Did Justin Bieber call out Eminem for being out of touch? The rapper's seemingly blanket diss of modern rap has ruffled a few feathers, even from fellow artists. Back in August 2019, Eminem (real name Marshall Mathers) released his surprise album, Kamikaze. It topped charts worldwide and saw the hip-hop veteran make a record-breaking comeback. However, in addition to backlash for using homophobic lyrics on tracks such as "Fall," Eminem also came under fire from Bieber for his lack of understanding of hip-hop's new breed. Eminem can be heard criticizing and dissing modern rappers by name in the album's opening track, "The Ringer," including Lil Yachty, Iggy Azalea, Lil Pump, Lil Xan, and Machine Gun Kelly, who fired back at Eminem's diss track with one of his own. "I heard your mumblin' but it's jumbled in mumbo-jumbo / The era that I'm from will pummel you, that's what it's comin' to / What the fuck you're gonna do when you run into it? / I'm gonna crumble you and I'll take a number two," Eminem raps.
Bieber didn't like how Eminem dismissed modern rappers, so he expressed his disapproval on Instagram. In May 2019, Bieber, 28, shared a message on his now-removed Instagram story, which stated that while the singer liked Eminem and enjoyed his songs, Eminem did not understand modern rap or rappers. "I just like Em's flow but don't like that he's dissing new rappers," Bieber wrote in a 2019 post. "I like the new generation of rap, he just doesn't understand it."
However, it appeared Eminem, 50, did not take the Instagram message about him seriously. In an interview with HollywoodLife, a source close to the rapper admitted that he actually laughed at the jab. "Eminem really doesn't care how Bieber feels about his flow and laughed when he saw what Justin wrote about him online," the source shared at the time. "Em is not crazy about Justin's music, it ain't for him, so he doesn't care how he feels about him or who he disses. Em has also dissed Justin in the past and will probably make fun of him again. He is not too mad or scared of Justin and not worried about some war or feud with him. Eminem can take it as well as he can dish it, so it is all good," the insider revealed.
In a September interview with XXL, Eminem explained what he thought his role was in the current music climate. "My role in today's hip-hop is to always try to be the best rapper. That's it. That's how I want to feel inside." He added, "At this point, a lot of the big achievements that could come in your career have happened for me already, so I don't hyper-focus on numbers and being on charts. What I hyper-focus on is people like Kendrick Lamar, Joyner Lucas, J. Cole, and Big Sean, and watching them and how the f– they're doing their s–. Because they're also focused on being the best rappers.
In his quest to become the best rapper, Eminem also told the publication that he takes inspiration from young rappers to help himself evolve as an artist. "So, I look for the younger generation to push me. I don't have to make albums. I don't have to do anything at this point. It's about wanting to, and that's never changed for me, no matter what level the fame's gotten to. I still love to rap. It's always been the most important thing to me. I still have fun writing. I have fun watching the rappers I just mentioned and being like, OK, let me see if I can do something that inside I think I can top that."
He continued, "And every time the best rappers drop an album, it changes the landscape of the f– game. At least it does for me, and I'm like, I need to be able to rap like that. Because if I don't do that, someone's going to come behind me, probably in the next couple of years, and wash me. I couldn't sit up here, say, 'Man, I want to be the best rapper that ever was and ever will be, but I don't listen to anybody else's s– and I think that I'm untouchable.' No, because the minute you sleep, someone's coming to take your head off. That's what I've always loved about rap. It's always evolving, and to succeed you need to be constantly aware of that and keep up with it.