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Eminem is known for his disses. There’s one group of people he’s dissed a lot over the years: pop stars. Everyone from Britney Spears to Mariah Carey has been the subject of an Eminem diss.

Some might wonder if there’s a reason why Eminem has dissed so many pop stars — especially considering he’s worked with so many. Is he just trying to be funny? Or could his antipathy towards pop musicians come from somewhere else?

Lady Gaga and Eminem | Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Why Eminem dissed pop musicians — but not Ed Sheeran

During his early career, Eminem made fun of basically every major pop star in the business. This reflected a divide in the music world. At the time, a lot of hip-hop fans looked down on top 40 pop. Though lots of hip-hop fans still feel that way, music streaming has made it less common for music fans to be devotees of one particular genre.

Then, in the 2010s, something changed, Eminem began collaborating with pop singers quite a bit. Many of his most successful singles from that decade were collaborations with major pop stars like Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and Ed Sheeran. 

Ed Sheeran | Frank Hoensch/Redferns via Getty Images

In a 2017 interview with Vulture, David Marchese asked Eminem if Sheeran was precisely the sort of artist he would have mocked years prior. “I don’t think so. He’s not a boy band, he’s an artist whose craft I respect.” In addition, Eminem explained why he mocked so many pop singers in the first place. 

He said “The reason that I went at pop stars back then is because people were calling me a pop rapper. 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.”

Did Eminem hate all the pop singers he mocked?

Eminem | Theo Wargo/Getty Images

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Apparently, just because Eminem dissed a pop singer in his lyrics doesn’t mean he looks down on them. For example, Eminem dissed Lady Gaga in the Bad Meets Evil song “A Kiss.” In the track, Eminem raps “Tell Lady Gaga she can quit her job at the post office/She’s still a male lady/Wouldn’t f*ck with her d*ck/You heard it/The verdict’s in.” The lyric plays on an offensive false rumor that Gaga was a man in drag. Although this lyric isn’t respectful, Eminem said it wasn’t born out of a dislike of Gaga.

According to NME, he said “I think Lady Gaga, as an artist you know, she’s undeniable. That was one of them things written where sometimes I get a joke in my head and I kinda want to share it with the world. So it was just one of them things man, and it’s, you know, it’s all in fun. It’s hip-hop.”

Eminem attacked a lot of people. Sometimes, his attacks were born out of his distaste for being called a pop rapper. Other times, he was just trying to have fun — problematic or otherwise.

Also see: Eminem on His Daughter, Feeling Worthless, & Money