Eminem shines a light on the “Darkness” of gun violence



Eminem in the “Darkness” music video, which has received over 20 million views on YouTube.

By Dani Koang , Lincoln High School

Eminem, or Marshall Mathers, if you will, has never been one to shy away from the light of controversy. The 47-year-old rapper is known for speaking his mind. The artist has been getting things off his chest from the very beginning of his career. He does what he wants – regardless of any and all potential backlash. While many would still agree that his talent remains unmatched, in recent years, some would argue that his relevance is depleting

On Jan. 17, Mathers dropped his surprise album “Music to be Murdered By.” The LP contains the artist’s featured single “Darkness,” expressing Mathers’ political views on the advocacy of gun control in the U.S. The track has received mixed reviews from listeners all over. Some view Mathers’ political approach as a poor excuse to become ‘relevant’ again by hopping on the political bandwagon in an attempt to gain attention from the mainstream media, while others argue that Eminem’s expression is an oeuvre of artistic genius – sheer poetry. And much like those fans, I would have to agree. 

“Darkness,” in particular, is an example of Mathers’ lyrical mastermind as he speaks his own truth about a personal struggle with substance abuse, mental illness and performance anxiety; all the while slipping into the mind of the 2017 Las Vegas shooter through a series of double entendres. In the opening of the record, Mathers begins his storytelling by sharing with listeners his feelings of loneliness in a sense of darkness. To add to feelings of melancholy, the song frequently features the haunting melodic lines “Hello, Darkness, my old friend” and the occasional “I’ve come to talk with you again” from Simon & Garfunkel’s song “The Sound of Silence,” throughout the track. 

While Mathers tells his tale, he includes details of the case behind the Vegas shooter. He mentions the shooter’s legal gun license and the shortfall of any convictions, as well as the absence of any evidence supporting a case of mental illness. Mathers also raps about the use of valium and booze, as well as the lack of explanation or motive — only a paper marked with target distance calculations. These all begin to point in the direction of a deeper meaning…

“Truth is I have no idea

I am just as stumped, no signs of mental illness

Just tryin’ to show ya the reason why we’re so ######

‘Cause by the time it’s over, won’t make the slightest difference”

Here Mathers is trying to communicate to his listeners the problem behind the lack of gun control in the U.S. He explains that regardless of any motive or signs of mental illness, there are no restrictions stopping anyone from committing these heinous atrocities. Why? Because it does not make a difference either way. 

At the end of the song, a number of live news broadcasts can be heard reporting only a small portion of the mass shootings that have taken place in numerous states across the country. According to gunviolencearchive.org, there were 418 mass shootings in 2019 alone, and 14 already so far in 2020. 

Marshall Mathers may be hot-headed, cocky, controversial and aged. But irrelevant? I think not. If anything, his opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s, and he has a right to voice it. His willingness to use his platform to express his views and shine a light on the “touchier” subjects, regardless of what anyone has to say about it, further proves his authenticity as an artist. 

This story was originally published on The Statesman on January 24, 2020.