Never one to shy away from controversy, Eminem weighed on on the polarizing United States presidential election Wednesday with the release of “Campaign Speech.” A nearly eight-minute freestyling opus, the track — lauded as the ultimate Donald Trump diss track — features allusions to Trump’s spray tan and Marshall Mathers saying, “You consider me a dangerous man, but you should be afraid of this dang candidate.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time the Shady Records boss has tackled hot-button issues facing the nation and thrown himself in the middle of the action. Throughout his lengthy career, here are six times Eminem took a political stand, from speaking out against George W. Bush’s war on Iraq to showing love to President Obama.
1999: Using His Rhyme Artillery Against Hillary
From his infamous debut, 1999’s The Slim Shady LP, the song “Role Model” features the rapper’s typical no-holds-barred style. Ripping apart everything from the stature of celebrity culture to how people perceive him (two topics that would later become hallmarks of his discography), Em managed to throw in a Hillary Clinton reference back when she was first lady during President Bill’s second term. Here, Eminem doesn’t sugarcoat things when he says, “Hillary Clinton tried to slap me and call me a pervert/ I ripped her f—ing tonsils out and fed her sherbet.” Allusion to something that actually happened or a figment of his vivid imagination? (Probably the latter.)
2002: Touching on Race like a Rap Ace
Eminem’s “White America,” the opening track from his fourth album 2002’s The Eminem Show, features the artist touching on everything from race in America to the color of his own skin. In addition, the track includes Eminem’s thoughts on the subject of freedom of speech and the decision to put “Parental Advisory” stickers on albums thanks to Tipper Gore and Lynne Cheney, both wives of former vice presidents. “To spit liquor in the faces of this democracy of hypocrisy,” the rapper offers in some of the harshest lines of his career, before getting even more blunt: “F— you Ms. Cheney, f— you, Tipper Gore.” As if that weren’t enough, the video for “White America” features a rendering of the U.S. Constitution being torn to shreds with the entire track opening with a shot of a “Parental Advisory” logo — naturally.
2003: The George W. Bush Pushback Track
Former President Bush has been the rapper’s favorite target over the years, with Eminem objecting to his policies and leadership skills. First released as a single in 2003 (and then later on the deluxe edition of his album Encore) is the track “We As Americans,” another protest anthem that created a firestorm that December — and not just because of the rapper’s fiery rhetoric. On the song, Em belts out, “F— money, I don’t rap for dead presidents/ I’d rather see the president dead/ It’s never been said, but I set precedents.” As everyone is well aware, alluding to seeing the president of the United States dead will get you investigated by the Secret Service, which is exactly what happened. Em was never subsequently disciplined, and the Secret Service presumably moved on to other, more pressing matters.
2004: Fighting Back Against the War on Iraq
When the country was in the throes of the intense political debate regarding George W. Bush’s order to invade Iraq, Eminem unleashed the protest track “Mosh.” Also included on his album Encore, the blistering track, which begins with a chorus of kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, was timed for the 2004 presidential election between Bush and John Kerry. It featured Em urging his fans to vote W out of office. “No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our own soil,” he spits on the track. “No more psychological warfare to trick us into thinking that we ain’t loyal.”
2008: Love Grows for Barry O
Upon the election of President Barack Obama, Eminem was asked in a 2009 interview what he thought of our nation’s newly elected leader and made clear he was a fan. “Obama is great,” he said. “He’s giving people hope. I certainly voted for him.” Em even went on to say that Obama “certainly has his head on his shoulders and he speaks with authority and confidence.” Fast-forward to 2016 and Barry even used the 8 Mile classic “Lose Yourself” to pump himself up before July’s Democratic National Convention.
2015: Making a Chump out of Trump
Back when Trump was a punch line fighting for the Republican nomination (as opposed to a punch line fighting for the presidency), Eminem sounded the alarm during a Sway in the Morning freestyle on Em’s SiriusXM channel Shade 45 one short month after the businessman announced his candidacy. The rapper eloquently rhymes, “I’m f—ed worse than Donald Trump/ On Lexapro in Mexico across from a Texaco in McDonald’s drunk.” However, Em doesn’t let Hillary Clinton off the hook either, noting, “But Hillary, I promise to wipe my server clean if you face subpoenas.”