Song Review: Eminem – Tone Deaf

Categories:  Music    The Arts
Tuesday, March 16th, 2021 at 2:32 PM
Song Review: Eminem – Tone Deaf by Julia Carden

For those of us that have been listening to Eminem since his music career began, controversial lyrics and offensive phrases are nothing new. The problematic rapper has been under fire numerous times over the last two decades because of his blunt language. He is now caught up in another “cancellation” attempt, after a young TikTok user posted a video criticizing the 2010 hit, “Love the Way You Lie,” back in February.

Featuring Rhianna, the hip-hop ballad tells a story of a toxic and abusive relationship. Many fans and critics believe the song was influenced by both artists' personal experiences with abusive relationships: Rhianna with former boyfriend Chris Brown, and Eminem with ex-wife Kim Anne Scott. However, some TikTok users feel the song inappropriately glorifies domestic abuse.

Before it was removed from the platform, the TikTok video went viral, sparking conflict between young social media users and longtime Eminem fans. After staying quiet throughout most of the drama, Eminem released a new lyric video for his song “Tone Deaf” in response to the criticism. The track was originally released on his 2020 album, “Music to Be Murdered By - Side B.”

The rapper also took to Twitter shortly after the video dropped on March 5. He posted a snippet of the video with the lyrics, “I won’t stop even when my hair turns grey (I’m tone deaf) / Cause they won’t stop until they cancel me.”

The cartoon-style music video features detailed artwork with a “Grand Theft Auto” vibe. The video takes viewers along on a police chase after the rapper, who is seen committing crimes and indulging in questionable activities between car chase scenes. The 5-minute-long piece encapsulates his untouchable fame as the artist is later surrounded by numerous album plaques and awards, tokens of his success.

“Tone Deaf” clarifies quite literally that the artist has no concern whatsoever for potential damage to his reputation, or “cancel culture.” He jokingly blames his alter ego, “Slim Shady,” for being offensive and getting him in trouble, as he sings, “I told y’all it ain’t me / It’s my alter ego’s fault.”

Eminem fans took to social media to defend the rapper and reminisce on all the controversies the artist has been involved in throughout his career. The hashtag #CancelEminem was quickly overwhelmed with support rather than testimony from those who took offense to the rapper’s lyrics.

Personally, I’m surprised this is the song that people chose to be upset with. I can think of plenty Eminem lyrics that are much worse, but I understand how the graphic story could be triggering to some.

Rhianna’s own experience with physical abuse been very public, after Chris Brown pled guilty to the assault charges filed against him. This suggests she probably would not purposely glorify toxic relationships, being an abuse survivor herself.

The singer has explained that the Grammy-nominated song was meant to give a voice to domestic abuse victims. “It just was authentic. It was real. It was believable for us to do a record like that, but it was also something that needed to be done,” she said in an interview with MTV.

It’s hard to believe the new music video and cancellation attempt had no correlation considering the timing. While I respect Eminem and his success, and the song does feature some hot rhymes, I don’t believe the “Tone Deaf” video was necessary. The “Love the Way You Lie” lyrics could have been easily explained and cleared up — no need for a video for an already released song referencing Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. I think we all know that Eminem isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Julia Carden is the Social Media Director for The Spectator. She can be reached at

Tags: music review

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