It’s been a rough few years to be an Eminem stan. Ever since he dropped an awfully hot coffee pot, he’s become something of a laughingstock in music circles. Gone were the days of impressive rhyme schemes and clever wordplay, replaced by embarrassing dad jokes. His subsequent album Revival solidified this reputation, becoming his worst-selling, most critically-derided album. Hell, even the Beyhive couldn’t save his Beyonce-assisted single from flopping.
Since then, “who listens to Eminem anymore” and “he fell off” are often heard when fans attempt to spread the Marshall Mathers gospel. But as every cool kidTM and music critic forgets about Slim, how can it be possible he was YouTube’s most watched rapper in 2022 and 2023? Or Chartmetric’s 9th highest-ranking artist across all musical genres?
Using Chartmetric’s data, let’s finally answer the question: who, in 2024, is still listening to Eminem?
Eminem is an obvious fish-out-of-water on the top ten. In 1999, his edgy South Park-esque humor and controversial lyrics shocked white audiences. Congress derided his violent content and protestors held picket signs for his wicked rhymes. It didn’t help the pearl-clutchers that his lyrics were well-written and produced by one of hip-hop’s greatest producers, Dr. Dre. Listeners also loved his satirical nature and his schtick mocking sanitized popstar contemporaries like NSYNC (“why do they sing?”) and Christina Aguilera (“drag her across the Sahara”). 25 years later, NSYNC stands as the 614th highest-ranking artist while Christina’s Chartmetric score puts her in 205th place.
This is all to say that the man is old, musically speaking. He’s old enough to have timely records satirizing Bill Clinton’s presidency. He’s 10 years older than the next oldest artist on the top ten highest-ranking artists, Nicki Minaj, who herself is at least four years older than the rest of the top ten.
While most platforms measure gender and age, Instagram also measures race, making it the best platform to figure out listener demographics. However, Instagram is also not the kindest social media to the Detroit rapper. When sorted by followers, he barely cracks the top 100 artists globally, despite his high ranking Chartmetric score.
Still, it will have to do.
While many critics (or as Em fans call them: haters) say Eminem’s fans are just old white men drinking Mountain Dew, it will be interesting to see if the data proves them wrong.
Gender, Age, and Race Demographics
As Chartmetric succinctly puts it, most of Eminem’s Instagram followers are white, English-speaking men. As such, Eminem’s audience, at least on Instagram, appears to be just as white as Em’s “big white ass.”
Using Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, however, we can measure the percentage between male and female listeners. While it’s the lowest percentage of the Chartmetric top ten, women make up 35.7% of his listeners. Among the rest of the top ten, Eminem and Drake are the only artists with a majority male share.
While Instagram may not crown Em the Rap God, Eminem is the eighth most popular artist on Facebook with 95 million followers. As impressive as that number is, that may not bode well towards the accusations that Eminem’s fans are old heads, given that Gen Z doesn’t want Facebook no more, it’s chopped liver. Using his actual listeners may be the best way to measure age, so here are his YouTube age demographics (surprise, they skew even more towards men).
In 2021, Eminem’s history of misogynistic and homophobic lyrics led to some viral TikToks where members of Gen Z wanted to “cancel” Eminem. Millennials and Lil Nas X came to his defense arguing that Gen Z was too soft to understand Eminem. Truthfully, this seemed like an excuse for millennials to lord their superiority over the younger generation. The numbers reflect this too, given Eminem’s top listeners are surprisingly aged 18-24 with more female listeners than any other age group. The oldest members of that age bracket were ten years old when his last diamond-selling album, 2010’s Recovery, was released. Even when comparing Gen Alpha, female listeners ages 13 t0 17 hold their own with males with only a single percentage point difference.
For 13 to 17 year olds, their first exposure to Eminem in the wild was likely through Revival when he was spitting bars like “Your booty is heavy duty like diarrhea” and “I'm swimmin' in that Egyptian river, 'cause I'm in denial.” As a diehard Em fan who almost hung it up after that, knowing the new generation still carried on in the face of such adversity, like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up an endless hill, is great to hear.
This may make more sense upon realizing Eminem’s recent moves to appeal to the younger crowd. In December 2023, he performed in a virtual concert in the absurdly popular video game Fortnite, the year prior performed during the Super Bowl, and in 2020 received a #1 Billboard hit when he teamed up with late-Gen Z rapper Juice WRLD for the monster hit “Godzilla.”
