Eminem‘s “Rap God” is a return to Slim Shady form, to the delight of some rap fans (particularly, those who had Kendrick Lamar‘s “Control” verse on repeat) and dismay of some critics (this site, The Week: “the same regressive, lazy garbage he was spewing in 2000″). Amid the feedback, Boy George has taken to Twitter to criticize the single’s use of the word “fag.”
Known first as Culture Club frontman and now as a DJ, Boy George admits that he has yet to hear “Rap God.” Still, he’s managed to keep up with Eminem’s on-goings since 2000′s The Marshall Mathers LP, when he had criticized (the openly gay) Elton John‘s praises in particular. In several tweets, Boy George cites the rapper’s highly-publicized sobriety following an addiction to prescription pills. “Fag? Is this really recover talk or are you running your own program these days?” he says.
Although he’s barely changed his argument since the first MMLP, Boy George has a point that’s ironic — considering a 2009 interview with Em himself.
Metro Times: “So who have you learned the most from in your life? And is there anybody’s career that you look to for support and insight at this point in time?”
Eminem: “Um, well, Elton John.”
But how does Em use the term “fag,” anyway? “Rap God” quickly escalates into a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde transformation (“Six minutes, Slim Shady, you’re on”), one that Rap Genius initially struggled to transcribe in its entirety. Before his id-driven, cringe-worthy rampage inspires him to rap, “So gay-I-can-barely-say-it-with-a-straight-face-looking boy” in between veiled disses at Waka Flocka Flame and Soulja Boy, Em chalks up his “rap immortality” to the very same disses that Boy George critiques.
“Well, to be truthful the blueprint’s simply rage and youthful exuberance / Everybody loves to root for a nuisance,” Eminem raps. If anything, “Rap God” should be considered all of what documentary Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes had criticized — rap’s ugly history of hyper-masculinity, homophobia, glorified violence and sexism — thrown back at our faces, in six minutes, no less.
So does “Rap God” sting? Absolutely — just not for the same reasons that Boy George or The Week provided. When Boy George tweets about “that time Em was so hot we forgave him for almost anything,” he’s likely referring to the first MMLP, the one that John praised. And that album wasn’t, as The Week says, “lazy” — it was his version of The Shining, with the most bile piled on the two women closest to him, his mother and the mother of his child. It was as if the once-bullied kid had finally figured out how to fight back, and it forced listeners to think of how anyone could go mad.
So as Eminem defaults back to Slim Shady, it’s worth asking: Will MMLP2 (out November 5) inspire the same sort of forgiveness? Ultimately, it will depend on how unforgiving Eminem is to himself.