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Rap Devil vs Killshot: Who won?

Abdullah Hussain takes a look at a recent feud in the rap world, and the quality of the diss tracks it's given us

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Image: Stefan Brending

The battle between American rappers Machine Gun Kelly and Eminem is here, and it's given us some spicy bars. This seemingly overnight rivalry has surprisingly deep roots, starting all the way back in 2012 when MGK commented on Eminem's daughter as be-ing "hot as fuck". Eminem finally replied in his latest album Kamikaze, sparking off the exchange of tracks - 'Rap Devil' by MGK and then 'Killshot' by Eminem. The real question is: who won?

The answer is something that is going to annoy someone either way, claims of one having the better bars over the other are going to be inevitable. But to objec- tively stake out a winner is simple: break it down into factors. The first is obvious - lyrics. But we also have to look at how many 'disses' were thrown as well, and how impactful they were, not just whose track was better.

Image: E J Hersom

Generally, speaking, Eminem is among rap gods - pun intended - when it comes to lyrically dissing someone. 'Killshot' does not disappoint as it is filled to the brim with constant rhythmic pattern shifts keeping the audience on the edge. Some of the bars in this track were comedic genius, when he used his persona as Slim Shady to claim he's going to be always bigger than MGK "Cause he knows, long as I'm shady he's gon' have to live in my shadow". But they can also be haunting as well like when Eminem raps "Had to give you a career to destroy it". But MGK is no slouch holding his own against what is arguably the best battle rapper ever. His line referencing Oscar award winning movie 8 Mile starring Emi- nem was particularly an entertaining line "We know you get nervous, Rabbit/ I see Momma's spaghetti all over your sweater". Even, so MGK had no chance, this is Eminem we are talking about here: a rapper practically designed for dissing others. So, round one goes to Slim Shady.

A rap 'beef' is not all about who won the rap battle, there's also the wider reaction from both the people watching and rappers themselves. 'Killshot' debuted as one of the biggest debut singles ever. Eminem set a new YouTube record with his track earning more views in 24 hours than another rap track ever.

On the other hand, you had the reactions to MGK, which were fairly mixed. The best example being the Fallout Boy incident in which reports of both cheers and boos came out after MGK per- formed his track 'Rap Devil' and wearing a shirt boasting the 'Killshot' cover art. But, that's the raw influence of Eminem, he objectively one of the biggest rappers ever. The scale of the difference between MGK career and Eminem's is not even comparable. One is a genre defying artist who has changed and altered the face of white rap forever, the other is MGK.

However, it is MGK who has won this battle. It wasn't his lyrical wit in the rap battle, nor his immediate reaction. Instead, his vic- tory comes from his break into the mainstream once again.

MGK is not a big name, but he is becoming one with this new exchange between himself and Eminem. Not saying that MGK was not a star beforehand, with tracks breaking into the billboards top 10 in the past. But he is being talked about like a household name now, because of this exchange with Eminem. Whatever way you view it, MGK got some major clout from this exchange.

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