“It’s the calm before the storm right here,” is how Eminem opens his freestyle cypher for the BET Hip Hop Awards. Quoting a recent comment from Donald Tump— before he turns his words on Trump himself. Raw, almost shaking with emotion and frustration, he completely tears down the racism, hypocrisy, and contemptuousness of the President. You can hear a pin drop in the background while line after powerful line flows out of Eminem. It’s a startling, arresting, and inspiring moment.
“This is big because it’s sincere, you feel our anger and frustration in his verse,” Misan Harriman, founder of What We Seee, explains. “This is the most important Cypher ever, by one of the greatest living musical icons in the modern era. How important is HIP HOP? Like jazz, it is one of America’s only original art forms and it must be weaponised to shine a light in the darkness of nation Trump. Take a bow Marshall Bruce Mathers… ”
And he really should. The bravery, the lyrics, the vitality pouring out of this is a damn triumph. Lyrics like: “Plus he gets an enormous reaction/ When he attacks the NFL so we focus on that and/ Instead of talking Puerto Rico or gun reform for Nevada/ All these horrible tragedies and he’s bored or would rather/ Cause a Twitter storm with the Packers” show that he’s not afraid of anything. And that he’s one of the few artists ready to channel their art into taking the toxic Trump presidency head-on. It’s not just a criticism, it feels like a call to arms.
It’s chilling, it’s galvanizing, it’s outstanding. See the whole thing here:
Eminem has never shied away from politics. He’s never had a problem making his thoughts known. But this feels different. Maybe it’s his ability to weave so many of Trump’s failings— the NFL, the Las Vegas shooting, Puerto Rico, North Korea, attacks on Hillary Clinton— all together. It’s a work of art and an act of protest. And he reminds how important it is for us to keep fighting.
“That’s why he wants us to disband
cause he cannot withstand
the fact we’re not afraid of Trump
Walking on egg shells, I came to stomp.
That’s why he keeps screaming, ‘Drain the swamp,’
cause he’s in quicksand.”
It’s called ‘The Storm’ for good reason. We’re in the middle of one— and it shows no sign of stoping. Trump may be in quicksand, but he manages to disrespect, offend, and punish group after group of Americans. He may be more frustrated and flailing, but nothing seems to be teach this man an ounce of empathy or humanity. So thank you, Eminem, for this. You said it like nobody else could.