Sir Elton John: “For me, Eminem was never homophobic”

Sir Elton John has defended Eminem against early allegations of homophobia. During an interview with Beats 1 Radio’s Zane Lowe (which resurfaced on YouTube this week), the legendary performer defends the “misunderstood and misrepresented” rapper.

Sir Elton and Eminem have had an unlikely, but longstanding comradeship since at least 2001, when they performed Eminem’s single ‘Stan’ at the Grammy Awards.

“For me, Eminem was never homophobic,” he said, before talking about how he was “floored” by The Marshall Mathers LP. 

“He’s just writing about the way things are, not how he thinks, but the way things are. I’ll fight for anyone that is misunderstood and misrepresented by the idiots out there.”

Eminem is no stranger to homophobia accusations, after frequently using the word “faggot” and making gay jokes in his early albums. Since then he’s spoken at length about how he was never homophobic, even parodying the issue in the Judd Apatow film The Interview, in which he plays a fictional version of himself who comes out as gay.

The pair have maintained a close friendship over the years. Eminem has stated that Sir Elton actually supported him while overcoming his drug addiction, while Sir Elton has spoken about a somewhat NSFW present he received from the rapper for his civil partnership with husband David Furnish. “In a case, on velvet cushions, were two diamond cock rings. So there’s a homophobe for you.”

For the record, Eminem has also provided a totally separate explanation for the slurs. Speaking to Rolling Stone after 2013’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (on which “faggot” appears several times), he explained that growing up in Detroit, “It was more like calling someone a bitch or a punk or asshole. So that word was just thrown around so freely back then.”

He went on to say, “The real me sitting here right now talking to you has no issues with gay, straight, transgender, at all. I’m glad we live in a time where it’s really starting to feel like people can live their lives and express themselves.”

This is far from the first time Sir Elton – who is touring Australia this year – has defended hip-hop. In 2011 he said, “People who mock rap, and say, ‘I don’t like it,’ they should go check out Kanye in the studio rapping. Or Eminem when he’s in the studio. It’s a phenomenon.”

The 70-year-old superstar’s love of hip-hop is evidenced in the music itself; he’s been sampled by artists including Tupac, Kanye West, Action Bronson, Raekwon and Aaliyah, as well as collaborating with Eminem, Kanye and A Tribe Called Quest. On top of this, he’s expressed his desire to work with Snoop Dogg, Pharrell and Timbaland among others, and was even spotted shopping for Tech N9ne records in Canada just a few weeks ago.

Check out the original interview here.