On Thursday night (Dec. 7), Eminem once again set the Internet on fire with his six-minute record “Untouchable.” With exactly one week left until the unveiling of his ninth album Revival, a charged-up Eminem pounced on controversial topics including white privilege, systematic racism and more. He also took aim at crooked cops for their countless acts of racial profiling and unnecessary force against African Americans.
Take a look below as Billboard combed through Em’s intricate lyrics and decoded his new single “Untouchable.”
“Black boy, black boy, we ain’t gonna lie to you
Black boy, black boy, we don’t like the sight of you
Pull up on the side of you
Window rolled down, ‘profile’
Then we wonder why we see this side of you
Probably comin’ from the dope house
We could let you slide but your tail light is blew, out
We know you’re hidin’ that Heidi Klum
On you another drug charge, homie, it’s back inside for you.”
From the onset, Eminem takes on the perspective of a racist white cop. He taunts African Americans by spewing racial epithets such as “black boy” — which was commonly used by slave owners to degrade black men during the age of slavery. Then, he explores the ugliness of racial profiling and explains how African American drivers are often stereotyped as drug dealers with a criminal background. The “Heidi Klum” reference plays off the slang term for cocaine.
“And just in case a chase might ensue, we got that tried and true
Pistol drew right at you we’d be delighted to unload it
In your back, then walk up, and lay that taser on the side of you
Fucked up, but what the fuck am I to do?
I keep tellin’ myself keep doin’ like you’re doin’
No matter how many lives you ruin
It’s for the red, white and blue
Time to go find a new one and split his head right in two
No one’s ever indicted you
Why? ‘Cause you’re a…”
Midway through the verse, an in-character Em finds himself in a sticky situation. Though he’s fully aware that murdering an innocent black man isn’t the right thing to do, he finds peace and comfort deluding himself into thinking that he’s protecting his country, or as he raps, “the red, white and blue.”
“Black boy, black boy, we don’t get your culture and
We don’t care what our government’s done to fuck you over, man
Don’t tell us your attitude’s a result of that
Balderdash, where’d you get the chip on your shoulder at?
Why you kicking that soda can?
Pull your pants up, we ’bout to roll up and
Throw your ass in the van cuffed.”
Once again, Em is mockingly playing the role of a bigot who despises African American culture. Vexed by the their complaints regarding the government’s wrongdoings, the narrator slanders African Americans for their poor attitudes. “Pull your pants up, we ’bout to roll up and throw your ass in the van cuffed” refers to Freddie Gray’s 2015 death, when he was tossed in the back of a police van and sustained serious injuries. Gray died a week later, and many believed his death was a result of police brutality during his ride to the police station.
“Feels like we’re stuck in a time warp to me
As I kick these facts and get these mixed reactions
As this beat backspins, it’s like we’re drifting back in
To the sixties, having black-skin is risky, ’cause this keeps happening
Throughout history, African-Americans have been treated like shit
And I admit, there have been times where it’s been embarrassin’ to be a…”
Here, Em breaks out of his racist character and acknowledges that African Americans have been mistreated throughout history. He admits to feeling embarrassed by his own race for their behavior. Then, he goes a step further by saying that today’s political climate is reminiscent of the ’60s, because of the social unrest and turbulent relationship between whites and blacks.
“Seems like the average lifespan of a white man
Is more than twice than a black life span
I wonder sometimes if it has a price scanner
I feel like checking out on life, can’t escape this circumstance
I’d rather hear ’em say “Die N-word” than Die Antwoord
Ninja, now it’s better disguised banter
But that’s life, strapped ’cause we’re strapped financially
And can’t find answers
We’re applying, but McDonald’s
Seems to be the only franchise that’ll hire
So how can we have higher standards?
As Dallas overshadows the battle for Black Lives Matter
We fight back with violence but acts like that are
Black eyes on the movement
Which makes black lives madder
At cops and cops madder
That’s why it’s at a stalemate.”
In the opening lines of his third verse, Eminem examines whether white lives are treated as more valuable than black lives. He also mentions Die Antwood — a group that was ostracized for their 2012 video “Fatty Boom Boom,” which portrayed their female lead singer, Yolandi, protayed in black face. For Em, while dealing with in-your-face racism is a tough pill to swallow, he’d rather endure that than watch white people seemingly destroy the black culture with empty jokes.
Later, Em dives into the 2016 Dallas shooting, where five officers were shot and killed by Micah Xavier Johnson during a peaceful rally. According to Dallas police chief David O. Brown, Johnson’s intent was to shoot down white officers. “He said he was upset about the recent police shootings. The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”
For Em, Johnson’s killings didn’t help the Black Lives Matter movement, it only made tension between both sides worse.
“I wonder if we hire more black cops, the crap stops
The block is our backyards, officers, not the crack spot
Call the attack dogs off of us, man
You always act all pissed off at us at a traffic stop
And bad cops fuck it up for the good cops, and man, stop
Sendin’ white cops in the black neighborhoods
Who ain’t acclimated to ’em, like that’s the way to do it
Who seen some fuckin’ videos of rappers waving guns
And know nobody black so they act afraid of us
And that’s racism, the fear that a black face gives ’em
A subconscious racist
Wait, why are there black neighborhoods?
‘Cause America segregated us, designated us to an area
Separated us, Section-Eight’d us
When we tear it up’s the only time attention’s paid to us
And education sucks, and every day’s another
Freddie Grey for us, a levy breaks or fuzz
Why is it they treat us like dryer lint?”
Here, Em is rapping from the perspective of an African American. Once again, he tries to kill stereotypes by denouncing the “crack spot” as a hangout place for blacks. He’s also critical of naive cops who walk into black neighborhoods with no sense of understanding of their behavior or culture. Instead of walking with a fair mind and attitude, their level of fears heighten because of the unknown, and cause them to automatically be racists.
Em also calls out the country for placing African Americans in a system designed to make them lose. With Section 8 housing and a floundering education system in impoverished neighborhoods, there’s no way they can really win when the odds are stacked up against them.
“Just keep marchin’, ’til we reach congress
But they’re gonna say you’re tryin’ to take an irrational stance
If you try to slander the flag but
Somebody has to be the sacrificial lamb
So they call it a Kaepernick tantrum
If you don’t stand for the national anthem.”
While protesting is always an admirable solution, Em is aware of repercussions of it. Once again, he takes a knee along embattled athlete Colin Kaepernick, and shouts him out towards the latter part of his verse. In 2016, Kaepernick drew praise and criticism from differing corners when he stopped standing for the national anthem as a form of protest against police brutality.