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Eminem drops surprise album, receives backlash for Manchester bombing mention

WATCH: Eminem references Las Vegas shooting in new 'Darkness' video

Out of nowhere, Eminem dropped a brand-new album on Friday morning called Music to Be Murdered By.

The surprise digital release came nearly 17 months after the rapper’s last effort, Kamikaze (2018).

Not only does Music to Be Murdered By serve as Eminem’s 11th studio album, but it comprises 20 original tracks — nine of which include features from the likes of Ed Sheeran, Anderson .Paak, Skylar Grey and the late Juice WRLD, among many others.

While the unexpected release pleased many Eminem fans, it also stirred up controversy online after the musician once again referenced the Manchester bombing that happened nearly three years ago.

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Eminem, 47, also penned a song written from the perspective of the Las Vegas shooter called Darkness. The provocative track recounts the 2017 attack that claimed the lives of 58 innocent concert-goers.

It was released alongside a music video that depicts Eminem as the gunman before and after his shooting rampage, which subsequently prompted a backlash against the rapper.

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Towards the end of the album’s second track, Unaccommodating, Eminem also throws in a quick but noticeable reference to the attack on Manchester, which took place at the end of a sold-out Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017.

“I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game / Like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting,” the rapper says on the track.

The response? Many social media users criticized Eminem’s decision to mention the tragic event again, voicing disappointment that he would “use controversial lyrics” for his own gain.

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Additionally, the mother of Martyn Hett — one of the victims killed at Manchester Arena — tweeted out in response to Unaccommodating, saying she felt the “distasteful” release was likely a way for Eminem to “piggyback [off of] the fame of Ariana Grande.”

On the backlash she expected to receive from fans who disagreed, Hett’s mother, Figen Murray, wrote: “I am not interested and will not engage.”

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Though Murray expected some angered fans to “pounce” on her, she was met mostly with support.

Here’s what some other upset listeners had to say about some of the tracks from Music to Be Murdered By:

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It wasn’t all negative criticism of Eminem’s new music, however, and it isn’t the first time he’s been in this situation, either. The Slim Shady rapper is notorious for sparking debate among his listeners.

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In late 2018, Eminem released an 11-minute track title Kick Off, which also referenced the Manchester attack.

“A jihadist extreme, radical suicide bomber that’s seeing / Ariana Grande sing her last song of the evening / And as the audience from the damn concert is leaving / Detonates the device strapped to his abdominal region,” Eminem raps on the track.

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In the aftermath of the bombing, Eminem helped raise more than £2.5 million (C$4.2 million) for those affected by the attack, and some fans believe it gave him the right to rap about the situation.

Other listeners backed him up for rapping about the Las Vegas shooting on Darkness, too. Though he did not explicitly acknowledge it on the track, Eminem was praised for advocating gun control in the U.S. at the end of the eye-opening video.

“When will this end? When enough people care,” reads a message at the end of the video.

“Register to vote at vote.gov. Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America.”

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The rapper also included a variety of links providing information on how his audience can help advocate for gun control.

Here’s what some longtime Eminem supporters had to say about Unaccommodating and Darkness:

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Music to Be Murdered By is now available through all major streaming platforms.

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On Twitter, Eminem revealed the record was inspired by late filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.

“Inspired by the master, Uncle Alfred!” he wrote.

Snippets of the director’s voice can be heard throughout Music to Be Murdered By. The tracks Alfred (Interlude) and (Alfred Outro) were named after him too.

Additionally, the artwork paid homage to the 1958 Jeff Alexander compilation album, Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Music to Be Murdered By, — similar to the way in which Kamikaze’s artwork was made in honour of the Beastie BoysLicense to Ill (1986).

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Music to Be Murdered By full tracklist:

1. Premonition (Intro)
2. Unaccommodating (ft. Young M.A)
3. You Gon’ Learn (ft. Royce Da 5’9″ and White Gold)
4. Alfred (Interlude)
5. Those Kinda Nights (ft. Ed Sheeran)
6. In Too Deep
7. Godzilla (ft. Juice WRLD)
8. Darkness
9. Leaving Heaven (ft. Skylar Grey)
10. Yah Yah (ft. Rocye Da 5’9″, Black Thought, Q-Tip and Denaun)
11. Stepdad (Intro)
12. Stepdad
13. Marsh
14. Never Love Again
15. Little Engine
16. Lock it Up (ft. Anderson .Paak)
17. Farewell
18. No Regrets (ft. Don Toliver)
19. I Will (ft. Kxng Crooked, Royce Da 5’9″ and Joell Ortiz)
20. Alfred (Outro)

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca