Man, as much as I’ve criticized Eminem for not getting with the times, I feel like I should apologize now. As it turns out, Em’s regressive positions are nothing compared to his longtime foe Benzino’s. The Boston rap totem could certainly be accused of living in the past, as he’s the only one holding onto the massive L Eminem handed him back in the noughties. The latest example of his sour grapes attitude toward basically everything about modern-day hip-hop is his reaction to Eminem’s recent induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
In a new string of tweets, Benzino claimed that the Rock Hall has “no respect for our culture” after including Eminem. Posting a screenshot of a recent tweet from Rolling Stone, he also wondered “Where’s Nas, Eric B and RAKIM, Kool Moe D, Epmd, Fearless Four, Fat Boyz [sic], Lauren Hill [sic], Little Kim[sic], OutKast and 100s other Black rappers?”
Rock and roll hall of fame is just like the Grammy’s, they have no respect for our culture, Black or Hip Hop and if you don’t agree, you’re racist, period point blank.
— Benzino (@IAMBENZINO) May 4, 2022
So where’s Nas, Eric B and RAKIM, Kool Moe D, Epmd, Fearless Four, Fat Boyz, Lauren Hill, Little Kim, OutKast and 100s other Black rappers?? GTFOH pic.twitter.com/KGBI8KZV5X
— Benzino (@IAMBENZINO) May 4, 2022
So, there are a couple of things happening here. One: Benzino, who used to “run” The Source, needs that edit button as much as anybody on Twitter. Two: While he makes a valid point in the second tweet, he’s gotta understand that he’s probably the last person who should be making it, since his position in this argument is tainted from the jump. Again, he’s had a longstanding, mostly one-sided vendetta against Eminem since before he was ousted at The Source, then got smoked in a rap battle against the Detroit MC by unanimous public opinion. This ain’t for him.
However, there is some truth to what he’s pointed out. That the Rock Hall chose to nominate and so thoroughly vote in Eminem before so many pioneers of the art form reeks of outsiders’ voyeurism, appropriation, and shallow understanding of the music and culture. It definitely looks very cockeyed in the context of, well, everything about America, but particularly this country’s prickly disposition toward Black folks and our creative contributions to mainstream pop culture.
But there’s no denying that Eminem’s had a huge impact since making his debut in 1998, selling more records than almost anybody else in the genre, redefining rap skills in the mainstream, and introducing practically an entire generation (of suburban white kids) to hip-hop, opening the door for successors like Jack Harlow, who recently had the No. 1 single in the country. Em was also an inspiration for big-name genre leaders like Kendrick Lamar and Tyler The Creator, which can’t be discounted. His run of mainstream relevancy has been much longer than influences like Rakim (sorry, it’s true), and the fact is, his next album will probably also go No. 1, no matter what critics say about his increasing creative stagnation.
Yeah, he probably got to have an advantage due to being white, but … This is America. If anything, that remains an indictment of the broader culture of excluding, ignoring, or erasing Black Americans’ contributions (to say nothing of Asian, Latino, or Indigenous ones). At least, now we’ve gotten him out of the way, opening the door to start recognizing rap’s real pioneers. Plus, there’s a Hip-Hop Hall Of Fame coming at some point, which will at least make up for some of the oversights by allowing the culture to recognize its own, without asking a bunch of guitar snobs to validate them.