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Millennials Make Listening to Eminem Feel Cringe.

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Eminem’s new music is tempting cancel culture, and Matthew taps into the cultural divide.

Marshall Mathers, otherwise known as Eminem, has been a global icon since his debut in the late 90s and has flourished in the hip-hop industry ever since. In the early stages of his career, Mathers was known for being edgy and vulgar. A lot of the lyrics that made Eminem popular back in the day wouldn’t fly on today’s radio, but Millennials are using that fact to try and make Gen Z look like crybabies.  

Eminem became popular under the influence of rapper and producer Dr. Dre, who co-produced all his studio albums. His first several albums produced some of his most popular work including: “My Name Is,” “Without Me,” “The Real Slim Shady,” and “Stan.” Eminem’s first three albums came out in 1999, 2000, and 2002 and were classics to anyone who listened to them. Maybe that is why Millennials are so offended in 2024 that his newer music is getting laughed at.  

Mathers has released six albums since 2010 and only one of those six albums has been given a rating higher than six on the website Pitchfork. Compare that to Eminem’s second studio album, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” that received a rating of 9.4. 

So, what is it that millennials are so worked up about if Eminem’s music hasn’t been performing up to his previous standard?  

It appears that cancel culture is once again putting Gen Z in the spotlight. According to a Forbes article from 2021, a small trend on TikTok began in 2021 where members of Gen Z were calling to cancel Eminem over some lyrics from “Love the Way You Lie,” featuring Rihanna. 

If she ever tries to f***ing leave again, I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire. 

This lyric is understandably uncomfortable for some listeners; however, this doesn’t warrant the cancelation of Eminem. Especially when Eminem has entire songs like “Kim,” off “The Marshall Mathers LP” that describes a fictional scenario in which Eminem’s ex-wife Kim Mathers cheats on the rapper, which leads to Eminem eventually murdering her and putting her in the trunk of his car.  

Following this small wave of cancelation, Millennials decided to pour videos onto TikTok claiming that Gen Z were “Too Woke” to understand Eminem and his edginess. One video from TikTok user gained a lot of traction online for the wrong reasons. Her video starts off with her claiming that Gen Z is trying to cancel Eminem, followed by a rap about how great Mathers is on top of the “Forgot About Dre,” beat from Dr. Dre’s studio album titled 2001. 

The video received 5.4 million views within the first four days and although it was met with some praise from fellow Millennials (and the New York Post), the video was spread across social media like a wildfire with many individuals claiming the video is cringe and that it did the opposite of supporting Mathers, making the situation laughable.  

Gen Z continued to laugh at the Millennials who made similar videos trying to act tough while praising Mathers, and for Millennials it only got worse. On May 31, Eminem released a new single titled, “Houdini,” that once again got large praise from Millennials who this time claimed that Eminem was back to his edgy and provocative ways that started earlier in his career. 

Again, TikTok was flooded with videos with captions like, “Gen Z wants to cancel Eminem? Wait till they hear his new song, he’s back to his old ways.” 

If Eminem was seriously back to his old ways, I think people would be happy. Yet, he isn’t. Eminem’s new single is another example of him appealing to his Millennial fans, who seem to be the only ones holding on to his new music. While he does have an appealing flow and his lyricism is still the best creatively, he’s fallen into the same trap the Millennials did of making a small situation into something larger than it seems.  

On Eminem’s song “Realest,” with Ez Mil from 2023, he responds to the apparent Gen Z cancellation with a lyric that is vulgar like old Eminem, but coming from a now 51-year-old man, it’s quite distasteful.  

The song contains lines that take shots at how young Gen Z is: 

 “Gen Z is actin’ like rap experts zip up your gaps and close your mouths / B**** you ain’t been on this planet long enough to tell me how rap’s supposed to sound.” 

Followed by a particularly sensitive bar that mentions the tragic and rampant amount of school shootings seen by the generation: 

“Y’all need to stick to what you do best shootin’ schools up yeah go load up rounds / In your parents’ gats and go to class and let off with the strap and go to town.”  

I guess millennials got what they wanted from that? Under a post on X about the lyric, I found many comments that said similar things.  

“Eminem made whole Gen-z mad with just 4 lines, love to see comments and quotes here,” @yashsayings said. 

“Lol we love to see it. Gen Z is a whole generation of failures and clowns,” @shadiestone88 said.   

Despite those comments, many of the reactions under the post were similar to mine, in the sense that they thought it was distasteful and weird coming from someone his age.  

“Does Eminem not realize he’s dissing his fanbase with that school shooting line lmao,” @konorsmind said.  

It’s odd seeing someone as respected within the music industry as Eminem fall trap to these small cancelation claims. A very small portion of Gen Z made TikToks in support of cancelling the rapper so it’s weird for him to respond to that criticism when the lyric from “Love the Way You Lie” was not as controversial as many of his older lyrics. 

I don’t think that the majority of Gen Z wants to cancel Eminem. His music is timeless, and his edginess is what made him popular. However, I would argue that Gen Z does have an issue with his music. The issue being that his music isn’t up to the same standards as his older work. If Eminem wanted respect from Gen Z all he would need to do is make quality music, not songs that are distasteful. 

It seems like Millennials are more upset in this situation than Gen Z is. With Gen Z constantly having the label put on us that we are “easily offended” Millennials chose to go that route with the beef due to Eminem’s vulgarity in his music. Even though his best work is edgy, that doesn’t mean that Eminem needs to be overly indecent to be considered good. Eminem has made tracks in his previous work like “Hailee’s Song,” that describe Mather’s protective nature of his daughter Hailee that are not offensive at all and still resonate with audiences today. 

The issue is that Mathers isn’t producing the same quality of music he did 20 years ago and can’t relate to younger audiences. I worry for Eminem because if he continues down the rabbit hole, his legacy in the music industry could be tarnished. “The Slim Shady LP,” “The Marshall Mathers LP,” “The Eminem Show,” and “Encore” are all considered classic albums from Eminem, but if he keeps releasing albums that don’t resonate with new audiences, his greatest works will be forgotten.  


Matthew Yokum is a third-year communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

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Matthew Yokum
Matthew Yokum, Senior Writer
Matthew is a third-year communication major from Chickasha. He also works in USAO's Sports Information Department. If you see Matthew on campus, ask about his dog, Stormy!   Experience with The Trend: Senior Writer: May 2023 - present Contributing Writer: Aug. 2022 - April 2023