Eminem and MGK Beef

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This month, Hip-Hop has given us some interesting events. Eminem and MGK (Machine Gun Kelly), went at each other with diss tracks, satiating everyone’s need to see someone fall into Eminem’s crosshairs - something which hasn’t happened for well over a decade.

I feel that time will tell if Eminem’s attack of MGK was as blistering as people seem to think it was, or if it more reflects a man past his prime, tired and annoyed by challenges. But more on that later.

Below is a simple timeline of the beef.

As with most beef, it transcends mere lyrics. Most people pinpointed the origin of the conflict to a tweet of MGK’s from 2012 in which he said that Eminem’s daughter, who was a minor at the time, was hot. However, the first lyrical manifestation of any enmity between the two rappers appears in a song MGK did with Tech N9ne, called ‘No Reason.’

In it, MGK doesn’t mention Eminem by name, but does reference ‘Rap God’ (an Eminem song), disparagingly.

Eminem fired back at the beginning of the month on his surprise album, Kamikaze, with an entire diss song devoted to MGK, called ‘Not Alike.’

While Eminem’s whole album basically feels like an excuse to settle old scores with people who have offered him everything from mild to harsh criticism, and to make up for his politically charged sob story of an Album from last year, Revival, this song in particular is the strangest of all his clapbacks to date, in my opinion. In it, he criticizes MGK for not really being a gangster, for not really catching bodies, and, as seems obligatory for diss songs of Eminem’s era, for proverbially sucking dick.

My problem with this is that there are far more harsh criticisms he could have delivered to MGK. Calling him a fake gangster seems inept, as MGK doesn’t strike me as someone who necessarily claims to be one. A bad boy, sure, but not a gangster. People used to love Eminem’s diss tracks from the beginning of his career because he used to criticize his contemporaries and people who had been around before him. MGK is his successor by more than a few years. Here, Eminem doesn’t actually seem to know all that much about him. All in all, I thought Eminem’s initial non-subliminal diss was weak.

A few days later, MGK fired back with ‘Rap Devil.’

Considering that it’s a dig at one of the most lyrically feared MC’s in all of rap, this song struck me as a pretty bold effort and of far higher quality than Eminem’s initial diss. MGK has the advantage here of knowing far more about Eminem than Eminem does about him, but that is sort of Eminem’s fault. For whatever the song is worth, it does have the feel of a classic diss song and will probably be remembered in the history of Hip-Hop feuds. It’s not especially nasty or relentless, but it’s far more cutting than anything anyone has said about Eminem, just shy of speaking badly about his daughter (Ja Rule).

I do have a suspicion that MGK had most of the lines thought out or written before Eminem ever wrote a diss track about him, and then just updated it.

Two weeks later, after the world waited with rapt attention to Eminem’s career, he finally put out Killshot.

My initial prejudice told me that this track was a deep burn and destroyed MGK. But after listening to it a few times, I thought to myself that there were only a few real cutting lines. He makes light of the fact that MGK said he was a better dresser: ‘You dress better/ I rap better.’ There’s also the obvious fact that Eminem is a legend no one can erase: ‘As long as I’m shady, you’ll always live in my shadow.’

But aside from that, he has lines which would have hurt more had they been about someone else: ‘I had to give you a career to destroy it.’ Oooooooh! Except … MGK didn’t build his career on dissing Eminem (even if it has gotten bigger in the past few weeks because of it). He’s actually been involved with pretty big names since the beginning and is now acting. Eminem didn’t do much there.

Also, Eminem wastes time making fun of his man-bun and his bleached hair. In a song that’s less than four minutes, I don’t want to hear this, nor do I want to hear Eminem waste time talking about how successful he was in other beefs against Benzino and Ja Rule (I’m not convinced that Eminem actually had much to do with ending Ja Rule’s career. Ja Rule also had 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Game, Busta Rhymes, G-Unit and D-12 trying to end his career too).

Killshot, to me, came off like a track Eminem just couldn’t be bothered to put too much effort or thought into.

Eminem’s general attitude was confirmed for me by how he came off in his interview with Sway. When asked about MGK, he just seemed irritated that he should have to spar with a rapper that much younger or newer than him.

However, at MGK’s visit to The Breakfast club, he painted a very different picture of how the whole thing went. He wasn’t at all impressed with Killshot and claimed to have something in the works until he heard it, after which point he didn’t even feel it was necessary to respond.

In the end, I tend to feel that, for how high profile this feud has been, it really is quite boring. While I commend MGK for not hesitating to respond to Eminem, their disses were ultimately on par with one another. Eminem got the response he deserved and so did MGK. They made fun of one another’s clothes, looks, and seemed to thoroughly misunderstand one another. MGK feels like he won, which is good for him, I guess. Eminem has a rabid fan base who would never admit that Eminem lost even if he did (I’m not sure who ‘won,’ as there’s no real objective way to tell in a Hip-Hop feud. Historically, having the last word is not even necessarily an indication that someone has won. Lots of rappers refuse to respond if they feel the song is whack). Personally, I thought MGK’s verse in ‘No Reason’ was bullshit. Eminem’s response, ‘Not Alike,’ was also bullshit. ‘Rap Devil’ was just okay and ‘Killshot’ was just okay. I can’t say I enjoyed one more than the other, though if we were to go off of pure objectivity, as I said before, ‘Rap Devil’ seems to cover more factual territory, whereas ‘Killshot’ doesn’t even seem like it’s an MGK diss. There were some okay moments in this feud, but it was boring to think about any longer than when it was actually occurring in the moment.

Drake vs. Pusha T a few months ago was, in my mind, a much more interesting feud and a much longer time coming, with a far more satisfying outcome.