Last Friday, Eminem released his surprise album, Kamikaze, using it to air out his grievances with critical journalists and upstart young rappers. Before the weekend was out, one of those rappers, Cleveland, Ohio’s Machine Gun Kelly — better known as MGK — defied expectations to write and release a response in record time. The track, “Rap Devil,” plays on Eminem’s “Rap God” to frame MGK as a “younger, better” version of Em, slinging darts to pay back the elder MC for his jabs on Kamikaze. It seems just releasing the track wasn’t enough for MGK; only a day later, he’s already released a simple video for the track, which you can watch above.
While any number of young up-and-coming rappers may have their complaints about their onetime idol, Eminem, from some of the lyrics on “Rap Devil,” MGK has more reasons to be both disappointed and angry at Em’s actions. Aside from the standard old man jokes that follow a young rapper dissing and older competitor and an opening salvo commenting on the strangeness of Eminem’s beard, MGK also claims Em had him blackballed, perceiving MGK as a threat to Em’s dominance in the “white guy” rap lane. “Let’s talk about the fact you actually blackballed a rapper that’s twice as young as you,” MGK rants, “Let’s call Sway, ask why I can’t go on Shade 45 because of you / Let’s ask Interscope how you had Paul Rosenberg trying to shelf me.”
While fans eagerly await a possible response from Slim Shady himself, it’s worth pondering if the living legend did actively sabotage the career of an up-and-coming potential rival. He wouldn’t be the first and he probably won’t be the last, but it’s been the kind of year where it’s clear a generational shake-up is coming for mainstream rap — and likely sooner than later.