Following the surprise release of Eminem’s album, Music To Be Murdered By, last Friday, veteran radio host, Ebro Darden, took to Twitter this week to share his loaded opinion on the artist’s position within the hip hop community.
“Eminem treats Rap how Black folks have had to treat life… be 5x better, work 5x harder than everyone and still not necessarily get respect,” Ebro wrote. This comparison quickly sparked a heated debate, and Ebro followed up his initial claim with, “You can absolutely hate Eminem musically. What you cannot say as a HipHop fan is that is a wack rapper…”
He then clarifies what he means, insisting that while Em may be successful, he still has to work harder to gain respect in the hip hop community. “People confuse success and respect,” he tweeted, followed by, “Eminem’s success comes from him being white, he’s even said it. Lack of respect also comes from him being white. The disdain for him comes from him being successful @ something Black people own. His love for the culture is why he worked so hard to be great and get respect.”
Ebro took the argument over to his show, Ebro in the Morning, on Friday, elaborating on his point about conflating success with respect. “There are people who will fix their lips to say that Eminem is a wack rapper. You may not what he talks about, you may not like the sound of his voice, you may not like his music, which I would debate is probably because he’s white and it’s racial anyway, but let’s assume that it’s not,” he said. “His skill set as a rapper? If he is privileged—and he is—the fact that he cares this much about being great in hip-hop and being respected? Yo, the entire album that he just put out: shouting out the greats, paying homage, flexing his rap skills.”
“The disdain that people have for Eminem is mostly because he’s white…Eminem cares so much about hip hop, he put out a letter yesterday,” he continued, referring to Em’s message to fans in which he clarified the intentions of the album and warned them not to misinterpret the project. Ebro goes on to emphasize why his initial comparison makes sense. “Eminem operates in a space that is dominated by black folks. He’s had to pay his dues, be made fun of, be second guessed. That’s just how it works. Black folks have had to do that every single day. And he’s also had to prove himself over and over and over again. You know what black folks still have to do right now in America? We still have to prove ourselves all the time.”
While Ebro’s co-host, Peter Rosenberg, agrees with parts of Ebro’s argument, he illustrates the key difference between Eminem’s so-called struggle within hip-hop and black people’s struggle just to exist. “The difference is when you’re a white person in hip-hop, you’re opting in. Black people have to do that every day to live life in America. No option,” he pointed out. “I could complain to you about the breaks I don’t think I get and the benefits of the doubt I don’t get. But guess what? I’m opting to chose with my privilege to be involved in hip-hop, so I can’t sit here and cry when people go, ‘Shut up, Rosenberg, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ So the same with Eminem, but he’s not crying about it…What makes Eminem great is that he didn’t want that, he wanted the respect from black culture. That’s what Eminem cared about. That’s what makes him so iconically great: He cares about what matters.”