Eminem shocked fans when he dropped a surprise album late on Thursday night. The album, Kamikaze, takes aims at various people who he believes have criticised him in the past, including the likes of Tyler the Creator.
The rapper opens the title track by saying, “You know, everybody’s been telling me what they think about me for the last few months, maybe it’s time I tell them what I think about them," before criticising both rap in general and his former recording artist Joe Budden.
“Somebody tell Budden before I snap/ He better fasten it, Or have his body bag get zipped/ The closest thing he’s had to hits/ Since smacking bitches,” he raps about Budden. However, it was what he said about fellow hip hop artist Tyler the Creator that has caused an outrage.
This same track aims a homophobic slur at Tyler, who was critical of Eminem's new material in 2017. Although censored in the track, the use of this word is for many, an unnecessary and offensive choice. Here's the line:
"Tyler create nothing, I see why you called yourself a f*ggot, bitch / It's not just 'cause you lack attention / It's 'cause you worship D12's balls, you're sacrilegious / If you're gonna critique me, you better at least be as good or better"
It's believed this is a direct response to a tweet Tyler put out, supposedly about Eminem's 'Walk on Water,' where he posted “dear god this song is horrible, sheesh how the fuck". As you can expect, many people were frustrated that Eminem was still using the slur in his songwriting in 2018.
The criticism isn't exactly a new one for Eminem, who has been using the word in songs for a lot of his career. If anything, his bleeping out of the word only goes to highlight that he knows that it's not an acceptable word. The rapper has spoken about homophobic lyrics in the past, and defended his actions.
"Those kind of words, when I came up battle-rappin' or whatever, I never equated those words [with being gay]," he told The Rolling Stone in 2013. "It was more like calling someone a b*tch or a punk or ***hole."
Regardless of intent, the word does have a connection to being gay, and has been used as a derogatory term for gay people for years, often in instances of traumatic discrimination.
Others, however, pointed out that Tyler the Creator has his own long and complicated history of using the word.
UK prime minister Theresa May actually banned Tyler from the country, due to her opinion that his lyrics encouraged "intolerance of homosexuality". But it gets even more complicated following the release of 'Flower Boy'.
Much of the criticism fell to the wayside when his latest album effectively served as a 'coming out' for Tyler, who heavily hinted himself to be a queer artist.
In an interview with Arsenio Hall in 2013, Tyler defended the right to use the slur. “That’s just a word, you can take the power out of that word,” he said. “The way that I see things, it’s you that chose to be offended if you care about stuff like that.”
While it seems likely that Tyler wouldn't be offended by the word personally, it's clear from the context that Eminem meant as an insult in the song itself. And despite the fact that its use, and worse, was commonplace in the past, times are clearly changing.