Eminem Details The Making Of His Raging Freestyle Storm Against Donald Trump
One of the most memorable televised Rap performances of the last 20 years came courtesy of Eminem and Elton John. Although Dido famously sang on “Stan” (it was her would-be hit “Thank You” that producer 45 King sampled), the diamond-certified John stepped in during 2001’s Grammy Awards. Besides the great focus on “Best Rap Album” winner The Marshall Mathers LP, the moment symbolized an openly-gay man standing beside an MC who had used homophobic slurs in his lyrics.
One week ahead ofthe release of Eminem’s forthcoming new album, Revival, Interview magazine documents a conversation between Eminem and Elton. Em is also the subject for the mag’s Craig McDean-photographed cover. The two superstar artists discuss Hip-Hop music. Eminem describes his current listening diet, “J. Cole. Travis Scott. Kendrick [Lamar] is great. My friend Royce 5’9 is incredible. Joyner Lucas is really good. Tech N9ne, too.” He also speaks about his nine years of sobriety and the changes in his life since he was a user. “Getting clean made me grow up. I feel like all the years that I was using, I wasn’t growing as a person,” Eminem notes of a period approximately between 2001 and 2008.
Eminem tells Elton John about “The Storm,” the formal name to his 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards freestyle verse. For five minutes, the Detroit, Michigan superstar called out Donald Trump, by name. “It’s something that I’m definitely very passionate about. If I’m not passionate about it, I can’t write it. I can’t fake it,” says the MC about the tirade against the President as well as his supporters. He says that the verse was written, and intended to be performed at the awards show’s taping. Plans changed, but he does not specify why.
No longer before an audience, Eminem says he sought inspiration for his latest political moment from one of Hip-Hop’s most political groups: Public Enemy. “One of the things we were trying to mimic was Public Enemy’s ‘You’re Gonna Get Yours’ cover. I don’t know if anybody got that, but that’s kind of the feel that we were going for.” In 1987, Glen E. Friedman photographed the P.E. posse in full effect in a New York parking garage. For the Yo! Bum Rush The Show single about Chuck D’s Oldsmobile 88, the Def Jam picture cover 12″ showed that P.E. drove it just like they rapped it. Whereas the Long Islanders favored Olds, Em and his Shady camp encircled themselves with ’70s and ’80s Cadillac Fleetwoods, and one Buick Grand National T-Type. As Hip-Hop has a longstanding love affair with “pushing foreign,” both P.E. and Shady decidedly display homegrown cruisers.
Eminem continues, “My main concern was trying to get the message out and also memorize all the words. I have a hard time memorizing stuff. I’m always in the process of writing a new song, so trying to learn a new one takes a minute.” He says that those around him in the clip (including Royce, Boogie, Kid Vishis, Benny, Westside Gunn, and Conway The Machine) did not hear “The Storm” before he rapped it for cameras.
Lyrics in “The Storm” included sections like, “But we better give Obama props / ‘Cause what we got in office now’s a kamikaze / That’ll probably cause a nuclear holocaust / And while the drama pops / And he waits for sh*t to quiet down, he’ll just gas his plane up and fly around ’til the bombing stops / Intensities heightened, tensions are risin’ / Trump, when it comes to giving a sh*t, you’re stingy as I am / Except when it comes to having the balls to go against me, you hide ’em / ‘Cause you don’t got the f*cking nuts like an empty asylum / Racism’s the only thing he’s fantastic for / ‘Cause that’s how he gets his f*cking rocks off and he’s orange / Yeah, sick tan / That’s why he wants us to disband / ‘Cause he cannot withstand / The fact we’re not afraid of Trump / F*ck walkin’ on egg shells, I came to stomp / That’s why he keeps screamin’ ‘Drain the swamp’ ‘Cause he’s in quicksand / It’s like we take a step forwards, then backwards / But this is his form of distraction / Plus, he gets an enormous reaction / When he attacks the NFL so we focus on that / Instead of talking Puerto Rico or gun reform for Nevada / All these horrible tragedies and he’s bored and would rather / Cause a Twitter storm with the Packers / Then says he wants to lower our taxes / Then who’s gonna pay for his extravagant trips / Back and forth with his fam to his golf resorts and his mansions? / Same s**t that he tormented Hillary for and he slandered / Then does it more / From his endorsement of Bannon / Support for the Klansmen / Tiki torches in hand for the soldier that’s Black / And comes home from Iraq / And is still told to go back to Africa / Fork and a dagger in this racist 94-year-old grandpa.”
Of the whole display, Elton John reflects, “It needed to be said. I’ve been coming to America since 1970, and it’s like my second home, but I’ve never felt such a divided country, ever. I didn’t think it would get to this point, and it breaks my heart.” Eminem responds, “It was about having the right to stand up to oppression. I mean, that’s exactly what the people in the military and the people who have given their lives for this country have fought for—for everybody to have a voice and to protest injustices and speak out against sh*t that’s wrong. We’re not trying to disrespect the military, we’re not trying to disrespect the flag, we’re not trying to disrespect our country. But sh*t is going on that we want to make you aware of. We have a President who does not care about everybody in our country; he is not the President for all of us, he is the President for some of us. He knows what he’s doing.”
The Shady Records founder believes his call to action is a greater statement among the resistors. “As long as [Donald Trump has] got his base, he does not give a f*ck about anybody else in America. But guess what? There’s more of us than there are of them. I still feel like America is the greatest country to live in. This is my opinion. But we have issues that we need to work on and we need to do better.”
The artwork and tracklisting for Revival is as follows:
- “Walk on Water” featuring Beyoncé
- “Chloraseptic” featuring Phresher
- “River” featuring Ed Sheeran
- “Remind Me” (intro)
- “Remind Me”
- “Revival” (Interlude)
- “Like Home” featuring Alicia Keys
- “Bad Husband” featuring X Ambassadors
- “Tragic Endings” featuring Skylar Grey
- “Nowhere Fast” featuring Kehlani
- “Need Me” featuring P!nk
- “In Your Head”