Eminem drops 2002-era song in 2024, replaces digs at white pop stars with dig at Megan Thee Stallion

OPINION: In the new Eminem single, Megan Thee Stallion has to be wondering how she got in it.

Rapper Marshall "Eminem" Mathers claps during the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza on April 25, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I feel like I’m experiencing deja vu. I suppose that’s the point, though, of Eminem’s new single “Houdini,” where the now 51-year-old digs right back into his 2002-era bag for a song that in the 13 hours it’s been live has amassed almost seven million views on YouTube. Eminem is … back. 

With frequent collaborator Dr. Dre in tow, Eminem does that thing that he used to do when he’d drop a new single purely intended to drum up controversy; he takes shots at pop stars (more on this later), talks about how folks can’t stand him and frequently tries to push the envelope of just how inappropriate he can be while providing some sort of social commentary about his place in the world. 

All that was cool back in 2002 when Eminem did have a target on his back. Back then, Eminem was frequently used as an example of how music can lead people, especially “the youth,” astray. It is for that reason that his very uneven album, 2000’s “The Marshall Mathers LP,” is often considered a classic album — the good songs really shined a light on just how ridiculous society’s penchant for looking to blame art for parental and personal deficiencies. 

It is not 2000. Eminem might still garner attention, and he is still quite clearly a very talented wordsmith and is going to move units, but Eminem is no longer a boogeyman; Eminem was always best when his back was against the wall. Eminem and Ice Cube shared this same trait — the more people seemed to hate them, the better their art. 

Eminem’s art stopped being universally worthy of note years ago (at some point, even his most ardent detractors stopped paying attention to him and moved on), but that almost doesn’t matter. Eminem has such a huge fan base that even bad Eminem releases top the pop charts upon their release. Eminem is a notorious studio rat and has released at least 10 commercially successful studio albums. The haters don’t matter financially, but apparently, Eminem has been listening, and well, Slim Shady — his most outrageous and obnoxious alter ego — has one last run in him. 


Maybe that’s how we ended up with a song like “Houdini,” which doesn’t sound much like Eminem’s recent projects but more like the opening salvo of one of those monster albums from his early career. It’s full of schtick, accompanied by a completely outlandish, cartoonish video primed for MTV’s TRL … which ended in 2008. It was in songs like “Houdini,” which samples The Steve Miller Band’s hit 1982 song “Abracadabra,” where Eminem would have his inappropriate fun taking shots at the pop music darlings of the day. Christina Aguilera, Limp Bizkit, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey (who either he did or did not date), and Britney Spears all caught stray shots from Eminem. Ironic, since Eminem seemed to often mock their huge success while also literally being of the same ilk. To be clear, some of those shots were in jest, but the barrage of disses at the pop stars of the early 2000s was in earnest. 

Except, those people don’t even exist anymore. The boy bands and the machine-driven pop star are kind of a thing of the past. Sure there are huge artists out there but are they the same artists his audience will instantly recognize? Maybe, maybe not. Eminem decided to hedge that bet with a wildly unnecessary bar about Megan Thee Stallion being shot in the foot. He raps, “If I was to ask for Megan Thee Stallion if she would collab with me, Would I really have a shot at a feat?” Obviously, feat is a homonym for feet. To call that lazy and beneath even Eminem would be an understatement. Eminem is a rapper who had bars that were worthy of studying. This was a low-hanging fruit bar for the sake of doing this on his huge comeback single to illustrate that he’ll say anything he feels like. And it falls flat. It’s just dumb. 

Also, there was a time when stuff like that would just be annoying, but everybody would have to move on. It’s 2024, and Twitter fingers are a thing. And a white boy that the culture has given a pass to because of his co-signs and talent isn’t likely to get the same ho-hum response as he once might have. Especially considering that Megan Thee Stallion really has been through quite the ordeal in which she was actually shot. Why Eminem would waste a punctuating bar on this is as nonsensical as Drake doing it. I would wager the bar doesn’t hurt Meg’s feelings or change her life, but if I were her, I’d be like, “Just … why?” 

Maybe Eminem is searching for an enemy in Black women to give him something to rap about again. He wouldn’t be the first white man to disrespect Black women just because he could. It’s just an odd choice; but then again, I don’t really expect legions of Black male rappers to question Eminem so she’ll just have to take it and move on. Even LeBron James chimed in and shouted out Eminem for the song; le sigh. 

Hopefully, Eminem will come with better work than this on his soon-to-be-released album, “The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grâce)” though it probably won’t matter. I only listened to “Houdini” because of the reference to Meg. I’m not even his target audience anymore. It is 2024 after all. 

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio and host of the award-winning podcast, “Dear Culture” on theGrio Black Podcast Network. He writes very Black things, drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).