For most of my young adulthood, Eminem
was the mouthpiece of angry, young white men. His music spoke to them specifically. He gave them something that was very much in demand for their demographic: a talented entertainer who looked like them, whose work was highly emotional in a distinctly masculine way.
Eminem's music was the emotional outlet that a lot of young white dudes (and a solid number of non-young, non-white, non-dudes) needed--his rage was and is relatable and cathartic. We're all familiar with the kind of anger that makes Eminem so good at what he does, but for most of us, such white-hot anger makes us totally speechless, blubbering, red-faced idiots. Eminem can articulate his rage. Even better, he can make it poetic, and he can use his rage to cut into his enemies. It's especially impressive considering emoting while remaining masculine is not something that's always possible in our culture. Eminem's rapid-fire, clever callout rhymes and devastating insults have made him hip-hop elite, though his humble beginnings are what make his brand of rap truly excellent. I'm a fan: "Rap God" is on my running playlist to this day--clocking in at 6 minutes and 2 seconds, the track gets my mile time down to almost exactly that.
Myself aside, Eminem's fanbase is solidly rooted in a demographic that voted for Donald Trump in 2016: white men from the middle class. And it's with this in mind that makes the video Eminem released yesterday particularly powerful.
Though this video was released during the BET Hip Hop Awards on Tuesday, the target audience for this freestyle are the 63% of white men who voted for Trump last November. They, along with the president, are the people Eminem is lambasting in the freestyle, using his popularity among them to impart this message: if you're with Trump, you're against Eminem. And you're probably against your own best interests, too.