The main event at the annual BET Hip Hop Awards tends to be the prerecorded cyphers, in which a collection of rappers, both newcomers and vets, take turns spitting rhymes. This year was no different, with Eminem taking center stage (or rather, center parking garage) on a verse that quickly had social media abuzz. Performing a cappella, the rapper devoted all of his thoughts to Trump, mixing in low-hanging fruit—he’s orange, just like The Thing in Fantastic Four!—with disgust over the president’s responses to Puerto Rico, gun control reform after the Las Vegas shooting, and Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest.
Kaepernick himself tweeted appreciation for the verse, as did LeBron James and other celebrities. It’s easy to see why—rage at the current administration feels as though it’s percolating at an all-time high especially in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and Eminem perfected the art of rage in pop music long ago. The nostalgia factor shouldn’t be discounted, either—as with most musical artists who rise to prominence based on youthful energy, he’s struggled with staying culturally relevant as he’s transitioned into his 40s. A vicious verse presented like this definitely feels like a return to form.
But most of all, it’s the end that hits the hardest, in which he acknowledges that many of the same people who have loved his music probably voted for Trump: “And any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his/ I’m drawing in the sand a line, you either for or against.” Eminem and Trump probably share more in common than the rapper is willing to admit—homophobia, misogyny, a keen ability to profit off of white male anger—but at least we know where Slim Shady stands on the military.