Eminem has always had to fight for everything he’s achieved and, from an early age, he knew that rapping was the only way he could make his way out of the streets. Although millions have had the same dream and failed, Eminem achieved it. Thankfully, for those trying to up their own game, he once provided the key to becoming a true great in the rap game.
The microphone is Eminem’s closest ally and has been ever since he first picked it up. Marshall Mathers ascent into superstardom followed an unlikely but well-documented path that saw him rise through the local rap battle scene in Detroit and become the biggest rapper in the world. It provided Eminem with a vehicle to plough all his pent up anger into, unleashing a style and a rapid flow that still beggars belief.
However, when Eminem became a household name, it wasn’t to do with him bending over for the masses, and his early material was unapologetically true to himself. Instead, he just told his life story and tried to become the best rapper he could.
While, in later years, ‘Slim’ has perhaps veered towards maintaining relevancy above all else, there’s still one golden rule that he still sticks to, and for as long he carries on doing so, then he can keep his head held high.
“I don’t know if it’s fair to say that I don’t really get into those lists [and] that it doesn’t really matter to me,” ‘Shady’ told Forbes before delving into his own mindset when he steps behind the mic. “I know for a fact how I feel. I rap to be the best rapper, but I’m not the only rapper who raps to be the best rapper. Wayne, Cole, Kendrick, Joyner Lucas. They rap to be the best rapper. When you push yourself like that, that’s what inspires greatness. But the lists, sometimes you have to go by era.”
Reflecting upon the golden age of hip hop, Eminem said the artists he’d consider in that same category are all motivated to “rap to be the best rapper,” are Tupac, KRS-One, and Rakim.
Interestingly, he then explained why in his view, no single rapper will ever take the definitive crown of “best of all time”, as the genre changes with every single era.
He noted, “Hip hop went through too many different transitions for anyone really to be the best rapper of all time. It’s evolved. Now people are doing things with flows that I never could have seen happening.”
Perhaps Eminem has a point, and comparing rappers from different generations is impossible because they are operating in completely contrasting circumstances. Although, as he says, all you need to do to be in the conversation is “rap to become the best rapper” and do it with conviction.