In response to recent criticism over music and other pop culture references to Jeffrey Dahmer, Kesha’s mother Pebe Sebert explained the lyric in her daughter’s 2010 single “Cannibal,” which references the serial killer.
Sebert, a songwriter, who co-wrote “Cannibal” and the specific lyric in question—I’ll pull a Jeffrey Dahmer—went on TikTok to explain the lyric and also revealed that she came up with the line featuring Dahmer’s name.
“The whole Jeffrey Dahmer lyric in ‘Cannibal’ is a big controversy right now, and I thought I’d just say a few things about it because that was my line that I wrote in ‘Cannibal,’” said Sebert in a TikTok video on Oct. 2, while she was in Panama for an event for The Magic Mission, non-profit dog rescue organization she founded in 2021.
The title track off Kesha’s 2010 EP—which followed her debut album Animal, and also included singles “We R Who We R” and “Blow”—”Cannibal” continues I eat boys up, breakfast and lunch / Then when I’m thirsty, I drink their blood after the Dahmer line.
“At the time, Kesha and the other writer were too young to even know who Jeffrey Dahmer was,” added Pebert. “Literally the way it happened was I have this rhyming program called MasterWriter for songwriters. We were looking for a rhyme for ‘goner.’ At the very end of the widest rhymes was ‘Jeffrey Dahmer,’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s the perfect lyric.'”
Pebert added that the song was never meant to be insensitive to families and other loved ones of Dahmer’s victims, but was more of a “tongue-in-cheek” lyric linked to Kesha’s experience in high school.
“Kesha was not the most popular girl in high school,” shared Pebert. “She ended up not even getting asked to the prom. Later on, when she got famous, all these guys that, you know, never paid any attention to her were coming around and like, ‘Remember me? Remember me?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, now that I’m famous you’re up my anus.’ It was a tongue-in-cheek, funny song. It was not actually about cannibalism. It was just a title.”
The recent controversy over references to the serial killer in pop culture comes as the Netflix limited run series Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, was released on Sept. 21. The film, starring Evan Peters as Dahmer, follows the story of the serial killer, who murdered and consumed 17 men between 1978 and 1991. Victims’ family members have also criticized Netflix for profiting off their tragedies.
Katy Perry’s 2013 single “Dark Horse” is also under scrutiny for its lyric I call her karma / She eats your heart out like Jeffrey Dahmer, while Eminem has three tracks mentioning Dahmer: “Must Be the Ganja,” “Brainless,” and “Bagpipes From Bagdad.”
“I’m sorry for anyone who’s lost a family member in this tragedy,” added Sebert in her post. “We certainly never meant to hurt anybody or make anybody feel bad. There’s a movie out right now [Netflix series] that’s kind of bringing attention back. That song’s been out for more than 10 years, probably almost 12 years. This is not something that we’d recently written.”
She added, “Once again, Jeffrey Dahmer’s name wouldn’t even be in the song if it wasn’t for the MasterWriter that threw his name up there because he was a person who became famous, unfortunately, because of what he did. Jeffrey Dahmer was just part of the culture back then. Everybody talked about him for many years. What he had done was so extreme and so worse than anything anyone had ever done that anybody knew about.”
Photo: Dana Trippe / Shore Fire Media