Ok, so I’m not the best person to be writing about this topic, especially since I don’t know some of the rappers in the competition. But I think I’ll get the ball rolling.
Last week, Vibe magazine announced that Eminem had won its Best Rapper Alive competition. A NCAA style bracket tournament that pins 64 of todays top MCs against each other. (Here’s the Bracket)
The online competition lasted five weeks in which users were polled as to which rapper in each round should move on. There were some pretty significant upset in the first few rounds, but all the top seed, Eminem, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, and Lil Wayne survived to the elite 8. However, none would be a match for Eminem who easily dismantled the competition to take the title.
Ok, I like Eminem as much as the next guy, but is he really the best rapper alive? I think that he is the most popular rapper amongst white guys. Yes I said it. It’s not bad enough that a majority of the population is white, but it has also been documented that a majority of the online community is white. So, I can only conclude that a majority of the users who voted are white. It doesn’t even matter that Vibe magazine is known as a black magazine. (BTW, I’m not black)
Here is the thing. I’m not writing this article because of racism. Most of the guys I know have already accepted that fact. What I really want to know is, who really is the best rapper alive? Eminem is a good rapper. I would definitely consider him one of the top five rappers alive, maybe even top three.
The problem I really have is with the competition itself. How can you have a best rapper alive competition and include Soulja Boy Tell’em, Shawty Lo, and Diddy, but not include guys like Rakim, MC Lyte, Chuck D, KRS-One, or Slick Rick. I know I’m a bit older and probably wishing guys from a my generation where to make the list. But if you are going to have a best rapper alive competition, why aren’t these guys on the list. They are definitely alive, as far as I know, and they are certainly better than a majority of the 64 artist on the list. Sometime I wish they would just call it what it is. A popularity contest.
Now that you have your 64 artist, which by the way is actually 65 since they have a play-in bracket, you are suppose to seed the artist and form the bracket. But what is up with some of these first round match-up. I know it’s really hard seeding artist but looking at some of the match-up, I just have to ask myself whether some match-up were predetermined. The bracket looks very suspicious.
For example, match-up like these caused first round upset and assured that six of these artist wouldn’t move on to the next round, even though they all should make the second round.
Lil’ Kim vs. Lauryn Hill
Lupe Fiasco vs. Q-Tip
Mos Def vs. Talib Kweli
Ghostface Killah vs. Raekwon
Method Man vs. Redman
Common vs. Black Thought
All of these guys were just poorly seeded. Come on, the fact that Redman and Method Man were pair against each other as well as Ghostface Killah and Raekwon is suspect, four members of the Wu-Tang Clan and only 2 have to move on to the second. If you look more deeply, you’ll also noticed that most of the female artist were pitted against each other as well, and that Mos Def and Talib Kweli once collaborated together. I’m actually surprise that Andre 3000 wasn’t paired against Big Boi. I like Lupe Fiasco too, but a 3 seed, I think not.
Like I said, I know that forming such a list is difficult and I can’t imagine the pressure that must go into it. But I definitely feel that this competition was whack.
I consider Eminem to be a one of the best rappers in the business. He is passionate, he can freestyle, and he is undeniable one of the greatest storyteller. But I don’t know if he is the best rapper alive.
For more clarification on the competition, pick up the November 2008 issue of Vibe, on newsstand October 21.
EDIT 10/17: Everything makes perfect sense now. I just found out that Eminem is about to release a new album sometime in November and that he has a new book, The Way I Am, which goes on sale this Tuesday. It is too much of a coincident for me. Especially since Eminem hadn’t release a studio album in four years. It really bogges my mind sometimes at the back room dealings that goes on in the entertainment industry. What happen to just having an interview layout or profile articles?
Man, did Penny-Arcade nail it with today’s comic and post. I can’t keep up with this month. Lets see what we have coming out and tell which can be skipped.
