Eminem's lyrics about Ariana Grande concert bombing called 'disrespectful'
Eminem had an unexpected gift for fans early Friday — a surprise album. However, his lyrics about a 2017 deadly bombing at a Ariana Grande concert were immediately criticized as "deeply disrespectful."
The Detroit rapper released his 11th album, “Music to Be Murdered By,” a 20-track project with guests such as Ed Sheeran, Juice WRLD, Skylar Grey and longtime hometown compatriot Royce da 5’9.”
In one of the songs, "Unaccomodating," Eminem raps: "I'm contemplating yelling 'bombs away' on the game/Like I'm outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting."
Almost three years ago, a suicide bomber struck as fans were leaving Grande's show at Manchester Arena. The terrorist attack claimed 22 lives.
The Detroit rapper's reference to Grande's concert bombing had people on Twitter criticizing Eminem for his insensitive bars calling them "disrespectful."
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, England, criticized the song in a statement to the BBC. "This is unnecessarily hurtful and deeply disrespectful to the families and all those affected," Burnham said.
"Eminem literally just made a joke about the manchester bombing at ariana grande’s concert... that is just so (expletive) sick, y’all better not give this man any attention. people literally lost their lives, and you’re going to release music and try to make a profit off of them?" wrote @sweeterheavens.
"Eminem really made a joke about manchester attack in his song and that’s just disrespectful bc he used ariana’s full name. no, he can’t get out of this. this is just way too (expletive) much," wrote @voguegrandey.
"Eminem literally just used a horrific terrorist attack that killed 22 innocent adults/children for a punchline in a song. i am disgusted," commented @troyxvi.
"Nah Eminem I was rooting for u but then heard that Ariana line... that’s (expletive) ain’t funny," wrote @elmira_tchagop.
USA TODAY has reached out to Eminem's reps for comment.
The midnight drop was accompanied by a video for the song “Darkness,” a six-minute saga that unfolds as a grim tale of anxiety and substance abuse before revealing its layered meanings: a glimpse into the mind of the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooter and a metaphor for Eminem’s own angst as a stage performer.
The video portrays Stephen Paddock as a frustrated, drug-addled killer looking over the gathering concert crowd outside his Vegas hotel room before opening fire. (Paddock killed 58 people at the Route 91 Harvest country festival in October 2017, before police found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.)
Eminem’s lines, delivered atop a piano bed by Detroit musician Luis Resto, play off the dual idea of “killing” in the performance context — as the rapper himself is later seen as a lonely artist stepping onstage to wow a stadium packed with fans.
“It's 10:05 p.m. and the curtain starts to go up / And I'm already sweating / But I'm locked and loaded / For rapid fire spitting for all the concertgoers,” he raps.
The clip, posted overnight to YouTube, ends with a forceful appeal for gun-law reform by the 47-year-old rapper, whose progressive political views have become increasingly pronounced in his work.
“When will this end?” a title card reads. “When enough people care.”
The rapper then touts voter registration with a link to vote.gov.
“Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America.”
With its references to curtains, pills and isolation, “Darkness” taps themes that have long played out in Eminem’s music, and the track’s lyrical twists are likely to garner comparisons to his 2000 hit “Stan.”
It’s not the first time he’s cited the 2017 Vegas massacre in song. He rhymed about “gun reform in Nevada” as part of his anti-Donald Trump rap on the BET Awards that year.
Eminem’s stance on firearms reflect a long evolution on the topic: The rapper born Marshall Mathers was famously arrested in June 2000 for brandishing an unloaded gun during a Royal Oak run-in with an associate of rival rap group Insane Clown Posse. He was arrested the next day for pistol-whipping a man he spotted kissing his wife outside a Warren bar, and ultimately received two years’ probation for possession of a concealed weapon.
“Music to Be Murdered By” arrived much like Eminem’s 2018 album, “Kamikaze” — a midnight release with no advance notice. Its title and cover art are an explicit nod to a 1958 album of eerie bachelor-pad music presented by filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.
Contributing: Brian McCollum