The rap superstar surprised fans by releasing the project on Friday, January 17, 2020 without prior notice, and he quickly became a trending topic on social media as he was slammed for appearing to make light of the deadly Manchester bomb attack at Ariana Grande's 2017 concert on "Unaccommodating", and writing from the perspective of the shooter in the Las Vegas festival massacre in the same year on "Darkness".
He also makes controversial mentions of late Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein, the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., and murdered child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsay.
Now, almost a week after the album's release, Eminem has addressed his detractors in a rare statement, explaining there's a deeper message behind the lyrics, which are not for "the squeamish."
"Gentle listener: In today's wonderful world murder has become so commonplace that we are a society obsessed and fascinated by it," Eminem shares in an Instagram note, featuring what appears to be two lines of blood dripping down the top of the page.
"I thought why not make a sport of it, and murder over beats? So before you jump the gun, please allow me to explain," he continues.
"This album was not made for the squeamish. If you are easily offended or unnerved at the screams of bloody murder, this may not be the collection for you. Certain selections have been designed to shock the conscience, which may cause positive action. Unfortunately, darkness has truly fallen upon us."
"So you see, murder in this instance isn't always literal, nor pleasant," Eminem concludes. "These bars are only meant for the sharpest of knives in the drawers."
"For the victims of this album, may you rest peacefully. For the rest of you, please listen more closely next time. Goodnight! With deepest sympathy, Eminem."
In the caption accompanying the open letter, Eminem shares a line from his 2001 Jay-Z collaboration "Renegade", indicating his willingness to play up his reputation as a shock artist if it'll make people think.
It reads, " 'Cause, see, they call me a menace and if the shoe fits, I'll wear it. But if it don't, then y'all will swallow the truth, grin and bear it' #Renegade #MusicToBeMurderedBy."
The album, his 11th studio release, is the follow-up to 2018's "Kamikaze", and is expected to debut atop the U.S. Billboard 200 chart this weekend, January 26, 2020.