Having already offended millions of people across the world, especially women and homosexuals, the superstar rapper Eminem is now back in the hotseat over a 10-year-old track in which he refers to black women as "dumb chicks" and says he will in future date only white girls.
A widely read hip-hop magazine called The Source is using the track as part of a campaign to denounce Eminem, a white performer in a predominantly black world, as a closet racist. The rapper Benzino, a co-founder of the magazine, has previously denounced Eminem as "a rap David Duke, a rap Hitler, a culture-stealer" and now seems intent on bringing him down.
The Source has unearthed two old tracks, only one of which Eminem has acknowledged as his, in which he makes derogatory comments with a racial component.
On the unacknowledged track, a singer calling himself Eminem refers to "that nigger shit". On the acknowledged track, he raps: "Blacks and whites they sometimes mix/But black girls only want your money 'cause they're dumb chicks/Don't date a black girl/If you do it once you won't do it twice/Black girls are dumb, and white girls are good chicks."
The racism charge clearly has the potential to do real damage to Eminem, in a way that even venom-spitting at "fags" and "bitches" cannot. He put out a statement explaining: "The tape ... was something I made out of anger, stupidity and frustration when I was a teenager. I'd just broken up with my girlfriend, who was African American, and I reacted like the angry, stupid kid I was. I hope people will take it for the foolishness that it was, not for what somebody is trying to make it into today."
Initial reaction to the controversy suggests Eminem has plenty of sympathisers. The tone of many of his songs suggest he is an equal-opportunity insult-hurler, not someone fixated on race. Many people are interpreting the stand-off with Benzino as a class rap "battle", in which any form of attack is considered justifiable.
Eminem has called Benzino the "softest, fakest wanna-be gangster in New York".