Far Cry 2
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
Guitar Hero: World Tour
Gears of War 2
James Bond: Quantum of Solace
Tom Clancy’s EndWar
Wrath of the Lich King
Call of Duty: World at War
Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe
Left 4 Dead
This list doesn’t include Force Unleashed which I haven’t gotten yet, or the two I got already Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood and Rock Band 2. It also skips Little Big Planet and Naruto: Ultimate Sotrm because I don’t have a PS3. Too much good stuff too quickly
And before I begin, I’ll say this now…no, Jules Winfield isn’tnumber one. Start your bally-hoo’ing now, people. I’m also keeping this exclusive to movies written and directed by him SOLELY.
10: Vincent Vega, Pulp Fiction. He meets a nasty end, and yeah, sort of flipped his lid when Mia Wallace OD’s on him, but other than that, he’s almost so cool he’s dead (well, before he gets swiss cheesed). Might be the heroin. Gets extra points for being the main speaker in the infamous “little differences” interchange. Also gets points for challenging Jules on his notion of walking the Earth. “A bum?”
9: Lance, the drug dealer, Pulp Fiction. Not much screen time, but Stoltz puts it to good use. I always get a kick out of his delivery of “Yes, and that’s what I’m going to tell this asshole, right now.” As well as “are you calling me on a cellular phone? I don’t know who this is, I’m hanging up…prank caller! prank caller!” Like Vincent, loses his cool during the Mia OD, but he’s also decididely more with it than Vincent is, he seems more frustrated and annoyed than anything.
Lance, right before he is about to tell this asshole right now.
8: The Bride, Kill Bill. Beyond her stupid real name (I groaned so loud in the theater), the flashbacks with Pei Mei, and when Bill hits her with the truth serum, she is one stone faced pissed off woman. The way she mows down the Crazy 88, how, after being buried alive and escaping still manages to get the best of Elle Driver…winner of the “least likely to be worried about in a dark alley…but you should be” award.
7: Joe Cabot, Reservoir Dogs. The “color name scheme scene.” I rest my case.
6: Ordell Robbie, Jackie Brown. Yeah, he didn’t write the character, but he did cast SLJ to play him, that stands for something. “AK-47. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.” Not a likeable guy, but he pretty much oozes cool.
5: Max Cherry, Jackie Brown. What a pimp for a sad sack. That’s all I’m gonna say.
4: Mr. Blonde/Vic Vega, Reservoir Dogs. Ruthless sociopath, but he does it with style, don’t he? And if it weren’t for Mr. Blonde, Stuck in The Middle With You would not forever be ruined.
3: Jules Winfield, Pulp Fiction. OH MY GOD, YOU PUT JULES THIRD?? Yeah, I did, deal. I know he was the poster boy for cool when Tarantino exploded on the scene with Pulp Fiction, but to be honest, compared to my top two, I feel he’s a bit overrated. He’s still a bad ass Fonzie, but he does lose points for that goofy miracle crap he pulls. He sounds cool when talking about it, but when you actually sit back and think about what he’s saying…not so cool anymore.
2: Winston “The” Wolf, Pulp Fiction. The barometer of cool. When he collars Vincent for sassing him…one of my favorite parts of the film (right below “oh, man, I just shot Marvin in the face!”).
Before our number one, an honorable mention should be given to both Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs and Butch Coolidge from Pulp Fiction. They barely missed my cut, and if I were really gonna put effort, I probably could have three way tied number ten to fit them in.
Bill. The Killed one. The way his character emerges through the two volumes is beautiful. The campfire scene is a god damned dissertation in cool. And from the moment The Bride storms in to his villa to his death, he is nothing but flat out icy chilly cool, talking about their daughters revelation about death, the Superman comparison speech, his explanation as to why he did what he did to The Bride (and you know, every time he stops mid sentence to say “and by the way, letting someone who loves you think you’re dead when you’re not is very cruel” I actually start feeling empathy for the guy). He even takes that walk to his certain death cool.
He even trains his gun on The Bride cool as a cucumber...plus, the gun itself? Cool.
There you have it. Have fun yelling at my choices.