Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has hit out at Eminem for an “unnecessarily hurtful and deeply disrespectful” lyric about the 2017 bomb attack in the city.
In a song on his new album, the US star raps: “I’m contemplating yelling ‘bombs away’ on the game/Like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting.”
That is followed by the sound of an explosion.
Twenty-two people died when a suicide bomber attacked a crowd after Grande’s gig at Manchester Arena in May 2017.
The lines feature in the song Unaccommodating, in which the star boasts about his impact on hip-hop. It appears on his album Music To Be Murdered By, which was released on Friday.
In a statement to BBC News, Mr Burnham said: “This is unnecessarily hurtful and deeply disrespectful to the families and all those affected.”
Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett died in the attack, also voiced her disapproval after being informed of the two songs on Friday morning.
“Feels like he is piggybacking on the fame of Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber and says distasteful things about other celebrities,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Not clever. Totally pointless. And before all Eminem fans pounce on me, I am not interested and will not engage.”
Murray has campaigned for the introduction of Martyn’s Law, which would require venues to introduce more stringent security checks.
Hett’s former partner Russell Hayward also voiced his disapproval of Eminem’s latest lyrics, writing: “It’s disappointing but not surprising that #Eminem would use controversial lyrics about the Manchester bomb, dragging the victims’ families & Ariana back into a very dark time.
“Not sure how popular he is these days but I hope any success he gets from the back of this is worth it.”
His comments were echoed by Grande’s fans, who described Unaccommodating as “a pathetic attempt to get attention”.
One fan tweeted the rapper saying: “You’re so disgusting I hope u know that. What u said was very uncalled for and so hurtful to so many people.”
.@Eminem‘s new song Unaccommodating includes the line “I’m contemplating yelling bombs away on the game like I’m outside of an Ariana Grande concert waiting”
It’s a shameful thing to sing and disrespects the memory of those who tragically lost their lives in a terrorist attack
— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) January 17, 2020
Can’t understand why Eminem would donate money to the Manchester Arena victims’ fund and then release a song so insulting to their families
— Emily Heward (@EmilyHeward) January 17, 2020
Eminem previously pledged his support to victims of the bombing in 2017, and urged fans to donate money to families who had been affected.
— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) May 25, 2017
This is not the first time the 47-year-old has referenced the attack in song.
In a 2018 freestyle, he rapped about a brainwashed suicide bomber “seeing Ariana Grande sing her last song of the evening/And as the audience from the damn concert is leaving/Detonates the device strapped to his abdominal region.”
Unaccommodating is the opening track on the star’s 11th album, which he released, unannounced, on Friday morning.
The 20-track album, a follow-up to 2018’s Kamikaze, features cameos from Q-Tip, Ed Sheeran and the late Juice Wrld.
In a contrast to the Manchester Arena lyric, the album’s lead single, Darkness, advocates tighter gun control laws in the US.
The song and video reference the 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting in Las Vegas, in which 58 people died, with Eminem playing the role of an isolated, mentally-disturbed character who plots a murderous rampage to gain notoriety.
The video ends with a montage of news reports from recent mass shootings, captioned: “When will it end? When enough people care.”
Eminem then urges fans to register to vote in the upcoming US elections, writing: “Make your voice heard and help change gun laws in America”.
The video also links to a website with information and links to various anti-gun violence organisations including Everytown For Gun Safety, March For Our Lives and Sandy Hook Promise.
It is not the first time the star has addressed the issue. Performing at last year’s iHeartRadio music awards, he delivered a verse attacking the National Rifle Association’s hold over politicians, rapping: “They love their guns more than our children.”
At the time of writing, he had not responded to the criticism over Unaccommodating. The BBC has contacted his publicists for comment.