Eminem vs. MGK: The White Rapper Conundrum of Rap Beefs

By:  H.T., Website:  Rogue Black Nerd

In the history of hip hop, there has always been beef.  Rap beef exists either to keep rappers on each others toes or to bring up slights against each other.  From Notorious B.I.G. vs Tupac, to Jay Z vs Nas, to 50 Cent vs Ja Rule, to Meek Mill vs Drake, to Nicki Minaj vs Remy Ma, and all beefs in between hip hop has fostered a constant need for competition and its biggest beefs in ways have been reflections of the culture at large.  Some reflect the growing commercialization of the culture, some the different sub genres of it, some were reflections of different mindsets, some were just egos clashing and a few were basically older generations fighting with the newest.  Then there’s this beef.

In recent weeks, Eminem and MGK have been going back and forth after Em mentioned MGK on his recent album “Kamikaze”, MGK responded with “Rap Devil” and Eminem with “Killshot”.  Let me start by saying that in my opinion, I am siding with Eminem, not due to geographical affiliations (I’m from Michigan) or a legit hate for MGK, but rather that MGK really isn’t impressive TO ME.  To me, MGK comes off like a bad champloo of Fred Durst, Yelawolf and essentially every run of the mill colorful haired rapper out today.  MGK all in all is pretty much proof what Em had been saying for years, starting with his song “White America”.

Look at these eyes, baby blue, baby just like yourself,

If they were brown, Shady lose, Shady sits on the shelf,

But Shady’s cute, Shady knew, Shady’s dimples would help

Make ladies swoon, baby—ooh, baby!—look at my sales,”

But all in all, looking at what has become of hip hop, I’m not shocked to see what has become of things.  I’m not someone who believed that white rappers would come in and take over hip hop as frankly the only way for that to occur on a mass scale would be that black people would ultimately have to do a cultural shunning of it the way we did Rock & Roll, and really I’m not sure you can do that en mass.  Hip hop was in danger of being taken over, but not by a racial agenda.  Rather, it was by corporate interests, some of which that benefit off of selling ideals that offer no benefit and all superficial wants.  Now will I say that Eminem is the cause of such things?  No, but I will say that he indirectly benefits from the dumbing down of hip hop by the fact that as frankly I will admit that he’s been on the downswing of his career but got a Grammy for one of his worst albums because hip hop’s mainstream has become so aggressively malaise that this was the only thing mainstream wise that they could get away with giving a grammy.

The beef between Eminem and MGK sadly has overshadowed the death of a white rapper that ACTUALLY was accepted by much of the culture, Mac Miller.  I’ll be honest, his death was jarring as I was in high school when his first few songs hit the scene and I had to say that he was a legit talent and will be missed.  But all in all, we watch as Eminem battles it out effortlessly with both MGK and G Easy, and frankly it’s sad because any black rappers that could come in and sweep either of the two would look like a bully with how effortlessly they’d make it look, and the ones that can’t are making a noted effort to be mediocre because sadly, part of the downside to, yes, selling any sort of non-white cultural element to white people will garner high yields but will require a drastic drop in its original quality.  Look at Taco Bell, look At Olive Garden, look at PF Changs, hell, look at KFC.  Hip hop in its infancy was a music style built from a community that needed to express itself in a constructive way while surrounded by abject poverty, crime and systematic racism.  I’m not saying the genre needed to die out, but I’m saying that when you account for how and why this genre of music has gotten to where it’s at now, where the biggest beef is white rappers feuding and dying, consider that we got here not because they took over, but that after a certain point many black artists got lazy and many white artists, fueled by wanting to be as good as the past artists they remember, surpassed them.  Does the racial politics of labels play into this in part?  Absolutely.  But not in that good black artists are downplayed, but rather that many black artists have decided to dumb themselves down to get the most money rather than make actual art.  This is not to say there are no truly creative artists out here, but there should be more in hip hop that make a name for themselves.  Hell, I liked Odd Future as that was a great project full of great talent overall, but after them, there wasn’t a huge crop up of similar talent anymore.  Suddenly everyone wanted to make songs with great beats but shitty writing, suddenly everyone wanted to make songs about doing copious amounts of drugs, drugs that have killed a few artists then and now.

Honestly, how could people be mad when Macklemore hit the scene and was a pop sensation when almost everyone else was trying to be a gang member or a drug addict?  Seriously, TDE as a whole and J Cole are still great, but they weren’t making the kind of music that was popular en mass.  In fact, that being said, I can’t blame black people.  You, white people, are to blame in part for why all these shitty rappers are popping up and staying up.  Eminem is the ghost of what began the start of the direct marketing of hip hop to the demographics that exceed 500K, but MGK is the culmination of the reality of the false idea by white people of what it means to appeal to black people, that being appealing to our ignorance more than our desire to know more.  MGK is by far the worst corporate hip hop execs could find to put in front of us and Eminem is the best they could find skill wise, but lacking as far as relevancy.  And this is what you get:  the man without a country vs the boy without originality.  I hate when I have to bring up who sells more albums in a beef as sales only dictate that you can sell, but not that you’re actually talented.  But Eminem sold BECAUSE he has talent.  Hell, his worst album outsold MGKs best album.

The problem here isn’t Eminem, as the man has a right to take shots at whoever whenever he wants.  Honestly, I’d much rather watch Em battle Joe Budden as the two are more equally matched and have legit issues with each other, but this comes off like a middling rapper that frankly knows that without this, he’s got essentially nothing really left but going on to be a cult favorite rapper that likely would end up as the opening act for bands like Five Finger Death Punch just to break even.  As much as I don’t wish to side with Eminem as I frankly did not like his last two albums, but Killshot is a better song and Kelly refuses to respond out of anger that he was called a mumble rapper.  I could go on about how this is sort of indicative of some of the ideas past generations have about millennials, but the music writes itself…

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