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Rap Sophistication

Eminem performing his freestyle rap at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons
Eminem performing his freestyle rap at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons

By Milette Millington

Published: November 1st, 2017

This year’s BET Hip Hop Awards highlight, for me, was Eminem’s freestyle rap. As a white rapper, he was able to portray a series of conflicting emotions felt by many Americans. Throughout the rap, Eminem “lobs numerous insults at the president and harshly criticizes him for his positions on issues ranging from international diplomacy to domestic unrest,” according to an Entertainment Weekly article.

One climacteric issue Eminem addresses in the verse is foreign policy under President Donald Trump’s administration. “But we better give Obama props/Cause what we got in office now’s a kamikaze/That’ll probably cause a nuclear holocaust,” he jabs. These lines are pointing out conflicts that Trump has escalated with countries such as Russia, Syria, Iran, and North Korea, and with terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, all within his first 100 days. When Eminem says that Trump is a “kamikaze/That’ll probably cause a nuclear holocaust,” he is saying that Trump is trying to put Americans at war against one another, according to the lyrical analysis by www.Genius.com.

Eminem also addressed racial injustice. “Racism’s the only thing he’s fantastic for/ Cause that’s how he gets his f***in’ rocks off and he’s orange/Yeah, sick tan,” he says towards the middle of the verse. Here, he is stating that Trump is only great at arousing confrontation. By referring to Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and a murderer as “some very fine people,” Trump uses divisive rhetoric to make his voter base happy. 

Marshall Mathers then went into the issues in the NFL. Several teams in the NFL have protested abuse and discrimination towards African Americans after Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee while the national anthem was played during a game last year. “He gets an enormous reaction,” Eminem says about Trump’s comments on these protests. “So we focus on that instead of talkin’ Puerto Rico or gun reform for Nevada,” he goes on to say. Trump should be more concerned about preventing events like the Las Vegas shooting from happening. He should be using his presidential power to assist Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, in recovering from such a tragedy. Black athletes have the right to protest against something affecting them, such as racial oppression and police brutality. Eminem makes the valid point that as a black athlete, “You’re a spoiled brat for/Tryna use your platform or your stature/To try to give those a voice who don’t have one.” This puts extreme emphasis on the fact that Eminem and black athletes are representing those who are afraid to speak about the oppression they face. 

This freestyle rap by Eminem was very realistic because of the subjects he addressed. His tone throughout was stern, which signified the importance of the national and international issues going on right now. 

Many people, such as Keith Olbermann, have never been fans of rap music but are now supporting Eminem and his message. These people were able to clearly understand the logical truth behind the lyrics of the verse, as I did when I listened to it several times. “The fact he used his platform to speak out about the issues currently plaguing our country is commendable on its own…. Since its inception, [his music has] been a voice for the voiceless and a way to speak up for the oppressed,” as mentioned in the DX article on this freestyle.

I strongly believe that Eminem’s rap career has earned him the right to use the hip-hop/rap platform to reach national audiences. The style and diction used in his freestyle and the growing intensities of the subjects discussed allowed massive audiences to get drawn in quickly; I don’t believe it had anything to do with his race. 

Other white people, in my perspective, should use their platforms to discuss issues like social and racial injustice. How should they do this? Authors could write books that would discuss these issues in-depth and capture their readers’ attention, while college and university presidents could propose a plan for more justice-related courses to their respective departments.

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