To quote Eminem: 'Think I give a damn about a Grammy?'
Well, apparently, yes. Or at least enough to show up and perform.
After weeks of speculation, rumors and internal hand-wringing, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences announced Friday that the controversial, acid-tongued rapper and Grammy nominee will indeed perform at this month's 43rd Annual Awards.
Much to the chagrin of gay- and civil-rights groups, who have protested his gleefully violent and homophobic lyrics, Eminem will hit the stage February 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, alongside performers such as 'N Sync, Madonna, U2 and Destiny's Child.
Already, the 28-year-old Slim Shady alter ego is nominated for four Grammys, including Album of the Year and Best Rap Album for The Marshall Mathers LP.
But still unknown is exactly what Eminem will perform--and just as importantly--whom he might perform with. Rumors have been flying that the rapper (aka Marshall Mathers III) may sing his psycho-fan ballad 'Stan' in a duet with Elton John (aka Reginald Kenneth Dwight). If true, the move would put a bizarre twist on the entire controversy: John has been a longstanding crusader against homophobia and is a friend to many of the groups protesting Eminem's involvement.
So far, nothing has been confirmed from either the Recording Academy, or John's or Eminem's camps. 'At this point, Eminem is performing. But what's he's performing, and with whom, we're going to figure that out as we get closer,' says a Grammy spokeswoman.
But the fact that Em is showing up at all was enough to immediately spark criticism Friday from groups like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
'GLAAD is deeply offended that NARAS is yielding its Grammy Award stage to Eminem,' says Scott Seomin, spokesman for the group. 'For the Recording Academy to allow this artist to perform is to exploit the homophobia in his lyrics in the name of television ratings.'
Seomin says GLAAD was under the impression that the Academy will restrict Eminem to singing 'Stan,' a song that does not include any outwardly homophobic remarks--but does wax poetic about a deranged fan murdering his pregnant wife.
Either way, Seomin says, GLAAD will move ahead on its protest plans, which include a 'Rally Against Hate' outside the Staples Center on the night of the Grammys and a town hall meeting with the Recording Academy addressing 'Intolerance in Music' one day before the ceremony.
Friday's announcement does end, at least temporarily, speculation over whether the Academy would even allow a performance from one of this year's most critically acclaimed, and publicly debated, artists. Eminem, along with hip-hop mentor Dr. Dre, is one of the year's top Grammy nominees, but GLAAD and other groups have been lobbying the Academy not to invite him to perform.
For his part, Eminem hasn't publicly addressed the rumors that he may join up with Sir Elton onstage, but he did give him props during a recent television interview to promote his upcoming pay-per-view special.
'As far as Elton John liking my sh**
, I think it's beautiful,' Em said. 'I think he gets the joke, and I respect him as an artist.'
John has previously praised Eminem's album, calling it 'intelligent, hard-core stuff.'
Meanwhile, in a preemptive strike, Seomin says GLAAD has contacted John's manager and publicist, saying the organization would be 'appalled' if the pop legend ultimately decided to perform with the rapper. Just last year, GLAAD handed the singer its prestigious Vito Russo Award, recognizing John's work in combating homophobia.
'We've made it quite clear to his manager and publicist that if he is indeed considering it, to please reconsider,' Seomin says. 'Sir Elton John has played an enormous role in educating the world about gay issues, through his music and incredible charitable work. If he performs, his actions would violate the spirit of the [Russo] award.'
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