Rapper Eminem is known for his controversial and – at times all out horrific – lyrics. But in his latest song on DJ Khaled’s new album God Did, currently number 1 in the US album charts, the peroxide artist speaks of Jesus as his Saviour and Shepard. So, is he a Christian now? Write Lauren Windle certainly hopes so.
Using God, Jesus and prayer as a theme in hip hop music is not new. Our God features heavily in the genre and has done for years. Often he’s mentioned in a flippant or contradictory way, but not always.
I have to confess - when I saw DJ Khaled’s new album God Did featured a song with Eminem called Use This Gospel – I braced myself for blasphemy. I’m sure anyone familiar with the peroxide rapper’s early work would do the same. He previously dedicated a whole song to a fantasy of murdering his ex-wife and his lyrics have featured “jokes” about raping and being raped, having people killed and his mum taking more drugs than he does.
I was on a train as I settled in to review the track, so I put in my earphones. This is partly because it’s polite and partly because I couldn’t have other people hearing the inevitable torrent of expletives. The song started with a chorus from Jesus Kanye West, who has been vocal about his faith in recent years. I was surprised to discover that, to my amateur theologian’s ear, it didn’t sound heretical at all. In fact… it sounded like the gospel.
“Today’s the day that I put all of my trust and faith in You, Father.”
Then Eminem kicked in and the fast-paced verse covered his personal struggles with addiction and his submission to God: “Today’s the day that I put all of my trust and faith in You, Father.” He cried out for Jesus like a modern-day Psalmist: “Like So my Saviour, I call on to rescue me from these depths of despair.”
He spoke of prayer and God’s word as a weapon, just as Paul does in Ephesians 6:10-18. Eminem raps: “He is my shepherd. I’m armed with Jesus, my weapon is prayer. Bible at my side like a rifle with a God-given gift.”
And he rounded it all off with a message of gratitude: “Every single day I thank God for. That’s why I pay so much homage. Praises to Jesus, I’ll always.” Granted, it’s not the best written grammar but it works perfectly if you listen to the song.
“He is my shepherd. I’m armed with Jesus, my weapon is prayer. Bible at my side like a rifle with a God-given gift.”
After a bit of digging, it seems that Eminem has spoken out about a Christian faith in the past. In his pre-fame album Infinite, which is little known as it was released before he hit the big time with Slim Shady, he spoke of finding God. He said: “But in the midst of this insanity, I’ve found my Christianity through God and there’s a wish he granted me.” Of course, it was after this statement that he found meteoric fame and released the aforementioned alarming songs.
It’s pretty standard procedure for rappers to claim to be Christian while putting out lyrics that are offensive to a lot of believers. I assume that’s the camp Eminem’s been in previously, but this feels different. This isn’t just lip-service to a fashionable faith. He really is preaching the gospel. He’s speaking like someone who truly understand what those words mean and has read the Bible. He sounds like he could have an actual personal relationship with Jesus… and I’m excited about it.