Pete Davidson and Eminem, the progression:
December 6, 2020:
March 28, 2021:
May 22, 2022:
This past Saturday, Pete Davidson did his third Eminem sketch on SNL, this time a joke about Lorne Michaels wanting to “do a music video” with him. Lorne is all sad-face-emoji because Pete hasn’t included him in these projects. Lorne has written a rap song, and he wants Pete to do it. Pete feels bad: Lorne has done so much for his career, how could he have “forgotten about Lorne?” So they “do a music video” together, a song that sounds suspiciously like “Forgot About Dre”. (The lyrics are a fun little history of SNL, and the stars Lorne Michaels has brought into this world. It’s telling that more men are shouted out than women. This is my only complaint.)
Suddenly, the video is interrupted by Eminem himself, standing on the sidelines, telling Pete to “stop” doing these “parody” videos of his songs because they’re “stupid.” It’s obvious Eminem’s spot was filmed in a separate location from Pete’s – but still, it’s funny, and a callback to the first of Pete Davidson’s Eminem videos, “Stu” (a spin on “Stan”), where Eminem shows up on the television at the end, opening a Christmas gift while wearing a Run DMC Christmas sweater. (lol)
When “Stu” aired, in December of 2020, Eminem had literally not been seen for almost an entire year. Remember 2020. Remember the chaos. Suddenly celebrities were even more ubiquitous, and yet in a different context: chatting from their homes, going live on Instagram, the whole 2020-pandemic thing. We were all in this together. (Well, except for the morons who refused to take any of it seriously. Fuck those people.) But nothing from Eminem. Total silence. Crickets. LOUD crickets. You almost wanted to call up the Detroit police and request a wellness check. Proof of life, at LEAST. The man literally had not been SEEN. There were indications that he was, indeed, alive, but he himself had not been seen. (I wrote about this progression back in December 2020.) Rumors swirled that he was holed up making an album. He had just come out with an album in January 2020 – wild timing – and the long silence indicated he must be working on something. The first time his face was seen in almost a year was in that Pete Davidson “Stan” sketch. There he was, on TV! Proof of life! Just two weeks later, he dropped the second album of 2020, part 2 of his Alfred Hitchcock inspired project. It was in retrospect that it all made sense: it was like the SNL spot acted as an advance warning bell that something, indeed, was coming. It was brilliant timing, so brilliant that I am sure it was deliberate. Who needs a PR rep, who needs teasers, when you can show up in an SNL spot – and get everyone talking about you just two weeks before you drop an album? Pete Davidson’s spot did the work for Eminem.
In March of last year, Pete Davidson did his second Eminem spot, lampooning NFTs, via a tribute to Eminem’s famous “Without Me” video. Eminem did, eventually, address these spots in an interview with Zane Lowe. He thought they were funny, and he also complimented Davidson’s “flow”. Which … is amazing. Eminem is very calculated in what he acknowledges, and how he speaks about other artists. And he is also notoriously thin-skinned. But he got what Davidson was doing, and understood the affection underlying these parodies.
Once is random, twice is a pattern.
The past year has been similarly lacking in Eminem sightings, except for the MADNESS of the Super Bowl performance, a great culmination/cultural validation for him and for everyone on that stage (and for 50Cent, UNDER the stage).
So that’s how it goes, as Eminem approaches his 50th birthday (which is insane). There are months of radio silence, with nary a blurry picture taken of him in line at Starbucks. No fan-uploaded pics of him seen out and about. How is this possible? Does he really never leave his house?
This extended period of silence has gotten the fans gossiping again. He must be working on something. All he does is work. He never goes on vacation, he barely leaves Detroit (as far as we know). What ELSE is he doing BUT working on an album? Fans read the tea leaves, analyzing random people’s Instagram posts looking for clues, etc. They say stuff like, “His last album came out on the third week of the month, so I am sure his new album will drop on the third week of THIS month. Mark my words.” The third week of the month comes and goes.It doesn’t stop the rumor mill. I’m trying to think of another famous person whose career looks like this. Taylor Swift, maybe? She’s more “out there” in the public eye, though. She is actually SEEN in the WORLD in between projects. Kanye, maybe, although he comes with all this other weird drama. Nobody else is just not seen ever, and nobody else drops an album with no advance warning, and then barely tours, before subsiding into silence and obscurity again. It’s weird.
So this past Saturday came “Forgot About Lorne” on SNL. And there was Eminem in it, alive and well.
The fans exploded. Something’s coming, something’s coming. It can’t just be a random fun thing, Eminem appearing in an SNL sketch. It has to mean something ELSE.
Two days later, via Instagram, Eminem and Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg dropped a snippet of a song Eminem wrote – with CeeLo Green (!!!) – which will be included in the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis movie.
All of the rumors had been about a new album. Nobody guessed that Eminem would be attached to the Elvis movie. From the beginning, Eminem has been compared to Elvis, mostly because of the racial implications of a white man “doing black music”. And becoming a huge star with it. Eminem has acknowledged Elvis multiple times in his songs – and has also “portrayed” him three times (maybe more?) in various music videos. Eminem always acknowledges uncomfortable truths. He doesn’t just acknowledge them. He embodies them. He just stands there and he makes everyone uncomfortable. He is aware of what Elvis means in certain sections of American culture. He knows the early history of rock ‘n roll. He knows who Rosetta Tharpe is (a clip of him talking about Chuck Berry and Rosetta Tharpe – and all of the issues surrounding the rise of Elvis – as well as his own rise – is included on Royce da 5’9’s last album, which came out last year. Hearing Eminem talk knowledgeably about Rosetta Tharpe … I almost fainted.) You can’t ignore these things, you have to deal with them.
And what better way to DEAL with it than by writing a new song to be included on the soundtrack for an Elvis biopic? It feels meant to be, pre-destined, perfect.
The song is called “The King and I” – a title reverberating with fascinating associations.
Elvis just premiered at Cannes. I haven’t seen it yet. I am dreading it, I also can’t wait.
But at the moment, what I really can’t wait for is to hear “The King and I” in its entirety. And I love CeeLo Green! Off the top of my head, these two men have not collaborated before.