Of the industry legends, few and far between have the success of Eminem. Even if he’s not brought up as one of the all-time greats, there’s no denying his success. He’s one of the best-selling rappers of all time. He holds the current record for fasting selling rap album of all time (The Marshall Mothers LP) at 1.76 million in its first week. With a new album being floated around for 2017, how many artists have enjoyed a career spanning 2 decades of music?
Quick, name me a current hip-hop legend that hasn’t worked with Eminem. He’s collaborated with some of the biggest names in the history of rap. Not only has he kept pace with these stars he often crushes their verses. He’s shined on tracks such as Renegade with Jay-Z, brought in the old school hip-hop heads working with Redman on Off The Wall, and absolutely killed on No Love with Lil Wayne. That’s only three songs of the ever growing arsenal the rapper has collaborated on. Then there’s his verse on Drake’s 4 artist Forever, one of his sickest verses on Tech N9ne’s Speedom, and his ever popular verse on Forgot About Dre. Time after time again, Slim keeps upping the ante and spitting some of the best verses on a track.
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And if you try to challenge his throne? It won’t come easy. Many have tried to slow down the Detroit native. Too many have tried and it proved to be a mistake. Does anyone remember how quickly a beef with Eminem ruins careers? Both Ja Rule and Limp Bizkit were at the height of their stardom when knocking on Eminem’s door. Everlast and Benzino were caught in his crosshairs as well. Other than nostalgia tours, when was the last time you heard anything out of them? After diss tracks like Quitter, Bully, Nail in the Coffin and The Sauce quickly put an end to those beefs quick. It’s as if a whole generation of music downgraded them to VH1’s Behind the Music. In recent memory, I can’t think of anyone in the game who ended careers like that. Even Drake was reported ready to throw his name into a beef. Someone at his label probably talked some common sense into him because his 15 minutes of fame would’ve ended quickly.
Jay-Z is one of the few who’s enjoyed the mainstream success that Eminem has. His popularity has grown to the stature of Big and Pac’s and he’s still turning out hits of his own. Jay broke into the game the same year as Eminem with Reasonable Doubt and is more widely loved in the hip-hop game. While Reasonable Doubt kicked the door down for Jay, Eminem struggled to put out Infinite. With that being said, even with his popularity, the legend still hasn’t caught up to where Eminem is in total sales. I’m sure as he approaches a billion dollars, he might be comfortable in second.
If Eminem isn’t the greatest he’s sure on his way. Songs like Berzerk and Rap God quickly put Shady back on the map. Now Eminem has announced a new album hopefully slated for 2017. He’s climbed towards the top in album sales, become the face of a generation, built an empire, and even found a way to make bleach blonde hair cool, briefly. Like him or not, he’s an icon here to stay. His following is every growing even when his career cools down, and then he reinvents himself. At the age of 43, he shows no sign of slowing down teaching the young acts how it’s done. Argue all you want whether or not he’s the greatest, but you at least have to bring his name up in the conversation.