Eminem, the hugely popular rapper often denounced as homophobic, will perform a duet at the Grammy Awards this month with Elton John, a champion of many gay causes. Eminem's performance was announced Friday by National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences President Michael Greene. The duet, rumored for weeks, was confirmed by John in an interview in Saturday's edition of the Los Angeles Times.
John said Eminem came up with the idea.
"I'm a big fan of his music, and I said I would be delighted to," the British superstar told the Times. "I know I'm going to get a lot of flak from various people who are going to picket the show.
"If I thought for one minute that he was (hateful), I wouldn't do it," he said.
Eminem has drawn frequent criticism for his lyrics which include references to "fags," fantasies of raping his own mother and jokes about domestic violence.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation called Eminem's participation in the event offensive and was particularly disappointed by John's decision to perform with him.
"It's hurtful," said Scott Seomin, entertainment media director for GLAAD. "It's embarrassing."
Last year, the group honored John with an award for his efforts in fighting homophobia. "Elton's actions now totally violate the spirit of this award," Seomin said.
Eminem is nominated for album of the year for "The Marshall Mathers LP" and in three rap categories. The album sold 7.9 million copies in the United States last year.
Greene said he has objections to the album, but that censorship has no place at the Grammys.
"I have issues with the lyrical content of the album, no question about that," the Grammy chief said. "But again, art has its extremities and you can't really predict how they're going to play themselves out. This is one of the extremities for sure."
Greene said the song to be performed would be announced next week, but the Times reported the pair would perform, "Stan," which depicts a violent fan who becomes unbalanced when Eminem does not respond to his letters. The fan eventually kills himself and his girlfriend. John will perform the portion of the song that, on the recording, was a sample of a song by British singer Dido.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which decided to put Eminem in the show, also chooses which songs are performed.
"We dictate who performs what," Greene said.
CBS, which will broadcast the awards Feb. 21 from Staples Center, supports the decision, network spokesman Chris Ender said.
"Eminem has been a force in the music world the past year and we believe there will be a lot of viewers interested in seeing him perform," Ender said.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times