This week about three different people told me Eminem is Top 5. Not Top 5 in 2018. Top 5 since Rap music existed. One person was a child who didn't even know who Rakim was so I shrugged my shoulders. The other two were adults. One of them mentioned Big L in the same sentence and the other person didn't even acknowledge The Notorious B.I.G.. Although Biggie wasn't one of my favorites I have enough sense to mention him as one of the greatest to ever touch a mic. I understood his brilliance and learning that he simply listened to the music and wrote in his head, it puts his almost peerless quality into perspective within such a competitive industry. Let me just say this right off of the rip, Eminem is not my Top 5, Top 10 or even Top 25. I've seen and experienced too much over the twenty plus years of experiencing Hip Hop culture, and its element of Rap, to think otherwise. In fact, Posdnuos from De La Soul is more lyrical, witty, conceptual and substantive than Em. Fight me. See, I came of age in the 1980s and mid-1990s during the Golden Era of Rap music. From that time onward I have witnessed some of the most diverse, creative and substantive music this genre has ever produced. I've also witnessed strait up trash. Now I wouldn't go as far as saying that Eminem is trash. I think he is quite good in terms of rhyming words. If Eminem played basketball and words were ball handling skills he'd be like The Professor. Yet he IS NOT NO Kyrie Irving, Zeke, A.I. God Shammgod, Kenny Anderson or Tim Hardaway.
Hearing debates like this often indicates to me how poorly educated people are about Hip Hop culture, its chronology and Rap music specifically. Artists that we personally like is a matter of opinion. When it comes down to critically analyzing and articulating the Artist's music, its content, delivery, social impact and creativity that's a strata above some people's intellectual pay grade. Unfortunately, it's often that opinionated demographic who has theacultural platform to share opinions veiled as facts. The above video of Shock Gee explaining the technique of some Artists is an excellent example of what some folks don't even perceive who have a very topical, generic, voyeuristic approach towards Rap music and Hip Hop culture. I'm talking about the kinda folks who will wear an NWA or Wu-Tang Clan t-shirt because it looks cool, but would not be caught dead, their pun intended, in these artists' communities or with its community members. Some may think this is pretty innocent. On a local, every day, "It's Hip" kind of way it may seem harmless. When you start talking about Hip Hop culture and the element of Rap music in the larger global context and the Who, What, Where, When and How its narrative is controlled, framed and interpreted it doesn't seem so harmless any more.
For example, Seatsmart.com, one of the biggest ticket brokers in the world published a study in 2016 that stated Country music is Most Intelligent genre in the last decade and yup you guessed it, Eminem is the Most Intelligent Hip Hop/RnB Artist in the last decade. Let that sink in. On the other hand you have a much more legitimate data driven study that determines the size of Rap artists vocabulary and not surprisingly the Wu-Tang Clan and Wu-Affiliate Killah Priest were at the top of the class. In fact the GZA, host of Liquid Science, was second only to Aesop Rock. You can check out the study here: Rap Artist's Vocabulary.
Speaking of vocabulary, did you know that children 6 years old and under from impoverished communities may hear up to 30 million fewer words than their privileged counterparts? Did you also know that this vocabulary gap sets a cognitive, social emotional and economic trajectory that widens between impoverished and privileged children as they grow? Scientists in the area of Neurocognition, Psychology, Neonatology, Biostatistics and others have only recently concluded in their research that there is a direct link between potential mental and physical health outcomes and a child's language development, including disparities between communities and their access to resources. Ironically, people thought Ol Dirty Bastard of the Wu-Tang Clan was crazy for interrupting the 1998 Grammys and announcing, "I don't know how ya'll see it but when it comes to the children, Wu-Tang is for the children. We teach the children, know what I mean? Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best. O.K.? I want ya'll to know that this is O.D.B. and I love you all. Peace!" after losing in the Best Rap album category to Puff Daddy & The Family. Was he crazy or did he and other perceptive people understand what these Scientists and Rap Reporters had to verify about lyricism, access to vocabulary and why Wu-Tang Forever should have won Best Rap Album in 1998?
Although I was a teenager when the Wu-Tang Dynasty began, both of my Queens [daughters] experienced it during their early childhood development years; I took them to Wu-Tang concerts and sometimes had them on stage. The Wu expanded the vocabulary of every day people, and for those of us who had KOS [Knowledge of Self] it built upon a rich vocabulary and culturally coded language that existed in Rap music since its inception that we were fluently speaking in urban America for almost 3 decades. Although my Queens' Mother and I intentionally built upon their vocabulary and helped provide access to resources and developmentally appropriate practices to assist in their growth, their background music played a critical role in their cognitive journey. Today our eldest is a Forensic Psychologist and our youngest is a Chemist [Scientist]. Brain development is experiential and none of that was happenstance.
One of the most powerful inventions of this generation is the word "Hater." It's the forerunner of the Active Denial System (ADS) the U.S. military developed to stop protesters hundreds of over 3,000 feet, almost a mile, away. Yes some people strongly dislike who we are or what we do, and may have a legitimate reason why they think or feel that way. Calling a person a hater is often used to invalidate and not acknowledge their perspective, which may be right and exact. This empty expression can literally be worth the weight of the wind it's carried on out of someone's mouth, yet its effect can leave a person as toothless as an old tiger in captivity. Why am I sharing this? Welp, just to say that just because Eminem is not in mine or others Top whatever, it doesn't mean that we are hating on him. If he is not my Rap God.
(this article was taken from Saladins Blog with permission https://atlantisschool.blogspot.com/2018/09/eminem-is-not-my-rap-god.html)
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!