This is going to be a short post because I think the point is a pretty clear one. Let me start by saying, though, that I’m am not criticizing Eminem’s cypher. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. I thought it was powerful, and some of the bars were pretty wicked.
The great tragedy about Eminem’s cypher is that it is a clear indication that a single white man’s voice will continue to be leader than the collective voices of black Americans across the nation. For decades, black rappers have rapped about political issues. They’ve criticized presidents and other politicians. They’ve continued to write passionately about the challenges of racism, disenfranchisement, and police brutality. The music and lyrics have been an outpouring of the emotions of a population that has long suffered overt and covert forms of oppression.
This rap, by black artists, has largely been met with derisive resistance. Despite the popularity of certain artists, there has been a resistance and criticism of their work in equal measure. Despite all this noise, there has been stark attention paid to the political relevance of rap produced by black artists.
Eminem does one political rap, though, and it’s everywhere. I’m glad he did it; I’m glad it was loud and widely publicized. But let’s not forget that it still took a white man to make black voices heard, while the black voices stood silently in the background.