Eminem openly raps about stealing black music on his new CeeLo Green-assisted song “The King And I.”
For years, several successful white artists have been accused of stealing elements of black music and not giving the proper credit where the credit is due. Probably the most famous of them is Elvis Presley, known as “The King” by his fans.
In modern times that unpleasant accusation has fallen to Eminem, who has made many fans’ top five rappers of all-time list. There’s no disputing that to date, there has never been a more successful or influential white rapper like him. It’s been years that he has been accused of the same sin as Elvis, and in a recent track, which dropped today, June 16, he seems to admit that those who have dragged him over the coals may be right.
The apparent confession came following his debuting of a new collaboration with CeeLo Green, “The King and I,” which is ironically taken from the forthcoming film Elvis which was directed by Baz Luhrmann.
In the third verse, Slim Shady raps, “I stole black music, yeah true. Perhaps used it (For what?) as a tool to combat school/Kids came back on some bathroom sht/Now I call a hater a bidet (Why?)/’Cause they mad that they can’t do sht (Haha).”
The track is set to a sample of Presley’s 1957 classic “Jailhouse Rock.”
That’s not all. Eminem also goes on to show fans how similar he and Elvis are as he adds, “Now I’m about to explain to you all the parallels/Between Elvis and me, myself/It seem obvious: one, he’s pale as me/Second, we both been hailed as kings/He used to rock the Jailhouse, and I used to rock The Shelter/We sell like Velveeta Shells & Cheese (Woo!) (Let’s go!).”
There is one glaring difference, though, and that is while Slim Shady basically admits he stole from the black community for his career, Presley never did, and he was also accused of being a racist. Something he denied during a 1957 interview with Jet Magazine.
He was never trusted by the black or hip-hop community ever again and became a target for many rappers, including Public Enemy’s Chuck D, who in his mega track “Fight The Power” in 1988, once again accused Elvis of being a racist and not a king to the black community.
In the same interview mentioned above, Elvis said he always ensured that he paid homage to the black people who influenced his music. Something that never quite caught on in the black community as there was little evidence to show for the claims.
The question does arise from time to time as to whether those who make it in music are more successful because of the color of their skin. Another white rapper enjoying success in recent times is Jack Harlow, who has numerous hits on Billboard and is now extremely well known.
Even he has fallen prey to accusations of stealing the artform and using his skin to get ahead. Something that Top Dawg Entertainment‘s Punch tweeted about after Harlow’s “First Class” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The view was that Kendrick Lamar had to struggle a lot more than Harlow to get recognition. “Racism. Systemic racism. That’s the point,” the tweet ended at the time.
The difference between these artists and Eminem is the fact that he acknowledges that he would not be successful without the black influences in his life. He’s often said that he’s just a guest in the genre, which has pacified many. There’s also the fact that his background would suggest that there was no place for racism growing up, as poverty is always the ultimate equalizer.
In 2020, he was quoted as saying during an interview with KXNG Crooked he doesn’t want to be the king of hip-hop because nobody really can ever claim that title.
“Is there a king of Hip Hop? People say, ‘Just because you sell the most records doesn’t mean you’re the best. Even though you can rap 40 million syllables doesn’t mean you’re the best.’ I care more rhyming the syllables. I care more about the craft than any of the other stuff,” he said at the time.