Why Eminem Is A Rap Jimi Hendrix – Rap Analysis

You check your phone for the time, wondering, “Who does my music teacher think they are?”

Being kept waiting is one thing, but paying someone who is late on you is something else. However, eventually you might want to ask yourself instead, “Who do other people think my music teacher is?,” because you won’t be learning just any kind of music from them.

Only for now you sit back, trying to relax and ignore the glare from the portrait of Beethoven on the wall — or Mozart, or Bach, they all have funny wigs on usually, so who can tell? But it’s right above the gleaming black grand piano you’re sitting at, so it’s hard to look somewhere else. You could take a seat at the very impressive 20-piece drum set over there, you figure. But then you’d have to pass by the array of expensive guitars drawn up in orderly rows and columns like a little guitar army, and you can just imagine the disastrous domino effect you’d start if you accidently bumped into one of them. Staring at the microphone set up to record a vocalist’s performance, you guess that the chest-high stack of notated music scores are right next to it so that your teacher can get to them easily. “I mean, professor, not teacher…” A successful, highly respected musician like the one who would have to work in this gorgeous studio would surely desire the statelier, more respectful title. But you can’t really be sure, because you’ve never met your new teach…professor; you only recently signed up for lessons. And while you’re thinking through all of this, the professor still hasn’t come. “What’s the deal?”

But look at your phone again, and try searching his name on the Internet in order to find some good reasons for your waiting in the musical awards and praise he’s no doubt won in the past. Because some of his lyrics from the songs you might come across could make you stop your complaining very, very quickly:

“All I do is drop f-bombs, feel my wrath of attack.”

“I spit when I talk. I’ll [CENSORED] anything that walks.”

“Let’s shoot him in his kneecaps, he’ll never see it coming!”

And just now you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, 5 or 15 or 500 minutes late isn’t so bad…”

Because those are not the kind of sentiments, sentences, or expletives usually heard from accomplished musicians, or accomplished anythings, for that matter. Besides seeming to have more curses than witches and warlocks, it also sounds like he gets around more than the vinyl records his albums are sometimes printed on. But the lessons you signed up for are actually lessons on how to rap, so this musician might break a lot of people’s preconceived notions of what a musician should act like or look like.

But what else besides “musician” could you call someone who has practiced and honed their abilities on an instrument for years while mastering it technically? Who can express themselves convincingly in multiple ways by sometimes being more in your face than a nose, sometimes more underhanded than a softball pitcher? Who maintains an original artistic voice while acknowledging their predecessors and influences? These are all characteristics of a master musician, no matter whether they do their work at a piano, a drum set, a guitar, or a microphone, like the mystery rap instructor from the start of this chapter. Let the suspense build for a bit before I reveal his true, real life identity, and in the meantime I’ll show that many people don’t consider rappers to be true musicians and that this negative stance towards rap, which comes from many different corners of our society, affects the way both rap outsiders and rap fans view the genre.

For example, lawyers have been using rap videos and lyrics as evidence in criminal trials in order to prosecute suspects, as detailed in a 2014 New York Times article.[i] The authors write, “As expert witnesses who have testified in such cases, we have observed firsthand how prosecutors misrepresent rap music to judges and juries.” The case the writers discuss comes from New Jersey, but what they detail is not an isolated incident in just one state.[ii][iii] Meanwhile, this judicial and legal practice has never been instituted for other kinds of music like rock. Skepticism towards the genre’s artistic value also comes from political and cultural channels as well. President Barack Obama was involved with his own rap-related controversy when First Lady Michelle Obama invited Chicago rapper Common to perform at the White House in 2011. The administration was attacked by critics for supporting Common, a supposedly “controversial” and “vile” rapper.[iv] But Common’s real message at the small concert was specifically against violence, as he performed such lyrics as, “It’s hard to see blessings in a violent culture.”[v] The outcry against Common showed that some news outlets were skeptical of the genre as a whole when they lumped a rapper renowned for his politically conscious messages into a supposedly uniform group of gangsters and thugs. There was little similar protest against past White House invites like soul king James Brown in 2001, who is well known for his raunchy songs about sex and his multiple arrests throughout the years for drugs, weapons, and domestic violence. Resistance towards rap has even come from the artistic world itself at times. Rap did not receive its own Best Song category at the Grammys until 2004, 12 years after rock first did, and 18 years after rap group Run-D.M.C. had great success with their album Raising Hell, which went triple-platinum by selling more than 3 million copies. An Internet-wide search also returns few results of academic papers that are written on rap in terms of its musical characteristics, further showing that few people think of rappers as musicians first and foremost. The reader very well may feel that rappers are musicians, but there others out there in powerful positions in the world who don’t, and this is bad for the way both rap diehards and strangers to rap feel about the music.

