In a recent episode of The Joe Budden podcast, Black activist Dr. Umar Johnson stirred controversy by challenging Eminem’s status as one of the greatest rappers of all time solely based on his race. Dr. Umar’s remarks ignited a social media backlash as hip-hop enthusiasts came to Eminem’s defense.
Dr. Umar Johnson, known for his staunch Pan-Africanist views, asserted that Eminem, being a white male, cannot attain the pinnacle of achievement in African-derived cultural expressions. He expressed concerns about non-Africans participating in the hip-hop community, stating, “Eminem has all the privileges of a white male and all the privileges of being in the hip-hop community, so we got to be careful about letting non-Africans into our community.”
Emphasizing his African fundamentalism, Dr. Umar declared, “No non-African can ever be the best of anything African. It is an insult to the ancestors, it is an insult to the race, and it is an insult to every Black person.” These remarks prompted a strong reaction from fans who took to social media to express their discontent with Dr. Umar’s perspective.
Netizens on various platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), criticized Dr. Umar for what they perceived as an attempt to racially divide the hip-hop community. Some users pointed out the irony, comparing the situation to hypothetical scenarios like denying a black basketball player the title of the greatest because the sport was invented by a white Canadian or questioning the GOAT status of non-white athletes like Tiger Woods and Serena Williams.
Despite the criticism, Eminem’s supporters defended the rapper’s contributions to hip-hop, highlighting his humility, love for the culture, and philanthropic efforts. One fan stated, “Too much Eminem slander on the timeline. The guy never boasted, always humble, always shows love for the culture, and always gives back, man. [He] will go down as one of the goats ever. Go argue with your cat.”
Another user pointed out Eminem’s influence on other artists, saying, “People will give Em so much hate but forget that he most likely inspired some of their favorite artists. I mean, he’s in Kendrick’s top 5, Drake’s, Lil Wayne’s, J Cole’s, and many others. People really forget he actually revolutionized hip-hop.”