Eminem’s Fortnite headlining debut: If you blinked, you missed it

Fortnite players had a hip-hopicon in their backyard Saturday — but the much-touted Big Bang amounted to a quick cameo.

Eminem was the star of the hit video game’s latest virtual happening, an eagerly awaited musical event dubbed the Big Bang, with the Detroit rapper appearing in avatar form for an alternate-dimension show.

For Eminem fans hyped going into Saturday’s in-game event — many of whom were invariably Fortnite first-timers — the moment may have been something of a letdown: The rapper’s screen time ran about four minutes and featured just a pair of songs, both abridged: “Lose Yourself” and “Godzilla.” The latter included a moment with the late Juice WRLD.

Eminem appeared virtually in Fortnite's Big Bang event on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

Eminem’s segment was part of a broader, 11-minute sequence that began by whisking players away from Fortnite’s Battle Royale island and into a fantasy cosmos, including a trip through a Lego world and desert racing scene.

(Fortnite’s creator, Epic Games, announced Saturday that Lego, Rocket Racing and a music feature called Fortnite Festival will be introduced into the game next week.)

From that eye-popping opening, fans were eventually deposited into an arena setting, where the familiar opening guitar lick of “Lose Yourself” kicked in and Eminem’s character appeared onstage, decked out in turn-of-the-millennium style rap attire.

More than anything, the Big Bang was a showcase of visual kinetic energy from Fortnite’s creative team, which clearly devoted much attention to detail. Eminem’s role, when all was said and done, seemed to be merely licensing his image and a pair of existing studio recordings.

Eminem hasn’t staged a large-scale tour in years, and his last full shows came with a series of stadium dates in 2019. So there was big-time buzz going into Saturday’s Fortnite appearance: a rare chance to see the rapper in action, albeit in digital guise.

The Dec. 7 launch of Lego Fortnite was announced by Epic Games as part of its Big Bang event.

The Eminem virtual show followed previous metaverse events within Fortnite, including musical sequences from Travis Scott, Ariana Grande and electronic artist Marshmello, who headlined the game’s inaugural in-game concert in 2019.

As part of the Big Bang moment, Eminem skins are now available for purchase by Fortnite players, including designs based on Slim Shady and the Rap Boy look made famous in Em’s “Without Me” video.

Fortnite, meanwhile, continues its momentum atop the video game heap: In November, ahead of Saturday’s event, new records were notched for daily players (44 million-plus) and monthly players (100 million-plus), according to an Epic rep.

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