| October 25, 2019 09:50 AM
It’s hard to find an entertainer in the music industry who hasn’t made headlines for criticizing President Trump. In fact, as Taylor Swift fans learned, being vocally political seems to have become a requirement post-2016. So when Eminem started blasting the commander in chief, it wasn’t all that surprising.
In the deeply troubling (and polarizing) song Framed, Eminem explains how to get away with murder, even if that includes offing the president’s daughter.
“ Donald Duck’s on, there’s a Tonka Truck in the yard/ But dog, how the f–k is Ivanka Trump in the trunk of my car?” he raps. “ Plus I feel somewhat responsible for the dumb little blonde/ Girl, that motherf–kin’ baton twirler that got dumped in the pond.”
When the hit came out in 2017, listeners were disturbed. And when Eminem rapped the next year that he was questioned about this by the Secret Service, he wasn’t kidding. A new report from BuzzFeed found that the Secret Service contacted the rapper about the “threatening lyrics” in the song.
Of the 40 pages of documents acquired by the outlet, much of the material was redacted, though it revealed that the Secret Service, which interviewed Eminem in January 2018, questioned him about Framed and the lyrics of his freestyle at the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2017 (“ That’s an awfully hot / Coffee pot / Should I drop it / On Donald Trump? Probably not / But that’s all I got / ‘Til I come up with a solid plot.”)
Agents decided not to refer the case to a federal prosecutor, and that was that.
This means Eminem was evidently telling the truth when he rapped about the incident in his 2018 hit The Ringer. ” ‘Cause Agent Orange just sent the Secret Service / To meet in person to see if I really think of hurtin’ him / Or ask if I’m linked to terrorists / I said, ‘Only when it comes to ink and lyricists,'” he said.
Eminem was never plotting violence against Trump, though you can’t blame the Secret Service for investigating. In the end, the inquiry revealed something much more interesting than a half-boiled plot to pour coffee on the president. It reminds us that Eminem has joined the #Resistance, and it has made his rap boring. After Eminem’s BET freestyle, writer Jordan Darville at the music website Fader lamented, the “political rap was anti-Trump but without much substance.”
At the end of the freestyle, the rap’s literal “f–k you” to Trump supporters came as little surprise. “Eminem’s freestyle isn’t bold,” Darville wrote, “But it has the appearance of boldness.”
If your lyrics boil down to a repetition of “orange man bad,” you’re not really making art anymore. Like Kesha’s Rich, White, Straight, Men and Taylor Swift’s You Need to Calm Down, Eminem’s political music has proven that picking the “right” villain isn’t all there is to art. In fact, it has quickly become cliché.