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?