Eminem surprised fans overnight with the release of his eleventh studio album, Music To Be Murdered By, a 20-song collection of tracks featuring Black Thought, Juice WRLD, Young M.A., and more. The first single is the macabre “Darkness,” which Eminem accompanied with a fittingly morbid video echoing the violent content of the song.
“Darkness” is a grisly re-telling of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting told from the killer’s perspective and peppered with ironic wordplay suggesting that Em is talking about himself preparing for a performance. The video, though, removes some of the song’s ambiguity and goes straight for the visual metaphor, again using first-person perspective to put the viewer into the shooter’s final moments of preparation and eventual death by suicide.
Eminem, who is known for his violent, over-the-top subject matter on songs like “Kim,” in which he fantasizes killing the mother of his child, but on “Darkness,” he tries to give his Tarantino-esque fascination with gruesome content a broader, more political message. At the end of the song and video, news clips announcing other mass shootings play over the beat’s melancholy outro, while in the video, a block of television screens forms a loose outline of the continental United States, with all the screens forming a collage of carnage before reverting to a connected image of Old Glory. The question, “When will it end?” is superimposed over the screens, then immediately answered with “When enough people care.”
It’s a fine sentiment, but doesn’t quite jive with some of Eminem’s pot-stirring lyrics elsewhere on the album, suggesting Em’s tone-juggling problems may have continued for yet another project. Check out his moody single with Juice WRLD, “Godzilla,” below.
Music To Be Murdered By is out now on Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records. Get it here.