Thursday, December 24

Eminem to play first gig for five years in the UK after agreeing to drop homophobic lyrics

Eminem will return to the British stage for the first time in five and a half years after promising to tone down his homophobic lyrics.

Organisers of the Wireless Festival in Hyde Park have persuaded the rapper to drop his gratuitously anti-gay songs to avoid any demonstrations.

Following Eminem's pledge, they have agreed a deal with gay rights groups not to picket the event next summer.

The last time Eminem toured the country in 2001, gay rights group OutRage! protested outside his shows, saying his lyrics were homophobic.

Event organisers were said to be worried that another such protest would cause major disruption to Wireless, which attracts tens of thousands of people.

A festival insider said: “This is a huge signing for Wireless and it will be the hottest ticket this summer.

“The organisers were afraid campaigners could potentially ruin the event. So there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and Eminem only agreed to sign up when assurances had been made that there would not be any protests.

“It was very touch-and-go but he has finally agreed to appear. Any kind of demonstration against him could have been disastrous.

“He will be bringing a huge entourage of security with him but there is still the risk that protesters may picket the hotel he stays in.”

OutRage! spokesman David Allison said: “We have a condition that he does not use lyrics that encourage or incite hatred against gay people.

“He is free to express his views on gay people, as long as he stays off the violence and hatred. He has got plenty of other lyrics to choose from. In recent years he has become quite well-behaved.

“I think he realises singing songs advocating hate and violence just won’t wash any more. Society’s moved on in the last 10 years.”

Activists picketed his 2001 shows, waving banners and the rainbow flag of the gay movement while chanting “stop the bigotry”.

Although Eminem claims his lyrics are not meant to be taken seriously, gay rights groups objected to his use of the word “faggot” and called him a “gay-basher”.

For instance in Kill You on the 2000 Marshall Mathers album which sold 10 million copies, he singer: 'You faggots keep eggin' me on/til I have you at knifepoint, then you beg me to stop?/SHUT UP! Give me your hands and feet/I said SHUT UP when I'm talkin' to you/YOU HEAR ME? ANSWER ME!'

Eminem was to perform in London in 2005 but cancelled the European leg of his world tour citing “exhaustion”, although it later emerged he was addicted to sleeping pills.

He returned for a secret show at the O2 Academy in Islington in 2004 — the last time he performed in London.

So far, Pink and The Ting Tings have been officially confirmed for this year’s festival, which takes place from 2 to 4 July.

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