Eminem Tops BET’s Top 10 Rappers List
When BET first announced that they were gathering a panel of judges to vote on the Top 10 Rappers of the 21st century, hip-hop fans across the nation got excited. BET fans everywhere were casting their own votes via social networks and on the BET website. 25,000 votes and 15 top rappers later, the show aired on Friday, October 15th at 8pm. Many fans seemed disappointed to learn that the list excluded any hip hop greats that released their first album before 1999, automatically disqualifying Jay-Z, notably one of the greatest rappers of our time.
The nine panelists included: Jermaine Dupri (CEO of So So Def), Chuck “Jigsaw” Creemur (allhiphop.com), Boy 1da (Producer), Dj Greg Street (V103, Atlanta), Tony Neal (CEO, Core DJ’s), DJ Timbuck2 (107.5, Chicago), Chloe Hilliard (Vibe Magazine), DJ Vlad (VladTV.com) and Philly’s own favorite female Dj, DJ Diamond Kuts (Power 99FM, BET). Big Tigger led the debate as the “Chief Justice” and the jury went hard for a full hour. In addition to the criteria that it had to be a solo artist who released his/her 1st album in 1999 or after, the criteria also included: flow, lyricism, subject range, cultural impact, sales and digital swag (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Youtube, their own website, etc.).
The list was finally narrowed from 15 to 10. The beauty of the debate was that each panelist got to create their own Top 10 list. So, as name after name was thrown on the table, legitimate arguments followed as to why each rapper earned the “spot” they received. It seems the bottom of the list, the bottom five rappers, were voted upon somewhat gracefully. So although debates rang out, nothing sparked a fire under the voting pads like the top five rappers. There was constant back and forth as the panel played tug of war with Ludacris and Drake. Then they debated again with 50 Cent and T.I. But it was obvious that after the numbers four, five and six were picked, who would take the top three slots.
And then there were three: Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne and Eminem. Then Kanye West took the #3 slot, placing Eminem and Lil’ Wayne up against each other. But it didn’t take long for the jury or anyone else to decide when it came to the number #1 spot. As tough as it seems, both Eminem and Lil’ Wayne have touched on controversial and relevant topics (subject range); they both have a significant impact on today’s culture (cultural impact), especially the young adult culture; their flows are distinct, nobody in the industry can match them; lyrically speaking, they’ve both been known to use metaphors better than any English teacher hands down; the fans of both rappers have made them large on social networks everywhere and their hits with videos and record plays are phenomenal; lastly, album sales for both include high numbers that even their favorite rappers wish they had. But Eminem had more album sales than Lil’ Wayne with 35.4 million records sold in the United States.
I would hate to believe that’s the only thing that caused Eminem to take the number one spot. If you take a close look at both rappers careers, although Lil’ Wayne has grown the most during the 21st century, Eminem has managed to spew lyrics to one of the largest, diverse crowds at any arena he performs at. Eminem makes people listen. His absence from the music industry creates a space in hip hop that awaits only his return. He’s the only rapper I can think of that can go away on a four year hiatus, return and still drop an album that people will buy with only one single on the radio. Okay, maybe two. And then, there’s the Oscar, the 11 Grammys (three of which he won for his first three LP’s back to back for Best Rap Album, making him the first rap artist to do so) and the 80 million records sold worldwide, making him one of the world’s best selling artist. And this leads me to the second part of this article.
Last Sunday, October 10th, 60 Minutes aired an exclusive interview with Eminem and Anderson Cooper. Missing the interview meant that you missed an opportunity to get to know a little more about the man named Marshall Mathers. The overdose that nearly killed him, the choice he made to stay in the rap game and why and even Eminem smiling, seeming more peaceful than he’d been in the years we’ve gotten to know him. The way he puts his raps together is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Pieces and pieces of paper with words the size of ants all over his home studio. But what we get from the heaps of paper that look like trash is some of Eminem’s greatest treasures; treasures that we’ve come to cherish since the release of his 1999 LP, The Real Slim Shady.
People who don’t like him are generally those who’ve chosen to hear just parts of the songs played by the media when Eminem gets placed under the microscope. It amazes me that although his music showcases cursing, what seems to be a hatred for homosexuals and disrespectful lyrics toward those who have hurt him in his past (mainly his mother), we continue to make Eminem the bad guy of hip hop. Yet, we continue to listen and praise the lyrics of African American hip hop artists who degrade women, talk constantly of flashy jewelry they rock, big houses and cars they have and all the other material objectives that are minimal to the big scope of things affecting everyday culture.
The beautiful thing about Eminem, he has some of the greatest, conscious, believable lyrics of any artist out today. Hip Hop is about being able to relate to the people of any culture, touching on issues that are relevant, even if they are controversial and still staying true to oneself. If Eminem hasn’t done that better than any artist during the 21st century, then maybe we aren’t looking past the color scheme as we should be when judging hip hop greats.
To see the complete Top 10 List, visit: http://www.bet.com/OnTV/BETShows/top10rappers/top10rappers_rappers.htm
To learn more about EMINEM or to purchase his music: www.eminem.com