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Revival or Career Destruction?

By Celina Simmons

In December of 2017, Marshall Mathers, or the man more commonly known as Eminem, released his ninth studio LP, and critics have many mixed opinions on it. Although some people are supportive of “Revival,” most of the feedback has not necessarily been constructive. But after almost four years of silence from the best-selling hip-hop artist of all time, Eminem’s intentions were not to make his critics happy. Rather, he wants to use his words and publicity to convey his point of view on some of the political and social issues that our country is currently facing.

Mathers makes many bold statements about sensitive topics in our country throughout “Revival.” For instance, the song “Untouchable” is evidently about the Black Lives Matter movement. He raps about specific incidents of police brutality, such as the events with Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was shot to death by a white officer in 2015. Many of the critics are saying that this is not new news, and he agrees with them. During an interview with Michel Martin, a weekend host on “All Things Considered,” he said, “They’re for sure not new thoughts … I’m saying that this is the perspective from the racist white cop. This is what got me infuriated, and two years ago got me so flustered I couldn’t even write about it because my thoughts would get too scattered.”

Eminem shares his counterargument to President Trump’s intents with our country in his song “Like Home.” He shares his personal frustration towards the president when he says “Can’t denounce the Klan, ‘cause they play golf with ya … all you got are race cards … I guess it pays to feed off chaos.” He is targeting Trump, basically suggesting he works with the KKK, is racist, and just continues to thrive off of the disputes and arguments he is creating within our society.

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Illustration by Vanessa Poirier

He accuses him of dividing us by banning transgender people from the military, and claims “he generally hates black people, degrades Hispanics.” Eminem has shared in interviews that he is very disappointed with the way that our president is handling the situations our country is in, and this album was a key tool for him to create social awareness.

Some critics have said that “Revival” is one of Eminem’s worst albums yet and that it was fueled by self-doubt, bad gags, and political anger, but let’s not forget who we are talking about here. Eminem has shown us glimpses into his mind of self-doubt and mental illnesses, from “Rock Bottom” off “The Slim Shady LP” to “Brainless” off “The Marshall Mathers LP 2.” Because of those serious topics that he does talk about, he can use those corny jokes and gags to almost find an equilibrium. Politics are also not a new subject for Mathers. He has incorporated political views in his rhymes since the beginning of his career with songs like “White America,” “Who Knew,” and “Mosh.”

Perhaps critics are overlooking Eminem’s message in “Revival.” They are critiquing him for his “lack of style” that he carried throughout his career or for his corny rhymes rather than looking at why he released this album. During his interview with Michel Martin, when asked whether his intentions were to share his stand on the issues or to help people see them that didn’t before, he responded with, “Well, both, but it’s more about hopefully being able to open people’s eyes with it… Hopefully between his song [“I’m Not Racist,” by Joyner Lucas] and mine we can open some eyes and maybe keep the movement going, and the conversation.” Eminem makes it clear that he does care about what is happening in our country, and instead of falling into the mainstream rap style, he is using his talent and fame to broaden the attention for those political and social issues he addresses.

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