Hip-hop Media training

Best Rapper Alive Competition Feels Slim Shady

Hip-Hop Media Training

If you feel like there's a pun in the headline of this blog post, good.

Last week Vibe magazine announced that Eminem had won its Best Rapper Alive competition, a NCAA-style tournament that pitted the "top" 64 MCs against each other. (See the list of the 64 nominees.)

The online contest polled users over a 5-week period. During the first week, the 64 competing rappers were paired off and users were asked to select the best 32 artists. The second week, that group of 32 lyricists was also grouped in twos and the voters picked their favorite 16. Over the subsequent weeks, the list dwindled down to the last b-boys standing, Jay-Z and Eminem. Eminem won by a landslide of 69 percent, compared to Jay-Z's 31 percent.

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The results have sparked heated discussions.

Before getting into my opinion of the crowned champ, I am way curious as to how a Best Rapper Alive contest can include the likes of Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, Shawty Lo and Flo Rida, but not list lyrical geniuses Rakim, MC Lyte, Chuck D, KRS-One or Slick Rick. I'm 38, so yes, I'm repping a different era. But if I am to take the title Best Rapper Alive literally, I say, these guys are alive and frankly can still put to shame the majority of the 64 artists who have made it on the ballot. Maybe instead they could call this list, Best Rapper To Recently Release An Album.

I'm sure some of my questions will be answered in the November 2008 issue of Vibe, on newsstands October 21. In this issue, the Best Rapper Alive staff will explain the contest in detail. I must add that I respect the publication, still having in my possession its 1994 premiere issue with Treach of Naughty By Nature on the cover and having written freelance articles for the magazine from 2000 to 2006. I just don't get the criteria.

I understand that the results were driven by the voters, but the brackets used for voting are suspicious. Take for example the following pairings that caused upsets during the first round of voting:

Lil' Kim vs. Lauryn Hill
Lupe Fiasco vs. Q-Tip
Mos Def vs. Talib Qweli
Ghostface Killah vs. Raekwon
Method Man vs. Redman
Common vs. Black Thought

Pairings like these assured that six of the aforementioned rappers were not going to make it to round two. Each of those artists should have made it to the second round. And in other instances, favored artists were matched with MCs who had no chance of winning the first round:

Andre 3000 vs. Dizzee Rascal
Eminem vs. Soulja Boy
Lil' Wayne vs. Trina
T.I. vs. Shawty Lo
Ludacris vs. Young Dro

Are you kidding? I think Dizzee Rascal is dope, but could he possibly get more popular votes than ANDRE 3000? Have the majority of the voters even heard of Dizzee? Soulja Boy, Trina, Shawty Lo, and Young Dro against those guys? Is this poll even real?

Out of 32 pairings, the first round only had a handful of legitimate groupings:

Cam'ron vs. Juelz Santana
Fabolous vs. Cassidy
Lil' Boosie vs. Webbie
Lloyd Banks vs. Young Buck
Chamillionaire vs. Paul Wall

I realize the difficulty and pressure that lies in compiling lists. As a journalist, it's something that you don't take lightly because you know you're going to get called out if your list is wack. I'm feeling bamboozled by this one.

I consider Eminem to be one of the greatest MCs to have ever rhymed. He has an undeniable gift of storytelling. He can freestyle. He's passionate, and is one of the few who is blessed with the ability to simultaneously go straight mega pop and still reach the heads. He's top 10 without question.

I'm in one of those moods and can go and on about this as if it was something important. So I'll stop and let some of my favorites conclude my argument. Check out their videos.

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