Maybe Now You'll Listen
Bearded Eminem used his time at the 2017 BET Hip-Hop Awards to lyrically eviscerate Donald Trump and his supporters. Normally, socially conscious rhetoric coming from this particular genre is not a surprise. For those who stay true to the roots of the artform, it’s expected, even from artists of the caucasian variety.
My biggest takeaway however, would be his drawing of the proverbial “line in the sand” for all of his fans who support our Commander-in-Chief. Essentially (literally) saying to them "Either you’re with him or me, and if you’re with him, then fuck you." Em’s segment itself wasn’t a particularly artistic display of rhyme and rhythm but, given the context that which we received it and the thought it was meant to provoke, I think we may have witnessed the most powerful moment in Hip-Hop for the year 2017.
Why? Well it’s more of a hope than a declaration:
You see, Eminem has been able to bridge the cultural divide between the two Americas are currently at odds with one another. He’s put a face to the struggles of the downtrodden who look like him by using an artform created by the people who don’t. He has fans in both circles and is held by many in the highest regard, not only for his message but for the highest form of execution of that very art that he exercises.
His use of his platform to say what people like Colin Kaepernick, Jemele Hill, and so many others have been saying - that we have so many people in this country who are suffering while President Trump turns the nation against itself - will (hopefully) force his fans, the particular ones who struggle to see things differently, to give some thought to the feelings of inequality in today’s society, is a profound hope of mine.
So the line is in the sand. Kaepernick is without a job because he brought all of this PR mess into the NFL. Jemele Hill is not going to be at work for the next two weeks because she tweeted her displeasure with a socially tone-deaf, conveniently ignorant, owner and his NFL team. Both used their platforms to peacefully explain the need for social justice.
Maybe hearing it from someone like Eminem will at least allow some people to see it from our perspective. Maybe. At least he won’t lose his job for talking about justice, freedom, and inclusion.