Legends of Hip-Hop like Kool DJ Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash. Old School, you say? Hell, these three are the founding fathers of hip-hop music—the progenitors of the world’s dominant youth culture. For them, hip-hop is not a record, a concert, a style of dress or a slang phrase. It is the constancy of their lives. It defines their past and affects their view of the future. As DJs in the ’70s, these three brothers were the nucleus of hip-hop—finding the records, defining the trends, and rocking massive crowds at outdoor and indoor jams in parts of the Bronx and Harlem.
Here are listed top 10 lists in various categories of Best Hip Hop Music: Bass, Christian Rap, East Coast, Experimental Rap, Gangsta & Hardcore, International Rap, Latin Rap, Old School, Pop Rap, Southern Rap, West Coast, and more.
Where Did Eminem’s Anger Come From?
He was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III. He is best known to the public by his stage name, Eminem. In many of his songs and videos, he plays the role of Slim Shady. The combination has been powerful and successful. The mix of Marshall Mathers the man, Eminem the rapper, and Slim Shady the evil alter ego, has captivated and intrigued audiences worldwide. Eminem is one of the world’s most popular rap artists. Between 1999 and 2006, he sold more than 73,000,000 albums worldwide. He is one of the top-selling rappers of all time, second only to the late Tupac Shakur. (Interestingly, Eminem produced Tupac’s album Loyal to the Game. It is the eighth album of remixes and previously unreleased material to be released since Tupac’s murder in 1996.)
Although he is an artist who does not stick to the tried-and-true methods but rather strikes out on his own into wildly original territory, Eminem has been able to achieve both popular acclaim and critical success. His broad appeal is undeniable, and his popularity with his fans is matched only by the praise he has received from critics and fellow musicians. Eminem has won nine Grammy Awards, which are considered the music industry’s highest honor, and nine MTV Video Awards. He has even won an Academy Award.
Eminem’s importance as a hip-hop artist cannot be overstated. To many critics, he is as important to rap music as Elvis Presley was to rock and roll.
Elvis Presley burst into America’s consciousness in 1956 with his first big hit, “Heartbreak Hotel.” In it he combined several different kinds of traditional American music. He combined rhythm and blues (R&B) music, which was traditionally enjoyed by blacks, with country and western music, which was traditionally listened to by whites. What emerged from the mix was rock and roll. This new music appealed to both fans of R&B and fans of country. By blending different types of music, Elvis helped break down music’s cultural boundaries.
The two musicians also share a similar background: Elvis grew up poor, listening to rhythm and blues music. Eminem grew up poor, listening to rap or hip-hop, known at the time as music for black urban youth. Like Elvis, he creates music that respects musical traditions, and brings different audiences together through music. Also like Elvis, Eminem has been accused of “using” or exploiting black music to get rich. As Eminem jokingly raps in “Without Me” from the CD The Eminem Show, “Though I’m not the first king of controversy/I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley, to do Black Music so selfishly/and use it to get myself wealthy.”
Eminem has created hip-hop that transcends, or goes beyond, the lines that divide black and white music. Fans of hip-hop admire him for his strong lyrical talents. He is praised for his ability to change his flow and style within a song without losing a beat. His rhyme sense, use of language, and humor all make him preeminent among today’s hip-hop artists. A track by Eminem stands out. He sounds like nobody else.
It is more than his rap style that sets him apart from other rappers. His choice of subject matter helps to distinguish him. Before Eminem came on the scene, gangsta rap was the dominant style of rap. When it first emerged in the early 1980s, gangsta rap covered topics like alienation, drugs, and being poor. Rappers spoke to their audience about the struggle against police and other authority figures. After the violent deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., however, the music changed. Suddenly, the violence in gangsta rap lyrics felt a little too “real.” In addition, as the rappers became successful, they moved away from the lifestyle that generated their lyrics in the first place. Gangsta rap moved from songs about life on the streets to music about life at the top. Songs about “bling,” women, and the power of money to buy anything ruled the charts. The music moved from documenting the struggles of the poor to celebrating the joys of being rich. Lyrics glorified a life of conspicuous consumption, a life of wearing clothes by Prada and guzzling Kristal champagne.
Eminem’s music and life reject the glorification of money and its rewards. Writing largely about his own experiences, Eminem is able to discuss topics that many people can relate to. He writes about drug abuse. He writes about his mother and his troubled childhood. He writes about his ongoing relationship with his ex-wife Kim Mathers. He writes about growing up poor in Detroit. He writes about being white and living in a black neighborhood. He writes about his love for his daughter, Hailie.