Eminem has never been one to shy away from controversy. He’s made a career out of confronting taboo topics, and his latest single, “Darkness,” is no exception.
It’s the first video off Eminem’s new album, Music to Be Murdered By, which was unannounced until it was dropped early Friday, according to Time. The video features Eminem in the shoes of Stephen Paddock, who opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel during the Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017, killing 59 people.
The video features the Detroit rapper in both an open blue-lit room delivering verses over an eerily calm beat and pacing around his Las Vegas hotel room filled with drugs and booze. As he raps about his inner darkest feelings, the state of the world and what he wants his actions to accomplish, Eminem throws in lines commenting on the shooter’s state of mind.
Now I’m starin’ at the room service menu off a Benzo
I can hear the music continue to crescendo
I can see the whole fuckin’ venue from my window
That’s when you know you’re schizo (Hello darkness, my old friend)
Eventually, Eminem removes the hood of his gray sweatshirt to reveal an older man — who looks roughly the age of Paddock — right before he opens fire on the crowd. In the midst of the shots of the crowd running, the shooter reloading, and his arsenal scattered across the hotel room, Eminem talks about being a licensed gun owner with no prior convictions. And as the police approach his hotel room, Eminem assures the viewer that no motive will ever be found right before the shooter takes his own life, much like Paddock.
The video ends with audio of news anchors as Eminem walks off stage, and the screen transitions to news broadcasts of shootings across dozens of TVs stacked around each other in the shape of the United States. As the camera zooms out we see Eminem watching, before walking off-screen. The viewer is left with the words “When will it end?” across the screen, before a fade to black and the phrase “When enough people care.” After that fades, a message pops up encouraging people to vote.
The album is full of call for gun control, but “Darkness” is not the only song on the album stirring controversy. On “Unaccommodating,” a collaboration with Young M.A., he includes a reference to the terrorist bombing at Manchester Arena in 2017,
I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game
Like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting
The song sparked outrage by Manchester residents, including Mayor Andy Burnham who according to Stereogum said the lyrics were, “unnecessarily hurtful and deeply disrespectful to the families and all those affected.”
The music video’s official page on Eminem’s website features links to several gun violence prevention organizations, including Everytown for Gun Safety and Sandy Hook Promise.