Unless you live under a rock, or you’re not a fan of hip-hop, you’re aware of the well-publicized battle between the Rap God, Eminem, and the Rap Devil, Machine Gun Kelly. For all students of the game, the past week has been an absolute dream. It’s not that there has not been “beef” in hip-hop over the past few years. We’ve even had feuds in the past year; see the beef between Drake and Pusha T. It’s just that we have not seen a beef of this magnitude in some years. Here we have the teacher versus the student. The master versus the padawan. Feuds like this we haven’t seen since, well, when Eminem ended the careers of Ja Rule and Benzino.
First, let’s give credit where credit is due. Machine Gun Kelly went after Eminem as few have before. It’s not my place to say whether he believes he is better than Slim Shady. If MGK does not believe he’s better than Em, then it took bravery that most MC’s don’t have to step up to the plate. As we will see below, however, Kelly was not rewarded for his bravery. With the dueling diss tracks of Killshot versus Rap Devil, Killshot is the clear winner. Eminem shows that he still is the undisputed greatest rapper alive, and he stands head and shoulders above MGK.
Now, we will look at the top ten lines from Eminem’s “Killshot”. Considering that everyone line deserves its own breakdown, we will designate a single line as the “kill shot”. The nine lines that follow are not in any order. They’re just the ones appreciated most.
To me, this is the undisputed kill shot of the song. The line that makes you get up out of your seat, call your boys (or girls)and replay the line several times. The line is an assault against the success of MGK. It takes a true legend to deliver that legendary line and have it reach its full potential. So, just how effective is the line delivered by a legend like Eminem? Per Shady Records, including his work with D12 and Bad Meets Evil, Slim Shady has sold over 100 million albums worldwide, which includes ten number one albums on the Billboard 200. How does MGK stack up? To be honest, I don’t know. I Googled for a solid ten minutes and I could not find his numbers. Best I could do is an album-to-album comparison of both artists’ most recent work.
Kelly’s last album, General Admission, sold 56,000 album-equivalent copies in its first week. Mather’s last album, Kamikaze, sold 434,000 album-equivalent copies in its first week. There is a chasm between the two. Out of curiosity, I compared General Admission to Eminem’s Relapse, which is widely considered as his worst album. Relapse sold 608,000 in its first week. In short, even at his best, MGK cannot top Eminem’s worst effort. So, really, Em did have to give Kelly a career to destroy it.
This line here is special because it reminds me of the days of the Marshall Mathers LP. It’s a simple line, but it punches well above its weight. Kelly, who in Rap Devil disses Em over his style, has been rocking a man bun. He cannot deny that. For sure, the times are different, but a man bun? You simply cannot call someone else out on their gangster credentials when you have a man bun. You just can’t. It reminded me of “Marshall Mathers” off Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP when he said (in reference to the Insane Clown Posse), “And I don’t need help from D12/To beat up two females/ In makeup when they try and scratch me with Lee Nails.” It was just a subtle attack against Kelly’s appearance, but it leaves its mark and it cut deep.
This line is a play off of the proverbial kill shot and precedesit. To give it more context, one has to go back to what MGK said about Eminem in Rap Devil. In the first verse of the song, Kelly states, “You’re sober and bored, huh? (I know)/About to be 46 years old, dog.” Again, giving credit where credit is due, it was a nice diss by Kells, but Slim’s rebuttal hit harder. As already stated, MGK has not had anywhere near the success of Marshall. In his last release, Machine Gun Kelly, barely sold 10 percent of what Eminem’s Kamikaze did and that album wasn’t promoted. Sorry, Kelly, but going at Em on that level was a mistake.
Again, we have to venture back to Rap Devil to understand this line. In Rap Devil, MGK says, “Homie we get it, we knowthat you’re the greatest rapper alive/F***in’ dweeb, all you do is read the dictionary and stay inside.” Once again, Mathers takes a line from Kelly’s own song to destroy him with it. First, I’m not really sure how MGK planned to use this as a diss. Really, it works more like a compliment. According to Billboard, as of 2015, Slim held the crown for best vocabulary in his catalog with 8,818 unique words. So, it would seem that if Eminem truly does sit and read the dictionary than it’s made him one of the best lyricists ever.
Second, what was MGK eating in the Rap Devil video? I can’t be the only one who found that odd. Last, Eminem, for at least a second, takes Kelly’s diss and flips it against him to show who truly is the better MC. It’s almost as if MGK can’t say anything that Eminem cannot turn against him. Hence, it was a bit foolish for Kells to swing, to begin with.
The fact that MGK cannot say anything without it being turned against him by Em cannot be overstated. Eminem, again, takes a quip against him by MGK and says, “Anything you can say, I can say better.” Slim said to Kells that in his old age, he would still rather be himself than MGK at 20. I don’t care how tough you think you are, that hurts to the core of one’s ego.
The nexus of this whole beef stems from a comment Machine Gun Kelly made about Hallie Mathers in 2012. Six years ago, MGK tweeted, “ok so I just saw a picture of Eminem’s daughter…and I have to say, she is hot as f**k, in the most respectful way possible cuz Em is king.” Credit to Kells in the sense that he tried to be respectful. What he said actually was not disrespectful. There’s really only one problem with what he said about Hallie: It’s Hallie. I would venture to guess that there are few things, if anything, that Marshall Mathers cares about in this world more than Hallie Mathers. It was a hail mary by Kells and he missed.
The most important part of this bar is the not so silent warning Eminem sends MGK. He flat out says Kelly will no longer exist because of him as he did to Ja Rule and Benzino. Don’t know who they are? You can thank Eminem for that.
I know I sound like a broken record but when one goes on the attack as Eminem did, certain aspects are worth repeating; just to drive the point home. Once more, Slim is taking a line from Rap Devil and slapping it across Kelly’s face in pure, taunting fashion. In Rap Devil, MGK takes aim at his height advantageover Em. Again, I enjoyed the line from Kelly, but Eminem flipped it once again. Shady basically explains that he doesn’t care how much shorter he is, Machine Gun Kelly would still do things that one would not write home about just to be him for a single second. Let that sink in. One second. Bars! Brutal! Yet, there’s still more.
At this point, the song is about to leave its climax. For about a minute and a half straight, Eminem is just unleashing on MGK. Just when you think the verbal assault is wrapping up, Slim hits you with a bar like this one. As if Kelly’s ego is not fractured enough at this point, Em either says that Kells does not have the ability to fire back or he says he never had the firepower to attack, to begin with. Either sentiment is devastating.
This line here almost made it as the killshot line. This one does not require much explanation. It’s short, sweet, and absolute fire. Eminem tells Machine Gun Kelly that as along as Mathers is Mathers, MGK will always be in his shadow. Kells never could be, and never will be, better than Slim Shady.
While there are lines after this one in the song that arenoteworthy, I feel as if this is the, for lack of a better term, the nail in the coffin (RIP Benzino). As if saying he was sick of the nonsense, Em says to MGK , flat out, that I’m better than you. There was nothing left to say at that point. Eminem is better than Machine Gun Kelly. Killshot was better than Rap Devil. The truth hurts.
As much as I would like to say MGK has learned his lesson, he hasn’t. Kelly has already said that Killshot did not hit its mark. I can understand wanting to save face, but that lie is egregious. One can only hope Machine Gun Kelly fires back again. Not because I think he will best the Rap God with a second effort, but because I know Slim Shady will come back harder.