Eminem drops his controversial single “Houdini” | The Triangle
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Eminem drops his controversial single “Houdini”

Photo courtesy of Siobhan Pollard | Flickr

“If I was to ask for Megan Thee Stallion if she would collab with me, would I really have a shot at a feat?” raps Eminem in his new song “Houdini.” The track, which serves as the lead single to his upcoming album, is currently making waves in the pop culture world for every reason you can think of. This lyric, for example, is one reason why the song has gotten so much publicity, even more so than other recent Eminem songs. The bar references the 2020 shooting incident which fellow rapper Megan Thee Stallion was involved in, in which the rapper was shot in the foot by fellow musician Tory Lanez. This immediately brought loads of attention to the track, for both good and bad reasons and once again put Eminem in a precarious position in the public eye, a spot that he has stepped in and out of over his career.

Over two decades ago, such was normal for the Detroit rapper, who made a name for himself with edgy lyrics,  subjects and an incredibly explosive personality, to say the least. However, in the years since then, Eminem has grown and matured and seemingly no longer had that thing that set him apart from the crowd, leading to a stretch of releases that felt bland and overall underwhelming. Leading up to the single, people were not sure what to expect; would it be more of the same? Or rather something similar to what made Eminem who he is? If the track’s reception is any indication, then the latter is definitely more accurate, as the track displays a version of Eminem that had been gone for over a decade.

Eminem begins the song by interpolating his 2002 hit “Without Me,” repeating the phrase “Guess who’s back,” over a playful sample of the Steve Miller Band song “Abracadabra,” whose chorus is also redone by Eminem in the song. Just a few bars into the first verse, Eminem recites the Megan Thee Stallion line. This is far from the song’s only questionable line, with the next verse containing the line “Bumping R. Kelly’s favorite group, the black guy pees,” and just a couple lines later with the line “my transgender cat’s Siamese, identifies as Black but acts Chinese.” He then goes on to make several references to cancel culture and then jokingly disses everyone from his manager, longtime friend and collaborator Dr. Dre and even his own kids. 

Just from reading the lyrics alone, there is a lot to process here and it is no wonder why reactions were so mixed. For a lot of people, lyrics like these are childish and immature and Eminem is simply too old to be making music like this. For others, the lyrics are also childish and immature, but that is exactly what they want. These are the kind of lyrics that Eminem was known for and the reason why so many people love his music. Is it kind of corny? Definitely. Without a doubt these are some of the corniest, worst lyrics Eminem has ever written and performed. Does that matter? Not one bit. The song, as well as its accompanying video, is fun and energetic and a far cry from the disappointing work he has been putting out over the last few years.

With the full project set to be released this summer, it will be intriguing to see where Eminem goes from here. Despite the controversy it created, the song performed well and it seems fans would not mind some more of the same. If Eminem decides to take this route, then the success of the album will all come down to whether or not fans actually enjoyed the song, or the memories it brought back of Eminem’s golden years. No matter what happens though, “Houdini,” is proof that Eminem still has some gas left in him and it will be interesting to see just how much more he has left in the tank.