We ask because the fine guardians of musical integrity over at TMZ.com have accused the glowering rapper of moving his mouth to a pre-recorded track during his performance of the new song "Berzerk" on last weekend's show.
Showtracker caught Eminem's performance during the regularly scheduled West Coast airing and then rewatched the bits highlighted by TMZ, and we're still not sure. Some parts of the vocal don't seem to match up with what Eminem's mouth is doing. But other sections look and sound live.
That seems to square with what's coming out of the rapper's camp.
"He rhymed over a layered vocal with accent tracks to make it sound like the album," the Wrap quoted Eminem's publicist as saying. Showtracker asked for elaboration but didn't immediately hear back.
As for the "does it matter" part? Lip-syncing is part of an ongoing debate over musical authenticity. TMZ points out that Ashlee Simpson was harshly criticized after she was caught lip-syncing on "SNL" in 2004. So there's the whiff of a double standard: If Simpson had to pay a price, why doesn't Eminem?
On the other hand, these are different circumstances. Eminem seems to have been rapping at least part of his song (in contrast to Simpson, who began doing a jig when she heard the track to a song she wasn't expecting to perform). And — dirty little secret time — musicians use pre-recorded tracks all the time when they're performing on television. Why? Because the stakes are high, and if they hit a clammy note or mangle the song form when the cameras are running, the price will be much higher than just a snarky item on TMZ.
What do you think? Was Eminem lip-syncing — and should we care whether he was?