Manchester Mayor Calls Eminem’s Lyrics About Ariana Grande Concert Bombing “Unnecessarily Hurtful”

Eminem surprise-released his new album Music To Be Murdered By last night. Today, right on cue, there is a new Eminem controversy.

Multiple times on the new LP — which borrows its name from Alfred Hitchcock’s lone studio album — Eminem makes reference to mass killings at concerts. I guess you could call it one of the album’s motifs? On “Darkness,” which advocates for stricter gun control, he raps from the perspective of the shooter who killed dozens of people at the Las Vegas country music festival Route 91 Harvest. And on the Young M.A collab “Unaccommodating,” 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 sound of an explosion immediately follows.

The people of Manchester are not pleased. In a statement to the BBC, Mayor Andy Burnham writes, “This is unnecessarily hurtful and deeply disrespectful to the families and all those affected.” Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett died in the attack, also condemned Eminem’s lyrics on Twitter. “Feels like he is piggybacking on the fame of Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber and says distasteful things about other celebrities,” Murray wrote. “Not clever. Totally pointless. And before all Eminem fans pounce on me, I am not interested and will not engage.” Hett’s former partner Russell Hayward agreed: “It’s disappointing but not surprising that #Eminem would use controversial lyrics about the Manchester bomb, dragging the victims’ families & Ariana back into a very dark time. Not sure how popular he is these days but I hope any success he gets from the back of this is worth it.”

This is not the first time Eminem has provocatively referenced the Manchester bombing in a lyric. In his 2018 freestyle “Kick Off,” he rapped, “Suicide bomber that’s seeing Ariana Grande sing her last song of the evening/ And as the audience from the damn concert is leaving/ Detonates the device strapped to his abdominal region.”

At the time of the attack, Eminem promoted fundraising efforts for the victims and their families through the British Red Cross.