears to have been deleted, many Stans—a term that Mathers coined himself, but has since become a regular part of the pop music dialogue—have come to the rapper’s defense, while the pushback from millennials in supporting Eminem appear to far outweigh the calls for people seeking to cancel him.
Some argued that the rapper has made far more offensive music than “Love the Way You Lie.” One person even noted that the rapper’s debut single (“My Name Is”) opened with the line: “Hi kids, do you like violence?”
Other fans have appeared to take the call for cancellation a little more seriously and personally. One TikToker rewrote the lyrics to Dr. Dre’s song “Forgot About Dre,” which features Eminem, to criticize Gen Z for not respecting Eminem. Although the TikToker addresses the calls to cancel him, she appears to take more issue with the “mumble rap” style that’s more popular today than Eminem’s mile-a-minute delivery.
Given the ferocity that millennials responded to the seemingly half-hearted attempt to cancel Slim Shady, users on Twitter roasted millennials who grew up with the rappers’ music. YouTuber and critic Anthony Fantano shared the “Forgot About Dre” parody and sarcastically tweeted: “Checkmate, zoomers.”
Despite being the butt of many jokes, Eminem fans are considering the “Tone Deaf” video drop a win, and Shady will live to be cancelled another day.
Newsweek reached out to the Universal Music Group, which Eminem’s label Interscope Records is a part of, for comment.