Eminem Regretted ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet’ So Much That He Wrote a 4-Minute Plea for Forgiveness to His Mom

Eminem is widely considered to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. An artist who has managed to reinvent himself successfully with each passing decade, Eminem has been a staple in the music world since the mid-90s. Eminem has often incited controversy, whether it is due to aggressive lyrics or his series of feuds with other performers. However, one of Eminem’s biggest scandals involved a song that he wrote in 2002 titled “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” a tune that was widely interpreted as being about his troubled relationship with his mother. 

Eminem’s song ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet’ was interpreted as a dig at his mother

Eminem was already a huge star in 2002 when he released the tune “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.” He had already made headlines for his habit of writing autobiographical songs that detailed his tense relationships with his ex-wife, Kimberly Scott, and his young daughter, Hailie Jade. However, the song “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” was probably his most inflammatory to date. The song featured lyrics like: “Now I would never diss my own momma just to get recognition. Take a second to listen for who you think this record is dissing but put yourself in my position. Just try to envision witnessing your momma popping prescription pills in the kitchen.”

Considering Eminem has been open about his troubled relationship with both his father and his mother, many fans concluded that the song was a direct reference to his own mother, Debbie Nelson-Mathers. Eminem was raised almost exclusively by his mother, and moved around a great deal as a child, a situation that seems to have left the artist rather embittered. The accusations of drug abuse and child neglect in the tune made headlines, but the song itself received critical acclaim, with the album it was released on, The Eminem Show, becoming 2002’s highest-selling album in the United States and around the world. According to Complex, the album also earned Eminem multiple Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album.

Eminem released an apology song for his mother in 2014

Eminem | Pierre Andrieu/AFP via Getty Images

Even though Eminem’s song “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” became one of the artist’s most popular songs, there’s no doubt that it didn’t help his damaged relationship with his mother. In fact, it seems as though Eminem himself was bothered by the words he wrote, especially following a legal battle with his mother, where she sued him for defamation, according to ABC News. In May 2014, according to Slate, Eminem released a new song titled “Headlights,” which seemed to tell the story of a hurt mother’s tense relationship with her son.

According to Contact Music, the song includes the lyrics “Never thinking about who what I said hurt, in what verse, My mom probably got it the worst, The brunt of it, but as stubborn as we were, Did I take it too far?” The accompanying video even features a scene at the end where Eminem hugs his mother as the lyrics “regardless I don’t hare you ’cause, Ma, You’re still beautiful to me, ’cause you’re my mom” play. The Spike Lee-directed music video made waves with Eminem’s fanbase, as many saw the song, and the video, as an apology to Debbie Nelson-Mathers. 

What is Eminem’s relationship with his mother like these days?

Eminem seems to sincerely regret detailing his personal feuds in his songs. With the release of tunes like “Headlights,” Eminem has turned over a new leaf, seemingly in order to focus on healing those estrangements. These days, Eminem and Debbie Nelson-Mathers have a better relationship than in the past, with Mathers living a quiet life out of the spotlight. Both mother and son have stated that they love and respect each other—in spite of the pain of the past.

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