Eminem, the hugely popular rapper often denounced as homophobic, will perform a duet with Elton John, a champion of many gay causes, at the Grammy Awards Feb. 21 at Los Angeles' Staples Center. The du
Eminem, the hugely popular rapper often denounced as homophobic, will perform a duet with Elton John, a champion of many gay causes, at the Grammy Awards Feb. 21 at Los Angeles' Staples Center. The duet, rumored for weeks, was announced Friday by the Recording Academy/NARAS and confirmed by John in an interview in Saturday's edition of the Los Angeles Times.
John said Eminem came up with the idea. "I'm a big fan of his music, and I said I would be delighted to," the British superstar told the Times. "I know I'm going to get a lot of flak from various people who are going to picket the show." He added, "If I thought for one minute that he was (hateful), I wouldn't do it."
Eminem has drawn frequent criticism for his lyrics which include references to "fags," fantasies of raping his own mother, and jokes about domestic violence. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation called Eminem's participation in the event offensive and was particularly disappointed by John's decision to perform with him.
"It's hurtful," said Scott Seomin, entertainment media director for GLAAD. "It's embarrassing." Last year, the group honored John with an award for his efforts in fighting homophobia. "Elton's actions now totally violate the spirit of this award," Seomin said.
Eminem is nominated for album of the year for "The Marshall Mathers LP" and in three rap categories, including best rap album.
Recording Academy president/CEO Michael Greene said he has objections to the album, but that censorship has no place at the Grammys. "I have issues with the lyrical content of the album, no question about that," the Grammy chief said. "But again, art has its extremities and you can't really predict how they're going to play themselves out. This is one of the extremities for sure."
Greene said the song to be performed would be announced next week, but the Times reported the pair would perform, "Stan," which depicts a violent fan who becomes unbalanced when Eminem does not respond to his letters. The fan eventually kills himself and his girlfriend. John will perform the portion of the song that, on the recording, was a sample of a song by British singer Dido.
The Recording Academy/NARAS, which decided to put Eminem in the show, also chooses which songs are performed. "We dictate who performs what," Greene said. Christina Aguilera, Destiny's Child, Madonna, U2, 'N Sync, and Faith Hill have also been confirmed to perform.
CBS supports the decision, network spokesman Chris Ender said. "Eminem has been a force in the music world the past year and we believe there will be a lot of viewers interested in seeing him perform," Ender said.
The rapper, who is currently on tour in Europe, is provoking outrage there from gay rights groups and anti-drug activists. The opening date at Manchester, U.K.'s 15,000-capacity Evening News Arena was met with protests from gay rights groups outside the venue, unhappy at the homophobic content of his lyrics.
Then, during the show, Eminem asked for a show of hands from people in the audience who take drugs, before appearing to swallow an Ecstasy tablet and remarking, "the more I know I'm with some drug addicts, the more I feel at home". He added, "I hope these E's are good shit -- if they're not, you'll all be carrying my sorry ass home tonight".
Police later confirmed they would be reviewing footage of the concert and, if a crime had been committed, would arrest the star. The British tabloids reacted predictably, with one front page declaring "Send him home," while another simply read "Get out!" Ecstasy is still a sensitive issue in the U.K., after several high profile deaths of teenagers from the drug. Manchester itself is plagued by drug-related gang warfare and crime.
Eminem's two dates at the London Docklands Arena over the weekend followed a similar course, with the rapper coming on stage holding a chainsaw and replacing the lyrics to 'N Sync's "Tearing Out My Heart" with "Tearing Out My Ass." The drug-taking scene was also repeated, but the rapper later told police it was in fact chewing gum. There was no age restriction for entrance to any of the concerts.