Over the years, Eminem has dissed everyone from Christina Aguilera and the Insane Clown Posse to Will Smith and his own mother, suggesting that few are safe from Marshall Mathers’ lyrical gut punches. But the target of his latest diss track is still somewhat surprising — and not just because his net worth dwarfs that of every single person Eminem has beefed with previously combines.
In a diss track dropped by surprise this month, Em throws out 2 minutes and 46 seconds of shots at Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Well, kind of.
In fact, the track — titled Eminem Deepfake Song — gives away its central conceit in its name. This is not the real Eminem, but rather a soundalike A.I. whose songwriting and performance abilities are the result of a text-generating algorithm and some impressive deepfake audio speech synthesis.
While it doesn’t sound flawless, it’s nonetheless a generally on-point track that sounds convincingly like the artist it’s modeled on. Even if lines like “You’re just a little big stupid internet clown” don’t quite have the career-ending knockout power of some of the top-selling rapper’s best lines.
“We inputted, ‘Mark Zuckerberg diss in the style of Eminem’ into the A.I. program Shortly Read, which uses GPT-3,” Eli Weiss, one half of the Calamity A.I. collective responsible for the project, told Digital Trends. “Within seconds, it wrote the lyrics. We sent those to 30 Hertz, another Youtuber, who uses Tacotron 2 to generate a synthesized voice that imitates Eminem. By feeding the program various real vocal snippets, he’s trained it to create vocals that imitate different rappers. Then 30 Hertz takes the resulting vocals and pairs them to a beat. The finished product is a song that was made with very little human artistry. It’s a combination of the computer juggling various roles of the song production process.”
The unreal Slim Shady
Jacob Vaus, Weiss’ partner in deepfake crime, told Digital Trends: “We were blown away at how real the song sounds. The lyrics aren’t as good as Eminem’s, but the A.I was able to pick up on a lot of his common tropes. Things like quick, clever jokes, as well as some more offensive humor. Though the rhyme scheme was off, it got his writing down pretty well.”
Vaus pointed out that the text-generating algorithm — which Digital Trends has previously covered in-depth — was not given any additional information about Eminem or Zuckerberg in order to create its rhyme. “The song is sometimes general, but there are [some] specific lines that have knowledge about Zuckerberg — like how he owns Instagram, is a CEO, [and more],” he said.
The implications of demos like this are profound, not least for when someone does attempt to create a track or album that’s intended to be more than just a fun gimmick. Do rappers own their own voices and rhyme styles? Is GPT-3 the ghostwriter of the future? For now, we’re just happy to ponder the irony that Eminem, who once rhymed that “to rap like a computer … must be in my genes” is now having computers take a bite (byte?) out of his style. Will the real Slim Shady please stand up, indeed.
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