Do you remember the first time you thought Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had hit rock bottom? By now, we’ve learned that there’s no depth that Donald Trump and his team won’t sink to. And today, like most days, marks a new low. Because when Eminem thinks that your presidential campaign is in poor taste, you know that you’ve reached a historically unprecedented political nadir.
That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday, when the all-but-retired rapper announced an upcoming album on his social media. The resurgence of the reclusive, real Slim Shady was accompanied by a link to the rapper’s newest song, “Campaign Speech.” As far as we can tell, “Campaign Speech” is a diss track against the misogynistic, homophobic Trump, as well as the haters who malign Eminem for being a misogynistic homophobe. If you needed another reason to give up on 2016, it appears that we have officially entered the year of white rappers putting out sincere, extended political statements (#WhitePrivilege).
Much like Donald Trump himself, Eminem appears to be aging backwards. The rapper’s first attempt at getting political, in the 2004 track “Mosh,” was a much more realized call “to disarm this Weapon of Mass Destruction / That we call our President.” While Detroit’s finest fell a bit short of dismantling the military industrial system, his pointed attacks against George W. Bush and the notion of “blood for oil” earned a modicum of liberal respect for the unabashedly homophobic performer. Although the rapper’s political statements are few and decades in between, his lifelong dedication to “making fun of all the fucked up shit in the world” all but ensured that Eminem would eventually weigh in on Trumpocalypse.
This eight-minute long freestyle has the unexpected consequence of revealing a host of similarities between the white rapper and the off-white candidate. Eminem somehow manages to rival Donald Trump’s phallocentrism; in a Marshall Mathers freestyle, all roads lead back to the rapper’s own penis. In “Campaign Speech,” this lifelong leitmotif manifests itself in lyrics like “All 'cause I offered this bitch a doggie biscuit you call me misogynistic / Bitch get to massagin' this dick.” You know—locker room talk.
Eminem and Donald Trump are both masters at stringing unrelated words together while sounding angry. What “Campaign Speech” lacks in a cohesive, political message, it more than makes up for with unlimited, far-reaching cultural references. While the freestyle is inarguably too long, it is somehow also way too short considering everything it tries to take on, including (but not limited to) race in America, European History, the futility of monogamy, and Edward Norton. This is a great song if you’ve ever wondered what rhymes with Dylann Roof or if Eminem knows who Agatha Christie is. But if you’re looking for a potent, distilled anti-Trump argument, you’re better off looking elsewhere—or turning inward and contemplating why you considered taking political advice from Eminem in the first place.
Of course, Eminem does take this opportunity to spit a few lines against the aspiring Cheeto-In-Chief. In one particularly powerful tirade, he raps, “Consider me a dangerous man but you should be afraid of this dang candidate / You say Trump don't kiss ass like a puppet / ‘Cause he runs his campaign / with his own cash for the fundin’ / And that's what you wanted / A fuckin' loose cannon who's blunt with his hand on the button/Who doesn't have to answer to no one” Eminem’s self-righteous sarcasm is pretty biting here, but it’s no “Trumped up trickle-down economics.” That was a real zinger.
Unfortunately, “Campaign Speech” heads downhill quickly, descending into a dystopian vision of Slim Shady’s own imaginary candidacy. The premise here is solid; specifically, that Donald Trump and Eminem would be equally unqualified and dangerous Presidents. But in execution, this theory just leads to a solid two minutes of absolutely vile campaign promises—the sort of unprintable stuff that Billy Bush forces you to say while he’s giving you a wedgie in homeroom.
Of course, Eminem has made a career out of unabashedly talking like Donald Trump on the Access Hollywood bus. Even after admitting that he’s been criticized “a million times” for using misogynistic language and homophobic slurs, Eminem has stood by his right to routinely insult and deride his listeners and fans. This is a man who looked Anderson Cooper in the eye and defended his constant use of the word “faggot,” knowing full well that his mic was on.
Various cultural crimes aside, the rapper’s biggest career shortcoming is his inability to make a solid comeback. Like so many presidential candidates, Slim Shady fails to back up his “Campaign Speech” with real action. While Eminem may have initially promised to “dunk a bunch of Trump supporters underwater,” his eight-minute long tirade is mostly bitch jokes and bluster.
Ironically enough, Trump actually endorsed Eminem’s own faux presidential campaign back in 2004. That publicity stunt included the Donald being named “Joint Chiefs of Cash” at a staged Slim Shady “convention.” Clearly, Eminem is bitter that Trump made their ludicrous, caustic convention a political reality, leaving the washed up rapper behind in the process.