Public Enemy’s Chuck D has defended rap pioneer Melle Mel after he received backlash for his recent comments about the artistry of Eminem and Kendrick Lamar and their place in the history of the genre.
The Public Enemy leader took to Twitter to offer an explanation for Melle Mel’s critiques of both Eminem and Kendrick. According to him, Mel – who made his name in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – was one of the original forces in early hip-hop, so he knows what it takes to be one of the best. The Public Enemy man then compared Mel to NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain, one of the game’s most prominent players.
“Understand Melle Mel was so dominant over the rest of the pack in the first 5 years of records its hard to comprehend for born after MC folk,” Chuck wrote. “Its why i call him Wilt Chamberlain and Wilt had a crate of critiques for the rappers after him including ME. Just Let Mel be Wilt lol.”
Chuck mounted his defence after Mel claimed that Eminem is only classed as a “Top 5” rapper because of his skin colour. When sitting down with The Art of Dialogue last week, Mel asserted that race played a role in the ‘Lose Yourself’ musician claiming the fifth spot on Billboard‘s ’50 Greatest Rappers of All Time List’, ahead of influential figures such as Biggie, Lil Wayne, Ice Cube, LL Cool J and Rakim.
“Obviously he’s a capable rapper,” Mel explained. “If you was talking about sales, he’s sold more than everybody. If you were talking about rhyme style, okay he got a rhyme style. But he’s white. He’s white!”
He continued: “So now if Eminem was another n-gga like all the rest of us, would he be Top 5 on that list when a n-gga that could rhyme just as good as him is 35? That had records and all that? He’s 35. He’s white.”
The Grandmaster then questioned the importance of Kendrick Lamar, who came second on Billboard‘s list, behind Jay-Z. According to him, the To Pimp a Butterfly rapper is a decent lyricist and has good songs, but he “[doesn’t] translate into the street part of Hip Hop.”
“I don’t know what records he made like that,” Mel said. “I might know one or two of them, but I don’t think you even hear Kendrick in the club like that.”
He concluded: “Nobody wants to rap like Kendrick Lamar. Nobody wants to rap like Eminem. A lot of people wanted to rap, like ‘Pac and Biggie.”