What’s your top 5? In no particular order, mine is Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, and Andre 3000. It’s a strange list, and seasoned heads will immediately note the lack of a Biggie, a Tupac, a Nas, or a Jay-Z. And if you’d asked me a year ago (or even a week ago), Tupac might have been on my list. I’m a white boy from NDG, so you know, westside ‘til I die. But recently, I’ve been watching old Busta Rhymes videos, and I just think his visual style is second to none.
And how about some female rappers? Just because my list doesn’t presently include any doesn’t mean that the likes of Missy Elliot, Remy Ma, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, and more etceteras, don’t deserve to be in the conversation. Hell, as I’m writing this and finding links I’m thinking that Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj will both be on it next week.
The one person my top five includes that won’t come as a surprise or a point of contention for most is Eminem. Not only is he in almost everybody’s top 5 (at all times), but he has a ravenous and spiteful core fan base the likes of which doesn’t really exist elsewhere in hip hop, at least in terms of scope.
Here’s the thing, though: my opinion on the subject doesn’t even matter. Mostly because I am an outsider to hip hop. I only ever tried to freestyle battle anyone once. It was during the 7th grade, and it didn’t go well. Also, I’m white. And as much as Lord Jamar sucks at making it his point, he does have one. By that token, (get it? Token? Sorry.) a lot of Eminem fans that belong to the aforementioned ravenous group shouldn’t have too much to say on the subject either. That, along with the fact that, let’s face it, most of them probably don’t know a whole lot about hip hop’s roots.
But even the people who HAVE a voice in hip hop can’t agree on who the “GOAT” might be. People discuss, argue, and bicker constantly, to the point of pettiness. That’s because there is no single GOAT. Sometimes, there’s a greatest rapper of the moment, and other times there are several. Like them or not, everybody I named in and out of my top 5 at one point represented that.
Hip hop is, at its core, about struggle. And as struggles change and evolve, so does hip hop. So does its story. No one person can represent the current struggle forever. It’s a generational game. You pay tribute to the old masters, and allow new artists to usher in change. Cole said it best when he said there ain’t gonna be no more kings.
My point is, some of y’all need to settle down with this shit. Yes, Eminem is one of my favorites too, but holy crap he is definitely not the best rapper in the world. At least, not right now. And this is coming from a guy who actually LIKED his last two albums. (Although I’ll admit that Revival was mostly hot garbage, but that’s another rant.) Stop jumping down peoples’ throats when they say another rapper is better. Bitch, they might be.
Also remember, my opinion on this topic does not actually matter. Thank you for your time.
Written by Syd Ghan
*Edited by Dominic Abate