All of these large-scale trends might seem far removed from a rap fan’s own enjoyment of their favorite music, but they actually affect how even a dedicated listener views the genre in small but crucial and negative ways. For example, there are many names that are used to refer to the words a rapper writes: lyrics, lines, verses, rap, even poetry, sometimes. Yet none of those terms refer to uniquely musical details, like rhythm, melody, or orchestration. This has unfavorable consequences when it allows rap’s opponents, like those just detailed, to continue their attacks with fewer challenges to what they say. While hurting rap fans, their claims also encourage possible newcomers to the music to never hear it in the first place, and so such possible converts miss out on a whole lot of very enjoyable art. To be fair, rap has its own share of unusual characteristics that do set it apart from most kinds of music in some ways. For instance, rap performance has no established system of schools or teachers dedicated to its practice, as pianists and guitarists do, that might lead outsiders to take it more seriously (Alas, our opening story of a rap music teacher was just that: a story.)

But if we were to look past those peculiarities, like the lurid subject matter that our previous police departments and political commentators chose to emphasize, we would start to see rappers as true musicians. We can do this by sticking to an artistic template that can be established around already widely recognized musicians like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Michael Jackson, each of whom have sold at least 10 million records and many awards. Those acts altogether cover various genres, including disco, R&B, soul, and pop, not to mention all kinds of rock, such as psychedelic, blues, electronic, experimental, folk, and still more. But as we’ll see, they also possess timeless musical skills that all very talented musicians do: technical mastery of an instrument, originality, and versatility. Certainly there are other artists that can be included on this list who would also fit our criteria and expand our musical horizons into jazz and other areas, such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, and still more. But that entire list of critically and popularly acclaimed artists is conspicuously missing a very popular genre of today’s musical world: rap. Representative of this is the fact that there is no rap artist higher than 44th place in Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Artists Of All Time” article[vi]. My goal is to change that by showing that rappers are true musicians on the level of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, or even that Beethoven guy from the start of our story.

As colleagues in this group like John Lennon or Michael Jackson who would leave this world a few Grammy awards early, Jimi Hendrix still managed to leave a footprint in the musical world the size of Big Foot’s. Despite the short time frame of his 4-year solo career, you can listen to any of the Seattle guitarist’s tracks to hear his searing virtuosity, but particularly on the song “All Along The Watchtower.” Hendrix’s lightning-quick playing, use of complex techniques like harmonics, and his stamina in being able to play for hours straight at his live shows all speak to his unsurpassed skill. Soaring pitch bends and impossibly quick chords in his solo are enough to make many listeners forget that this song is in fact a cover of a Bob Dylan record. 4 decades later, Hendrix is still sometimes hailed as the greatest guitarist ever.

To defend rappers as true musicians, this guideline of technical mastery can actually be successfully applied to our mystery teacher from the start of this story, who is none other than…drum roll, please…

No, seriously, roll those drums! I’ll wait.

Thank you, because now I can reveal that our mystery man is…


An artist like Eminem couldn’t be any more different from Jimi Hendrix in terms of the music the two made, right? Well, it might seem that way when we listen to how their songs sound, but not when we look at the musical skills that went into making each of the two’s songs and albums.

It might feel slightly odd to consider a human voice like Eminem’s to be an instrument until you see how other, more traditional musicians who rely on their voice are treated. No one would ever argue that Michael Jackson isn’t a musician because his main focus was singing. These vocalists have something with which they make music: their vocal cords. They have to take care of their instrument, by not overusing it and singing too much. They train for years and years on their instrument, sometimes taking lessons from established masters. They build up their stamina in practice sessions so that they can sing or play fast and loud during long live shows, just as Hendrix did. All of this is also the case for rappers as well, and Eminem’s song “Rap God” displays some very good reasons for how this is true. Fittingly, “Rap God” is actually one of the tracks that contains some of the lines from above that, heaven forbid, nearly scared you away from learning about rap completely!

