Eminem issues apology for racist lyrics. Slim says he's sorry, cites the power of hip-hop to uplift, and still gets a dig in at The Source, which unearthed the song

By Gary Susman
Updated December 05, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s usually impossible to get Eminem to apologize for his often inflammatory lyrics, but now he’s apologized for the same track twice in two weeks. When The Source magazine unearthed a cut of a pre-fame Marshall Mathers from at least a decade ago, in which he spouted rhymes dissing a black ex-girlfriend, the rapper downplayed the tape as the rant of a callow teen who was bitter over a failed romance. On Thursday, however, he issued a fuller apology, a page-long statement in which he explicitly apologized for the track’s racial slurs, though not without getting in a few digs at the magazine that dug up the recording.

Eminem dismissed the magazine’s revelation of the old tune as another salvo in its ongoing feud against the rapper, a feud he has said is fueled in part by sour grapes on the part of rapper and Source cofounder Ray ”Benzino” Scott. In his statement, as quoted by MTV News, Eminem called the unveiling of the tape at a press conference last month ”really nothing more than blatant self-promotion for a failing magazine and one man’s lifeless music career. They’re scared of what can happen if the hip-hop community shows it can live without them.”

He also emphasized that the song ”in no way represents who I was then or who I am today. In becoming an adult, I’ve seen what hip-hop and rap music can do to touch millions of people. The music can be truly powerful, and it has helped improve race relations in a very real way. I want to use this negative attack on me as a positive opportunity to show that.”

The ”Lose Yourself” rapper concluded, ”So while I think common sense tells you not to judge a man by what he may have said when he was a boy, I will say it straight up: I am sorry I said those things when I was 16. And I don’t want to let anybody turn this into an opportunity to promote their own bulls— agenda.”