Is there a “Most Controversial Eminem Track” award? If there is, the winner might be “Kim”, the rapper’s second song about killing his then-wife. He has claimed it’s a prequel to “’97 Bonnie and Clyde,” his first song about killing his then-wife.
Lingua Ignota is the project of musician Kristin Hayter, which fuses classical, metal, industrial, noise and prog influences, among other things, into something fairly hard to pin down. Domestic violence is a major theme of Hayter’s music as she is a survivor of abusive relationships. Her new cover of “Kim” was originally intended to be part of an all-covers album highlighting misogyny in the music industry, but that project appears to be on hold, so she released it herself.
Her version significantly trims the lyrics – which number over 800 words – so if you are looking for a lyrically-faithful cover, look elsewhere. This version begins with a wall of noise before Hayter begins singing Eminem’s verses in her highly theatrical style. The melody is completely different as well. The mood is ominous and mournful rather than the pure rage of the original. It’s only in the chorus that Hayter pays any attention to the melody of the original song – still much slower and much more noisy than the original but, given the power of Hayter’s voice, actually comes off as more musical.
Hayter’s decision to cover a song about killing women highlights the way in which that is a regular part of our musical culture – whether it’s an old folk murder ballad or blues song or a 21st century rap song. Her performance of these lyrics and the underlying wall of noise remove whatever nuance Eminem intended and shows them for what they are for some of his many fans: a celebration of domestic violence. Fans of the song can now see it in a different light, from the side of the victim.