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Eminem released a surprise album, Kamize, late Thursday night—and he’s still mad at the president.
On album opener “The Ringer,” the rapper says that President Donald Trump “just sent the Secret Service to meet in person to see if I’m really thinking of hurtin’ him, or ask if I’m linked to terrorists.” According to Genius, it’d make the second time the Detroit star’s lyrics inspired a visit from the feds; President George W. Bush also investigated Eminem in 2003 for violent lyrics. A few lines later, he takes aim at Trump’s veep about his past apparent support of conversion electroshock therapy for gay people: “I take my ballsack and flick it like a light switch, like Vice President Mike Pence.”
It may not be a refined screed of dissent, but Eminem has consistently challenged his fans about politics in the past few years. He seems grumpy that his army of middle-class Slim Shadys was apathetic this time two years ago as Trump garnered upset electoral wins across the Midwest. Whereas fellow Detroit star Kid Rock smirked at the idea of a politically incorrect president, Eminem has fumed at the thought.
Of course, on the artist born Marshall Mathers’ 10th album, he also takes digs at Harvey Weinstein and newcomer colleagues like Lil Pump. “Tried not 2 overthink this 1 … enjoy,” he wrote on Twitter upon dropping the record. As of Friday morning, “Eminem” and “#Kamizake” are the top two Twitter trends in the U.S.
Sonically, the project features longtime regulars—you almost think he did this as a favor to Royce da 5’9” so his boy could get some royalties—but also head-turning names like indie rock hero Justin Vernon. Mike Will Made It and Drake fave Boi-1da are the highest-profile producers on the liner notes. There’s also a song set to be included on the upcoming Venom soundtrack.
Fans seem to like it. Particularly comedian and fellow resistance entertainer Kathy Griffin.
18 years after appearing in Eminem’s video for the “The Real Slim Shady,” I just found out he gave me a shoutout in the title track of his new album #Kamikaze— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) August 31, 2018
Mama’s still got it...💅🏼 pic.twitter.com/abSgilFmy7
It’s been a complicated era for Eminem. He’s loose on social media, 10 years sober, and eager to use his platform to target personal antagonists like the National Rifle Association. December’s Revival was mournful and apologized for his past violence against women but also featured a kidnapping fantasy involving Ivanka Trump. This summer he upset fans by using gunshot-sounding effects at a large mainstream festival and then doubling down on it.
At 45, he’s still a pop star and idol. He’s still something of a contradiction. He may not be in peak form as a rapper, but the real Slim Shady is still plenty interesting—and standing up to Trump.
Ramon Ramirez is the news director, and formerly the Dot's entertainment editor and evening editor. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Grantland, Washington City Paper, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Monitor.