Eminem’s four Grammy nominations, including a nod for Album of the Year, have revived protests from gay, lesbian and women’s rights activists, who say that his lyrics incite violence and that honoring him sends the wrong message to artists and the entertainment industry.
The rapper’s The Marshall Mathers LP, which includes lyrics that graphically depict violence against women and gays, sparked similar complaints when it was released in May, and again when it was honored at the MTV Video Music Awards in September.
“[Eminem's] lyrics are the most homophobic and hateful that GLAAD has ever seen in the past 15 years,” Scott Seomin, entertainment media director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said Thursday (January 4). “It’s a dangerous message to record labels and other artists — you can not only get away with any type of lyrical content, you can be rewarded for it.”
Michael Greene, president and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), the organization behind the Grammy Awards, said Thursday that he understands activists’ concerns.
“I would be incredibly surprised if they weren’t upset,” he said. “The entire nomination of Eminem — to take what is arguably the most repugnant recording of the year and go through the process of realizing that in many ways it’s also one of the most remarkable
recordings of the year — is going to make a lot of people upset.”
GLAAD hasn’t decided whether it will protest at the Grammy Awards ceremony, to be held February 21 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. But the group plans to discuss that option with the National Organization for Women, according to Seomin.
“It’s a sad commentary on the state of the record industry that records filled with violent and hateful images and lyrics — particularly violence against women — are glorified,” said Kim Gandy, NOW’s executive vice president.
Eminem could make amends by recording a public-service announcement about anti-gay violence, or donating some tour proceeds to gay and lesbian community centers, Seomin said.
The rapper’s management and label said they have no response to activists’ comments, and that Eminem has not decided if he will attend the Grammy Awards ceremony.
He was nominated for three Grammy Awards last year, and won two: Best Rap Album, for The Slim Shady LP, and Best Rap Solo Performance.
Greene said he hopes Eminem’s nominations this year — which also include Best Rap Solo Performance for “The Real Slim Shady,” Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for the Dr. Dre track “Forgot About Dre,” and Best Rap Album — will increase discussion of homophobia and misogyny.
“Those are issues that the arts are supposed to provoke,” he said.
The Marshall Mathers tracks that critics cite most frequently include “Criminal” and “Kill You.”
“My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/ That’ll stab you in the head / Whether you’re a fag or lez,” Eminem raps on “Criminal.” “Kill You” includes the refrain “Bitch, I’m’a kill you,” as well as this line: “Slut, you think I won’t choke no whore/ Till her vocal cords don’t work in her throat no more?”
Eminem has repeatedly said in interviews, as well as on the Marshall Mathers track “Stan,” that his lyrics shouldn’t be taken literally.
For more Grammy news, check out the MTV News Grammy Archive .