So, understanding the demographics of Eminem’s fanbase, now the question turns to where are all these people located? Eminem got close enough that you’d think he had a Chartmetric account when he recently rapped, “I am a guest in this house but I turned this bitch to a mansion / That's an expansion, made it gargantuan, England, Germany, France, and Japan's in this bitch / Even Dubai because my music they do buy.”
Save for Japan and Dubai, those locations are all in his top 10 countries by overall audience share. Though the U.S. is home to his biggest audience, South America shows up with Mexico and Brazil in the top 10. And number two is none other than India: with 6.5% of his audience share, it’s surprising he never did a concert in the South Asian country.
The diversity reduces considerably when you measure his popularity by a city’s Spotify affinity though. The entire top ten are European cities, Eurasian city Istanbul, and North American cities Toronto, Montreal, and Chicago. The metrics change a little when measured by YouTube affinity, where North America’s representation and several of the European cities are replaced by three Australian cities and locations in the Middle East like Ankara in Turkey, Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and Tel Aviv in Israel.
Now that the who and where have been answered, the question now becomes what are they listening to?
What are fans listening to?
Using the Spotify Popularity Index, it’s clear Eminem’s new content isn’t necessarily what’s propelling him. His critically-acclaimed early-2000s releases The Eminem Show and The Marshall Mathers LP consistently remain among the most popular. Before you send him off to Vegas to play the oldies, his new releases shake up his numbers considerably, positively and negatively.
Six months after dropping Revival in November of 2017, Eminem’s top albums had Popularity Indexes in the 70s, but that changed drastically when he dropped the surprise album Kamikaze in August of 2018. Kamikaze reinvigorated his career, ditching the stadium pop beats and cringe lyrics (for the most part) for razor-sharp lyricism on beats from top rap producers. Kamikaze became the ninth-best-selling album of 2018 and skyrocketed to a peak 97/100 on the Popularity Index. He got to have his pop music cake and eat it, too, with features on 2018’s eighth-best-selling album, Pink’s American Trauma, and sixth-best-selling album, Ed Sheeran’s Divide. His older albums then rose with the tide, and his albums’ popularity score ranges from the 70s to the 90s to this day.
Two years later, January 2020’s Music To Be Murdered By charted at a perfect 100 Popularity Index score, propelled by hit single “Godzilla.” By late 2020 though, Recovery became his second-most popular album for the rest of the year. This could be because of covid lockdowns. People needed motivation and sought it in Eminem screaming inspirational rhymes over stadium rock in “Not Afraid.” Things changed in 2023, where The Eminem Show and Marshall Mathers LP have since retained their throne along with 2004’s Encore.
When measuring his most popular songs on Spotify, various renditions of early 2000’s hits “Lose Yourself,” “Without Me,” “Till I Collapse,” “The Real Slim Shady,” and “Mockingbird” round out his top five while 2010’s “Love the Way You Lie” takes the sixth spot. Of those songs, the Rihanna-assisted “Love the Way You Lie” is the only one that explicitly tries to be pop (and even then he raps about burning his lover alive). What makes Eminem an enigma in music isn’t that his 20-year-old Grammy-winning classics are popular decades later, but that a decidedly anti-pop song like “Rap God” is his ninth most-listened-to song on Spotify and fourth-highest viewed music video on YouTube. “Rap God” has over one billion YouTube views, yet it’s six minutes long, has no hook, and set a Guinness World Record for most words in a hit single. Only certain schools of rap fans would care about those stats, yet the song is right up there with his pop hits.
Ultimately, some of Em’s critics are right. But despite the haters, critics, and his own terrible rhymes making him seem like an afterthought, Slim Shady still has millions of fans worldwide. He still puts out fantastic songs, too! His verse on the late Juice WRLD’s song “Lace It” was a clever wordplay-filled reflection on drug addiction, and his storytelling in “Darkness” is among his best.
With his popularity only growing with the younger crowd, perhaps Slim will once again reign supreme. So, maybe the first sentence of this article was wrong; it’s a great time to be an Eminem fan.
Graphics by Sarah Kloboves and Nicki Camberg, cover image by Crasianne Tirado; data as of Jan. 24, 2023.