Now that some time has settled in the long awaited war of words between Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly, I am sure that I won’t have been the only person disappointed with the eventual outcome. It was painful enough that I had to listen through Not Alike by Eminem again in the lead up to this article, but knowing now how much of a nothing ‘rap beef’ came after, it only saddens me even more. Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly, two supremely talented artists in their own right, one of which being arguably the biggest artist of all time, couldn’t impress the general public in the end. The real question is; why?
Diss tracks and rap beefs have been a staple of Hip-Hop music for a while, the art of insulting someone through a song is a highly regarded talent, and for most artists it seems to bring out some of their best work. The extra emotional edge and sheer willpower that gets put into these songs creates tracks that become some of the most celebrated of artist’s careers.
It was only a few months ago that Drake was at the heart of more beef when he and Pusha T went head to head. Fans thought it was another undisputed win for the Canadian when he released Duppy Freestyle, but it was on Pusha T’s response that we found the real hard-hitting stuff. He claimed that Drake had a secret child, and that he was hiding his son from the world because the mother, Sophie Brussaux, was an adult movie star. This ended up being so harsh that Drake did not respond, ending in a resounding win for Pusha. Those who don’t understand the genre will most likely be confused as to why fans find this kind of thing entertaining, however I like to compare it to a boxing match. Boxers fight with their hands, rappers fight with their words. The time old hobby of popular media is constantly arguing which artist/actor/sportsman is better, and all rap beef gives us is a simple way of finding out the answer.
So, with all of that considered, what was so disappointing about the beef between Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly? I’ll say immediately that, other than Eminem’s initial diss track, I thought the songs that the two of them released were still fairly good. Rap Devil and Killshot were both solid tracks, but for different reasons. In short, Not Alike had a great instrumental and feature from Royce da 5’9”, but Eminem’s flow and lyrics were painful to say the least (as they have been for a while now). For those of you well-versed in your internet memes, listen to Not Alike and ‘cash me outside how bout dat’ girl Bhad Bhabie’s Hi Bich (not a typo, it’s genuinely spelt like that), side by side, and you’ll hear the striking similarities. Never should a legendary artist of Eminem’s calibre be taking pointers from a teenager who has appeared on Dr. Phil, ever.
The highly publicised response from MGK, Rap Devil, then came out and shocked everyone. The instrumental was gritty and well produced, while Kelly’s flow was cold and menacing. Shots were taken at Eminem’s beard, age, and apparent softness, but it didn’t go much further than that, lacking any real dirt on the Detroit rapper. That’s where I took issue, it was a great song, but a weak diss track, despite some funny lines about Eminem ‘yelling at the mic’ when he’s in the studio.
In my opinion, Eminem’s response, Killshot, was the complete opposite. The instrumental was non-existent, and his flow was questionable, but the lyrics were there. The general gist of the track was that MGK is irrelevant in comparison to Eminem, and that even at the age of 45 he is still outselling Kelly. It was a good response, but not a perfect one.
But that’s exactly it. Neither of these songs represents the best work from either artist. It was a rap beef that was glamorised and cleaned up for the general public to enjoy, not for real Rap and Hip-Hop fans. The biggest problem with the beef was one that I discovered while reading an article about how both artists may have gone too far in their respective tracks, without taking into consideration that ‘going too far’ is exactly the point. They don’t like each other, why should they censor themselves?
At the end of the day, it was clear that they both held back. All we’ve had since Killshot was released is more bickering, an Eminem interview that he set up but still struggles to get words out in, and a Machine Gun Kelly interview where he does nothing but whine like a little kid. If only it could have turned into something more.
by Joshua O’Mahoney