Lil Wanye and Eminem have solidified their legacies as rap legends amongst some of the best in Hip-Hop, while still holding a sliver of relevancy in today’s game. But, I’ve been pondering about their career paths and how Wayne has been exempt from the criticism that Em faces today, despite them both falling from grace years ago.
This isn’t to knock either’s music at this point in time, if you’re still a fan of their latest projects kudos to you. However I feel that their music peaked towards the late 2000’s and despite some signs of greatness sprinkled here and there, they cannot consistently attain what made them great.
And therein lies my debate for their careers: both artists are no longer excelling, however Eminem’s career is the only one that faces “out of touch” criticism.
Musically, Em was relatively quiet until Trump took to office and he began to speak out about him in cyphers. Since then, he’s released two albums and been featured on a few verses. Conversely, Wayne’s silence was forced by the hand of the law when he decided to sue his Birdman and was unable to release his long awaited album Tha Carter V, until last year. However, he stayed active on the mixtape scene and garnered a number of features from artists.
Em’s first release post-Trump election, Revival, was not well received on the music front and was deemed out of touch. His follow up, Kamikaze, was musically recognized but with the drama surrounding his career at the time, it couldn’t maintain it’s foothold in today’s game.
Similarly, Wayne’s long awaited Carter V dropped and while there was a mostly positive reception of the album, the music was clearly dated and the sheer amount of songs was too long. I feel the success of both their albums can be attributed to fans listening in hopes of confirming that either artist still has “it”.
I don’t think anyone really listens to either project today, and I would bet a bag that only one or two songs from each album is still in rotation.
Photo via: Zimbio.com (Getty Images)
One of Em’s major criticisms is that he’s oblivious to his perception as a rapper in today’s game. As rap fans, we all know that he can rap and his legacy is solidified, but he seems hell bent on doubling down on the idea that he has to prove he’s a master rapper. The ramifications of that cluelessness equate to dull music that is focused solely on how outlandish his rhyme schemes can get.
Moreover, Em continues to bash the younger generation of artists rather than finding ones he likes and mentoring them to the game. He’s essentially the grumpy old man in rap and his criticism is warranted.
But even though Wayne exhibits a lot of the same characteristics, he’s managed to avoid the same criticism that Em faces. Maybe it’s because Wayne appears to be more ingrained in the culture than Em is; he still looks young and exhibits young behaviours, despite the fact he’s not and he doesn’t seem fond of new artists.
Wayne used to touch on a variety of topics within his songs, and at times he still does, but he’s often been relegated to the standard “p—y, money, weed” topics lately without much introspection on what he’s currently going through.
Gone are the days where Wayne would talk about being a father, or what aspirations he has for the future and his kids, or even his current moves today in other areas of his life.
His content is all surface material and he’s at a point where he just seems to mimic the guys who drew inspiration from him. Em also falls into this category too, but we never claim Wayne to be clueless when he continually shows us that he doesn’t know about the social climate we’re in with comments like this.
Neither artist displays any growth in their songs and seem just fine with clinging on to what they THINK fans want from them, but they overdose on their delivery of that “rapping for rap sake” image.
When I heard Wayne on 2 Chainz’s album there wasn’t anything special about his verse, it was his typical rhyme scheme and more often than not, a Wayne feature today is just “there” to market a song.
The greatest example I could give of how to gracefully age in Hip-Hop would be Jay Z. I think Wayne and Em should look to him as the model for how they should evolve their careers by being more direct with fans. Because if they choose to continue on this path, their legacies will begin to look shaky in the light.
Featured image via: Genius.com forums