To be more specific, the Princess of Pop took to Instagram to highlight the performance of one of the stars of this year’s Halftime Show: Eminem.
“He should have had way more time,” Britney gushed about the “Rap God” star, who performed his 2002 smash hit “Lose Yourself” Sunday (Feb. 13) on a star-studded stage shared with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.
Britney didn’t stop there, though. The “Toxic” singer generously reflected on what Eminem meant to her as a teen: “He was everything to me when I was younger and it was so weird in the first two seconds I saw him on stage last night … I felt like I was 17 again.”
It doesn’t appear Eminem has responded to Britney’s declaration of long-term appreciation, at least as of publishing time. However, it’s worth pointing out that the rapper has said some horrible things about the pop star in the past — some truly abhorrent.
If Eminem is known for one thing other than his rapid-fire flow and barbed pen, it’s got to be his habit of feuding with peers in the music industry.
He attracted the most attention when he aimed his vitriol at female stars, particularly back in the 2000s. The rapper famously beefed with the likes of Mariah Carey (who responded with her song “Obsessed”) and Christina Aguilera.
In 2000, Aguilera took the brunt of Eminem’s foul-mouthed cruelty on “The Real Slim Shady,” while Britney got a more neutral passing mention. (MTV reminded readers that the latter also got called out in the video when Eminem dressed up as her in her iconic schoolgirl outfit.)
Watch Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” Music Video:
That particular moment didn’t do Britney too dirty. However, the talented rapper made it a habit to refer back to the “…Baby One More Time” star over the years, to increasingly problematic degrees, especially in his lyrics.
The same year “The Real Slim Shady” came out, he called Britney “garbage” on his song “Marshall Mathers,” rapping:
An anti-Backstreet and Ricky Martin
Whose instinct’s to kill *NSYNC, don’t get me started
These f—in’ brats can’t sing and Britney’s garbage
What’s this bitch, re—ded? Give me back my sixteen dollars!
His constant needling of the pop star in his early career left one fan on Twitter wondering if Eminem was obsessed with Britney and just had a terrible way of showing it.
It seems like that might’ve been the case. On “Same Song & Dance” in 2009, he rapped about being infatuated with a pop star who dressed up as a schoolgirl:
My second victim was even bigger than the first
Pop star, icon, the whole works
She played a little schoolgirl when she first
Burst upon the scene and seen that the world was hers
She twirls and turns and flirts in skirts so bad it hurts
It irked me, it made me mad at first
I lashed out in my songs, but what was really going on
Was that I had developed a crush
I just didn’t know how to tell it to her
Content warning below // drug use, mental health
The upsetting lyrics detailed how Eminem had a crush on the hit-maker (he referred to her directly as “Britney”) and how he fantasized about drugging her:
I’ll share my Valium with you ’cause I’m feeling you Britney
I’ll trade you a blue one for a pink one
Ever since a schoolgirl juvenile delinquent
I’ve been feeling you, ooh-ooh, girl, you sexy little gal, you
Hold that pill any longer, it’ll get sentimental value
C’mon toots, give me the Valium alley-oop
I’ll slam dunk it in your mouth ’til you puke
And just as soon as you pass out in your alphabet soup
I’m ’bout to make a new outfit out of you
New outfit? S–t, I’ll make a suit out of you, shoot
Eminem even referenced Britney’s mental health on his 2013 track “Evil Twin,” rapping:
That I should call the Looney Police to come get me
‘Cause I’m so sick of bein’ the truth
I wish someone’d finally admit me
To a mental hospital with Britney
In an interview, he also called Britney out for supposedly “dressing trashy” and implied she was a bad role model for young girls — including his daughter Hailie Jade, who was a fan of Britney — according to Showbiz Cheatsheet. “These little girls start looking up to her because she’s like this cute little teeny bopper and then all of sudden… what happened?” he complained.
Somehow, the rapper seemingly overlooked the irony of making that statement while including graphic, misogynistic references to Britney and sexualizing her in his music. (Even when Eminem wasn’t attacking pop stars, he frequently attacked women in general — the Washington Post and Billboard both called him on his use of misogynistic lyrics, especially in his earliest releases.)
In 2017, during an interview with Vulture Eminem offered an explanation for why he was so quick to lambast his pop peers back then.
“The reason that I went at pop stars back then is because people were calling me a pop rapper,” he explained. “What’s bugged out to me is that — I don’t know if everybody understands this — if everybody could do what I did, they’d just do it, wouldn’t they? I’m not this manufactured pop thing and I never was. A way people used to dismiss me was to call me pop. I got mad about that, and I lashed out.”
It seems he was, for the most part, simply aiming his anger and frustration at the wrong people.
For her part, Britney in all her graciousness and kill-’em-with-kindness poise does not seem to have replied in kind to any of Eminem’s yearslong attacks on her. In fact, Alot notes that the Glory star once referred to Eminem as a “genius” on her reality show Chaotic.
Judging by her recent Instagram post, Britney still considers herself an Eminem fan. She’s just got a much healthier, and way less sexist, way of sharing her obsession with her music industry peer.