Rapper Eminem has aimed fire at Americans refusing to wear a mask in a new collaboration with Kid Cudi, entering a hotly-contested debate over the effectiveness of face coverings.
Masks have proved a divisive topic throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In the US - the world's worst-affected country - just 21 states have made the use of face masks compulsory in public. Two of the states hardest hit by COVID-19 - Florida and Arizona - still don't have statewide mandates on the matter.
US President Donald Trump has stubbornly refused to wear a mask in public, even ridiculing those who have chosen to do so. However, the public health institute Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has strongly recommended the use of masks in public settings, as the country's case total surpasses 3.2 million.
Now, Eminem, 47, and Kid Cudi, 36, have joined forces to take aim at those disregarding the precautionary measure in their new track, 'The Adventures of Moon Man and Slim Shady'. The collaboration was announced on Twitter on Wednesday (local time).
"Bunch of halfwits up in office. Half of us walking around like a zombie apocalypse. Other half are just pissed off and don't want to wear a mask and they're just scoffin'. And that's how you end up catchin' the s**t off 'em," Eminem raps.
"I just used the same basket as you shoppin', now I'm in a f**kin' casket from you coughin'."
In a dramatic change of tone earlier this month, President Trump shifted course and claimed he is "all for masks" - one day after a top Republican called on the President to wear a mask as an example. However, Trump has continued to say a federal mandate regarding their use is not necessary.
'The Adventures of Moon Man and Slim Shady' also reflects on police brutality, including the deaths of African American men George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. On May 25, Floyd was allegedly murdered by a white police officer who knelt on his neck for nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis. On February 23, 25-year-old Arbery was shot and killed while out jogging in Glynn County, Georgia.
"Prayers to George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. How the f**k is it that so many cops are dirty? Stop, man, please officer, I'm sorry. But I can't breathe when I got you on top of me. Your goddamn knee's on my carotid artery."
On Friday (local time), masks became mandatory while shopping in Scotland. Britain is now also considering the compulsory use of face coverings in shopping centres as it continues to grapple with its ongoing outbreak.
Downing Street has faced pointed questions regarding Cabinet ministers and their apparent refusal to wear masks, with no public sightings of Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a face covering on record. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also come under fire for serving food to Wagamama customers without any mouth and nose protection.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has consistently cited a lack of conclusive evidence regarding the benefits of masks as to why they have not been made compulsory.