Veiled Shots At The “Kings” Of Rap
one of the real dilemmas i’ve had with elevating eminem into the Greatest Rappers Of All Time discussion is his lack of rhythm. it always seems as if the beat is incidental to his composition, and that he actually knows that it isn’t his strength to lavish the beat with his flows, preferring usually to overwhelm it or add another percussive element.
it’s the same dilemma i’ve had about placing kanye west among the GOAT rappers: it’s just very hard to consider him in that way when most of his flows sound like he’s about to dive underwater and swim with his eyes open for the first time. breath control, cadence, rhythm and, essentially, flow are one big compound skill that the greatest emcees manipulate to great effect. if one or two of those factors are out of exact sync with the beat, it becomes something else. it might be rap-rock, or dub-step or deep house, but it’s not rap music. that doesn’t it make it any better or worse, but it is certainly a different category.
but this last minute of “Rap God” is an allusion to rhythm, and to his greatest deficiency as an emcee maybe turning into a strength over time. if that is the case, then hov, kanye, lupe, nas, monch, and anyone else we could name…have a lot to worry about. eminem was never married to the rhythm, or if he was, it was an uneasy matrimony. this verbal dance all over the beat, over every corner of it and through every space in it, seems nimble and masterful. the footwork is kobe good. the rhythm ambassadors are on notice.