Content Warning: This article contains references to murders and sexual assaults that some may find upsetting. Reader discretion is advised.
After DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story dropped on Netflix earlier this month, a host of controversies have accompanied it. Not only has the true crime show been criticized by fans for “romanticizing” the notorious serial killer, but the family of one of Dahmer’s victims has spoken out against Netflix for capitalizing on his trauma. Public figures beyond the show are also known to reference Dahmer in their work, including Eminem, Katy Perry and Kesha. Each of these artists named him in their hit songs of the 2010s.
Kesha released her song, “Cannibal,” in 2010, which recalls the terrifying crimes of Dahmer with lyrics like “Be too nice and you’ll go crazy. Yeah, I’ll shoot a Jeffrey Dahmer.” The artist’s mother, songwriter Pebe Sebert, took to TikTok to claim responsibility for that particular lyric and provide context for when the song was written over a decade ago. .
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“That was my line that I wrote in ‘Cannibal’. At the time, Kesha and the other writer were too young to even know who Jeffrey Dahmer was,” Sebert explained. She then shared that she used a rhyming program called Master Writer, which suggested “Jeffrey Dahmer” as the phrase to rhyme with the word “goner.” “I am sorry for everyone who lost a family member in this tragedy. We certainly never meant to hurt anyone,” she apologized. Kesha recently performed “Cannibal” live for Hulu’s Huluween Dragstravaganza and cut lyrics to Jeffrey Dahmer.
Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” was released a few years later in 2013 and features rapper Juicy J. In its verse, he raps “She’s a beast, I call her karma. She’ll eat your heart out like Jeffrey Dahmer.”
Rapper Eminem has also referenced Dahmer in not one, but three of his songs. In “Brainless” in 2013, he rapped “Because I’d probably be Dahmer.” Dahmer’s names can also be heard on his 2009 songs “Must Be The Ganja” and “Bagpipes From Baghdad.”
The musicians’ fans on Twitter are holding the artists responsible for referencing Dahmer, who killed 17 Asian, Latino and black men between 1978 and 1991. One specifically called out Katy, who “cleared” such “vile” lyrics romanticizing Dahmer to be featured. on his track, which soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 2014.
“Why isn’t anyone calling out Katy Perry for allowing such vile and terrible lyrics to be included in one of her hit songs? Jeffrey was a notorious serial killer and Katy CHOSE to romanticize his criminal and inhumane actions. my stomach. She MUST apologise,” the fan said wrote before admitting that it is “traumatizing” to know that the song has gone to number 1 in a separate tweet.
“I didn’t know how scary Kesha’s song ‘Cannibal’ was until I read the lyrics! Damn, that’s nasty. Tbh I didn’t know how good the singers sang Jeffrey Dahmer until I watched the show. Like why and how? !” another fan wrote.
Others have come to the singers’ defense, particularly Kesha, who publicly faced a legal battle with her former producer, Dr. Luke, after accusing him of sexual assault in 2017’s Cannibal’ (which has been produced by Dr. Luke) that his discography still vetted by Dr. Luke is performative in regards to [sexual violence],” somebody said.
The singers are apparently facing more backlash than Eminem, although he has referenced Dahmer on several occasions. At present, each artist has yet to publicly address the controversy.
Sam is Seventeen’s editorial assistant, covering pop culture, celebrity news, health and beauty. When she’s not blushing her cheeks, you can probably find her live-tweeting or doing SwiftToks.