The 48-year-old rapper surprised fans on Friday, December 18, with the release of a new companion record to January’s Music to Be Murdered By. The album features collaborations with DJ Premier, Ty Dolla $ign and Sly Pyper and 16 brand-new tracks, one of which refers to the 32-year-old Fenty Beauty founder.
“But, me, long as I re-promise to be honest / And wholeheartedly, apologies, Rihanna,” Eminem raps on new song “Zeus,” taking responsibility for previously leaked lyrics. “For that song that leaked, I’m sorry, Ri / It wasn’t meant to cause you grief. Regardless, it was wrong of me.”
The 15-time Grammy winner previously teamed up with Rihanna on “Love the Way You Lie” in 2010, “Numb” in 2012 and “The Monster” in 2013. They also toured together in the summer of 2014. Eminem’s apology comes one year after the Detroit native raised eyebrows with a snippet from an unreleased song in November 2019. At the time, Eminem appeared to show support for Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.
“Of course I side with Chris Brown,” the old lyrics read. “I’d beat a bitch down too.”
The song was reportedly recorded during the sessions for Eminem’s 2009 album, Relapse. After the clip made the rounds on social media, fans were quick to criticize the “Lose Yourself” rapper for seemingly “glorifying abuse.” Others pointed out at the time that the problematic lyrics were part of a pattern throughout Eminem’s career. In his 2000 song “Kim,” he raps about killing ex-wife Kim Scott Mathers and putting her in the trunk of his car.
Brown, 30, served nearly five years of probation after physically assaulting the “Love On the Brain” singer in his car the night before the Grammy Awards in February 2009. The former couple briefly rekindled their romance in 2012 before calling it quits once more in 2013.
“We love each other and we probably always will. And that’s not anything that we’re gonna try to change,” the “Work” singer said in a 2012 interview. “It’s not something you can shut off if you’ve ever been in love.”
Eminem isn’t the only artist to have apologized to Rihanna for supporting Brown in the wake of the scandal. In December 2019, Drake opened up about his choice to continue working with the “Look at Me Now” singer despite his own romantic history with Rihanna. The Canadian, 34, dated on and off from 2009 to 2016.
“I have the utmost love and respect for [Rihanna],” Drake said during an interview with “Rap Radar” at the time. “I think of her as family more than anything and I felt — I actually had kind of a moment of hesitation before because I didn’t want her to ever feel disrespected by me linking up with him, but I also know how many nights she knows that me and [Chris] have both been consumed by this issue, and I think she is a good person with a good heart who would rather see us put the issue to bed than continue like childish s–t that could end up in a serious situation.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential support.