Kai Bradley-Gutiérrez de Terán
On October 6, 2017, the BET, Black Entertainment Television network, music awards took place with wins by Kendrick Lamar for best album of the year, DAMN, and best lyricist of the year, and Cardi B. for the best new hip-hop artist. Among all the winners and nominees was legendary hip-hop veteran Eminem, who has sold over 100 million albums worldwide, with a freestyle.
Eminem’s freestyle, called The Storm, is one of the most vibrant and explicit attacks against the new President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, since YG’s “FDT” released in July of 2016.
Eminem, known for his angry rap style, not to mention his amazing flow and creativity with words at getting his message across, rapped “And any fan of mine/who’s a supporter of his/I’m drawing in the sand a line/you’re either for or against/and if you can’t decide/who you like more and you’re split/on who you should stand beside/I’ll do it for you with this/Fuck you,” and ended with giving the middle finger to the camera. Eminem took a risk of losing fans and supporters with this line, as he is very popular in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming, all states in which Trump won by a large majority and states which have been known for their ties to alt-right and white supremacist movements, which have since Trump’s election increased their presence all over the country. This risk increased my respect for Eminem tremendously.
He showed that people in his position have to take a stand for what they believe in. He even acknowledged Colin Kaepernick with the line “This is for Colin, ball up a fist,/and keep that shit balled like Donald the bitch.” Colin Kaepernick thanked Eminem on Twitter, as LeBron James, J. Cole, T. Pain, and many other Black celebrities did.
He takes a shot at President Trump, rightfully in my opinion, for his lack of empathy and respect handling the crisis in Puerto Rico after the devastating hurricane Maria. Trump suggested that Puerto Rico did not deserve the US government’s help as they had a bad infrastructure system and went on to personally attack the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, Puerto Rico, on Twitter. Eminem also mentioned in his freestyle how the hurricane Maria, which affected not only Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean, but many areas of the South of the US, seemed to bore Trump as it took him almost a week to mention Puerto Rico being more interested in ranting against NFL players and teams for taking a knee during the national anthem.
One of the most powerful lines of Eminem’s freestyle, The Storm, I believe is “What we got in office now is a kamikaze that will probably start a nuclear holocaust.” Pointing out how Trump is very self-centered and is looking out for his own personal advancement.
Eminem ends the freestyle “The rest of America stand up,/We love our military, and we love our country,/But we fucking hate Trump.” Which shows that to be a patriot is not to love the president but to love the country and to care for its people. It also made a direct counter-argument to Donald Trump, as he has said that kneeling during the national anthem was being disrespectful towards the military. Trump has tried to use the idea of patriotism and love for the army in an attempt to criticize his opposers.
Eminem is and has been very respected in the hip-hop world for his flow and also because he is one of the first white rappers to be considered “a great.” He has also worked with many other hip-hop legends such as 2Pac, The Notorious BIG and Dr. Dre. Even though he is in a predominantly African-American music industry, he has had amazing success. Eminem uses his platform to criticize the president of arguably the most powerful country in the world, the US, and also the president with the lowest approval ratings in the past 50 years.
At SLA, much of the community is against Trump and his administration and what they stand for. In comparison, Eminem is widely liked by those who appreciate hip hop and rap music and even by others who understand his skill level. It is understandable because of this, that when I have conversed with classmates at SLA, the general view is that Eminem slammed Trump and put him in his place.
Being a figurehead of white masculinity and ego, which has created and fueled hate and division for centuries in this country, Eminem went completely against this hate showing that people of privilege in this country can, and should, step up and take a risk to defend what is right and be a voice for those who are not allowed to have one.
While this freestyle does a very good job of sending a clear anti-Trump message it does have a weak flow. However, a choppy rap is expected in a freestyle as Eminem had to come up with all the words on the spot, showing his creative and innovative aspects. I guess not every song can be like “Rap God,” which got him in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most words in a hit single.”
This freestyle inspires me to take a risk to give a voice to those who are silenced and to show empathy and sympathy to those being attacked in these times of division.
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