Why Eminem is the Best Rapper of All Time

Blasphemous apples smack asses happily at the Axis Masters, laughing their clap holes passively while mapping out traps for massive batteries.

How about that for assonance? (Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds.) Eminem is really good at using assonance. Asssssssonance. A lot of people won’t question you when you say Eminem is the best rapper of all time, but I don’t think most people understand why he’s the best rapper of all time.

Rap has multiple dimensions including rhythm, beat, flow, and voice, but without words it all falls apart entirely. What makes rap interesting and dynamic is how it’s carried by lyrics. A lot of genres are musically based and the lyrics add an important but secondary layer to that, but rap is built on words. Beats are important, but the best rap songs have the best lyrics.

What’s frustrating about modern rap is the beats are often so sick that the lyrics fall by the wayside. They get you with the rhythm of the song the first few times you listen, but it quickly goes stale because without dynamic lyrics the song maintains no depth and becomes boring.

Back to Eminem, the lyrical miracle worker. Let’s use a good old-fashioned example, folks. Nothing like a good show and tell to get your titties pointed in the right direction.

For the full effect please open up Spotify or Apple Music or Napster or whatever you use for music and start up “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” by Eminem and fast-forward that son’bitch up on out to 2:33 and sing with me kids:

I don’t want to quit
But shit, I feel like this is it
For me to have this much appeal like this is sick
This is not a game, this fame, in real life this is sick
“Publicity stunt” my ass, “conceal” my fucking dick
Fuck the guns, I’m done, I’ll never look at gats
If I scrap, I’ll scrap like I ain’t never whipped some ass
I love my fans, but no one ever puts a grasp on the fact
I’ve sacrificed everything I have
I never dreamt I’d get to the level that I’m at
This is wack, this is more than I ever coulda asked
Everywhere I go, a hat, a sweater hood or mask
What about math? How come I wasn’t never good at that
It’s like the boy in a bubble, who never could adapt, I’m trapped
If I could go back, I never would of rapped
I sold my soul to the devil, I’ll never get it back
I just want to leave this game with level head intact
Imagine going from being a no-one to seein’ everything blow up
And all you did was just grow up emceein’
It’s fucking crazy, ’cause all I wanted was to give Hailie the life I never had
Instead I’ve forced us to live alienated, so I’m saying

Alriggghhhttyyyyyyy class is in session. I never know where this blog is going but apparently today I’m turning into a poetry professor. But hey, this is what I studied in college so even if I end up sounding like a pompous ass at least I’m qualified.

I started off by talking about assonance, so this is a great example of how Eminem uses the repletion of similar vowel sounds. I’ve put the repetition of the A as in “apple” sound in upper case so we can see how it’s used.

If I scrAp, I’ll scrAp like I ain’t never whipped some Ass
I love my fans, but no one ever puts a grAsp on the fAct
I’ve sAcrificed everything I hAve
I never dreamt I’d get to the level that I’m At
This is wAck, this is more than I ever coulda Asked
Everywhere I go, a hAt, a sweater hood or mAsk
What about mAth? How come I wasn’t never good At that

Most rappers primarily use perfect end rhymes to guide their lyrics, meaning they rhyme a word at the end of a line with another word that has the exact same ending. For example:

I went to bed

with a piece of lead.

I don’t know why you would ever go to bed with a piece of lead but that’s the example we’re going with. Unless that’s what you call your girlfriend, which in that case I don’t think you’ll be together long because no woman wants her nick name to be “piece of lead.”

“Boy I got stuck with a real piece of lead last night.”

“Haven’t you been dating your girlfriend for five years?”



Anyways, most rappers are one-trick ponies who are riding their perfect end-rhymes to anywhere from nowhere to the top of the charts. A lot of times they’ll even rhyme a word with the same word, but don’t get me started on that. There’s a difference between using repetition and being lazy with your lyrics, but I digress.

You’ll notice in the previous example that Eminem is using near rhymes, which are rhymes that don’t end with the exact same sound but are close. For example, you might use a near end rhyme to say:

I like to run track

and that’s a fact.

“Track” and “fact” aren’t perfect rhymes but they’re very close, making them near rhymes. So, what makes Eminem’s lyrics so interesting are how he uses sound in different ways besides the typical perfect end-rhyme. Take a gander here when he raps:

I love my fans, but no one ever puts a grAsp on the fAct
I’ve sAcrificed everything I hAve

We’ve got the assonance, using that A sound four times. We’ve got the near rhyme with “fact” and “have.” We also have an inside near rhyme with “grasp” and “fact.” An inside rhyme is when two words rhyme within the same line rather than at the end of consecutive lines. Eminem is phenomenal at this.

Check this shit out:

Imagine going from being a no-one to seein’ everything blow up
And all you did was just grow up emceein’

So he rhymes “going” “no-one” and “blow up” on the same line, and then he rhymes “being” and “seein” on the same line and “emceein” on the next line but “being” and “seein” are in the middle of the first line while “emceein” is at the end of the second line.

There’s a lot going on that misses the naked eye here and reading that last sentence I wrote will send your head into a tailspin, but the point is that Eminem has used sound and words in a way that hasn’t been rivaled in the rap game coupled with raw emotion and top-shelf production value. I could dig through his lyrics with a fine-tooth comb, which… dammit now I have to go through that verse in “White America.” This one is wild. Pull up “White America” and go to 3:24 to follow along.

That’s why they put my lyrics up under this microscope
Searchin’ wit a fine toothed comb
Its like this rope waitin’ to choke tightenin’ around my throat
Watchin’ me while I write this like
‘I dont like this, no’
All I hear is lyrics, lyrics constant controversy
Sponsors workin’ round the clock
To try to stop my concerts early

Surely ‘Hip Hop’ is never a problem in Harlem only in Boston
After it bothered ya fathers of daughters startin’ to blossom
Now I’m catchin’ the flack from these activists

I could nerd out on the words of this verse until you think I’m the worst, but I’ll let you explore for yourselves. It’s like an Easter egg hunt but for sound. We’re all gonna find something here. Anyways, that’s why Eminem is the best rapper of all time.

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Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian living in Austin, Texas. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.


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