Eminem’s “White America” Lyrics Meaning

Eminem was not the first White rapper to be accepted as a credible emcee even within the African-American community, where hip-hop originated and was by and large developed. Rather that distinction would probably go to 3rd Bass, a crew from Queens who were part and parcel of the New York rap scene during the early-1990s. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Eminem's White America at Lyrics.org.

But Eminem was the first White rapper who was not only accepted by Blacks but proved to be mega-successful in the mainstream (i.e. White) music industry also. As such the topic of race, as far as his success and influence are concerned, was ever present, as in one which he could not escape from. 

And he addressed it regularly in songs early in his career, often just by dropping a line or two pertaining to the subject. But on this particular track, as indicated by its title (“White America”), he deals with the subject head-on. However, ultimately, this song is more political in nature than it is racial. Or rather let’s say that underneath all that is being put forth, even when the lyrics sound straight-up political, lies Eminem’s Whiteness and the fact that he has proven so influential amongst his people, the Caucasians who rule America, especially.

Chapter 1 of “White America”

And it is upon the above mentioned note that Eminem commences this song. At first he never mentions skin color forthrightly. But the implication is that the “f***ing army marching in back of” Shady, i.e. his diehard followers who “share the same views and the same exact beliefs” as the rapper, are indeed White. 

However, this point of the first verse is not for Eminem to brag about the size or dedication of his fandom. Rather it serves two primary purposes. One is to show that the vocalist himself is amazed by how influential he has become. And secondly it is implied that if so many people are feeling him, despite Eminem being a controversial figure, then there must be some validity to what he’s saying. 

Indeed concerning his image, he calls out Congress, i.e. the US government itself, in regards to how they apparently had issues with the words that came out of his mouth. But in true Slim Shady fashion he revels in such contention and points to his life’s journey as proof that he is used to dealing with opposition.


That then brings us to the chorus. What Eminem is telling “White America”, i.e. the Caucasian population of the United States, is basically that he’s one of them. And this does not mean that he is trying to conform or is seeking their acceptance. Rather what he is putting forth is that the same kind of ideological disassociation from the mainstream which produced Slim Shady is likewise present in their own children. Indeed as pointed out earlier, prototypical American kids love Slim Shady.

Lyrics of "White America"

Chapter 2 of “White America”

In the second verse, he deals more directly with the topic of race. This is where the rapper admits that ‘if he were Black, he wouldn’t have sold half’ of the records that he has. And yes, if you don’t know even some 20 years after this song was released Em still holds the distinction of being ‘the best-selling rapper of all time’. 

He has sold a ridiculous amount of content, and one has to logically conclude, despite his at times unmatched lyrical skills, that his skin color has in fact contributed to his success. Or stated differently, he is speaking to the reality of White privilege which exists in America and is honestly admitting that he’s been a beneficiary of it. 

He then proceeds to give Dr. Dre, the musician who put him on, credit for his own acceptance as a viable rapper in the overall Black community. However, Shady also acknowledges that he returned the favor by likewise introducing a bunch of “White fan(s)” to the D-R-E.

Chapter 3 of “White America”

And the third verse also recognizes how Dre has been instrumental to his career. But more to the intended point is that of Eminem having introduced masses of middle-class White kids to the world of hardcore rap. So in his mind, that would explain why his career is marked by “constant controversy”. 

Or let’s put it like this, once again from Eminem’s perspective when Black rappers talk about ‘smacking a b*t*h’ or ‘say the word f*g*ot’, the powers-that-be could care less. But now that a popular White rapper, indeed one whom their own children absolutely adore, is operating along a similar disposition, all hell is breaking loose. 

So it can be concluded that the thesis sentiment of this entire outing is that “White America”, as Eminem puts it, is a “democracy of hypocrisy”.

In Conclusion

And to drive the point home, he concludes the track by directly dissing Lynne Cheney and Tipper Gore. At the time Mrs. Cheney was the Second Lady of the United States (i.e. wife of the former Vice President Dick Cheney). And prior to her, that position was held by Tipper Gore (wife of former Vice President Al Gore). 

Lynne Cheney is on record as calling out Eminem, straight in of congress, labeling the rapper “a violent misogynist” in addition to putting forth an argument to prove her point. Meanwhile the way Tipper Gore pissed him off is by co-founding the movement which initiated those now-ubiquitous “Parental Advisory” warning tags we see on the covers of certain albums, such as those which fall into the gangsta rap category. 

And all lyrics considered, he apparently perceives such as some kind of assault against the freedom of speech. He then proceeds to mock the USA itself, referring to his homeland as the “Divided States of Embarrassment”. And finally, he brings the entire tirade to an end by clarifying that he’s “just playing” and then expressing love for America.

Core Message of “White America”

So putting all of this together, the main message the vocalist is putting forth is quite clear. He is a product of the mayhem in his lyrics, not the cause of them. This truth is manifest in the countless fans who totally relate to him. Thus he doesn’t particularly take kindly to people criticizing the content of his music, or rather let’s say over-exaggerating his influence. 

But even if they don’t like what he’s saying, the First Amendment gives him the right to spit whatever he wants. And for members of the same government who “has sworn to uphold this right”, indeed even the society which lives by it, to criticize him, he interprets as an act of hypocrisy.

Facts about “White America”

This is the opening song from Slim Shady’s fourth full-length, “The Eminem Show” (2002). Of course said project was a big hit, topping music charts in more countries than can be mentioned here. And whereas “White America” was not amongst the singles released from said project, the song still managed to be certified gold by RIAA in 2018.

The track which precedes “White America” on the album, “Curtains Up”, is actually a skit which segues into this song.

Eminem’s Shady Records, Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and the distributor of both, Interscope Records made “White America”, along with the rest of “The Eminem Show”, public on the date of 26 May 2002.

According to a 2008 article published by Mother Jones, American military prisons have used certain songs, including “White America”, to basically torture inmates. And just to note another Eminem track made the list, that being his 2000 song “Kim“.

Eminem wrote and produced this track. However in the former regard he was assisted by the following:

  • Jeff Bass
  • DJ Head
  • Luis Resto
  • Steve King

This track is the second track on the track listing of “The Eminem Show” album. In 2003, this album was placed at the 317th position on “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list compiled by Rolling Stone. This album, which sold almost 30 million copies around the globe, was supported by the following hit singles:

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