“Walk on Water” was supposed to be too big to fail. The saccharine and sentimental 2017 collaboration between Eminem and Beyoncé had all the surface-level machinations of two pop stars trying to engineer a surefire hit without ever asking if there was a reason for their song to exist. Apathy to the song was widespread — with Tyler, the Creator summing up the consensus by tweeting, “this song is horrible sheesh.”
Almost a year later, when most people had forgotten “Walk on Water” and Tyler’s tweet, Eminem responded on “Fall” by hurling a homophobic slur at the Igor rapper. In an interview with The Guardian, Tyler recalls feeling unfazed by Eminem’s response and understanding its intent.
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“Did you ever hear me publicly say anything about that?” Tyler responded when asked about the lyric. “Because I knew what the intent was. He felt pressured because people got offended for me. Don’t get offended for me. We were playing Grand Theft Auto when we heard that. We rewound it and were like: ‘Oh’ And then kept playing.”
During a sit down with Sway Callow, Eminem admitted that Tyler’s “Walk on Water” tweet was the “last straw” and a “breaking point.” “I was angry when I said the shit about Tyler,” Em said. “I think the word that I called him on the album, on that song was one of the things where I felt like this might be too far because in my quest to hurt him, I realize that I was hurting a lot of other people by saying it.”
The irony is that Tyler — who was hurled bratty gay slurs himself — now raps about same-sex attraction to men on Igor, although he still won’t answer questions about sexuality outside of his lyrics. In 2015, Tyler was banned from the U.K. for three-to-five years after being targeted for his past homophobic and misogynistic lyrics through anti-terrorism legislation. “It was kind of stupid, and after a while I was like: I don’t even want to come back,” he told The Guardian. “But it was more the principle of: ‘Y’all really did this, over this? In comparison to other shit people do, that y’all let in?’ So I’m happy that I got back. I feel like I won some invisible fight.”
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