Eminem starts off his lines on this 2013 track somewhat unremarkably: “I’m beginning to feel like a rap god, rap god / All my people from the front to the back nod, back nod.” His careful, almost hesitant delivery on these lines might be the opposite of what you were expecting on a track with a bragging title like “Rap God.” It takes Eminem about 6 seconds to say those 2 sentences, something any of us could pretty easily do — try it yourself. But with that boom-banging beat in the background, you get the feeling that this is all just an appetizer before the main course…and it is. Because these lines are just a set up for what Eminem does in the 3rd verse, when this Rap God writes his gospel.

“You assuming I’m superhuman / What I gotta do to get it through to you / I’m superhuman / Innovative and I’m made of rubber so that anything you say is richocheting off of me and it’ll glue to you.” Now, just reading those rhymes on a page and not hearing the song itself might make them stick out for how many there are, but Eminem also raps all of those 54 syllables at the rambling-auctioneer speed of just 5 seconds. Go ahead and try doing that yourself without taking a breath. Pretty difficult, right? This is the equivalent of Hendrix’s fast, ripping 32nd note riffs on his own songs. To emphasize that rappers are very talented musicians, we can also talk about the strictly musical aspects of these lines. Those 54 syllables of writing are the same thing as 54 musical notes, all of which occur in the musical duration of 2 bars. A bar is a musical unit of time that organizes all pieces of music so that instrumentalists know when to start and stop their playing. Bars are similar to how minutes organize hours, or how hours organize days. They are useful to talk about because they always last the same amount of musical time between two different songs, even if one song is slow and the other is fast. This means that you can use bars to make accurate comparisons between different pieces of music, and that’s exactly what we’ll do with Eminem’s “Rap God.”

Because in order to know whether Eminem is a technical master, we have to compare his own rapping technique to other popular rap that came out the same year, 2013. There are few records more popular than one that tops the Billboard Rap Song chart for 15 weeks straight in a single year, like how Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ hit “Thrift Shop” did. We can even take Macklemore’s fastest lines from this record and see that they aren’t as quick as Eminem’s: “Copping it, washing it / ‘Bout to go and get some compliments / Passing off on those moccasins someone else has been walking in.” In those 2 bars, Macklemore raps 29 syllables or notes, which is only about half of Eminem’s own mark of 54 that came in the same exact musical length of time. Macklemore is still a very talented rapper, just in ways that are different from the methods of our Detroit microphone rocker on “Rap God.” Eminem likewise outpaces other famous rappers of his time, such as Flo Rida, Jay-Z, or Pitbull, all of whom also had songs that charted around that time.

“Rap God” isn’t even something that was put together with the magic of a recording studio and multiple takes. You can search for Eminem’s live performances of the track online to see him spit these endurance-testing lyrics exactly the same way as the studio version. Being able to rap quickly in itself does not mean you are a master rapper, but when you know how to use slow rapping to make quick rapping stand out even more, as we see Eminem do, then you truly are a master on the level of someone like Jimi Hendrix. These conclusions hopefully move more of the focus in discussions on rap towards its value as music primarily, and move it away from any kind of moral value it may or may not have to society that those lawyers and policemen chose to emphasize. As important as that debate is to have, it is besides the point here when we’re debating rap’s value as music and only music.

This means that resistance to rap as music is at its strongest when its argument responds using the same musical terms, like rhythm or technique, that I’ve just used. One particularly strong argument is the thought that rap is not music because rappers do not craft a melody in their work. A melody is the idea in a musical composition that stands out the most, and is made up of a combination of rhythms and pitches. The type of pitch in a melody is the difference between the sound of your voice when you’re talking to your friend and the sound of a voice when it sings tunes like “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” “The Star-Spangled Banner, or “Happy Birthday.” Critics of rap cite melody as Western civilization’s most important and necessary musical element. While other musical cultures like those in Africa or Asia might focus on features like drumming percussion, the West has developed melody and complex harmony, which is the playing of multiple melodies at the same time. Accordingly, opponents of rap think that its lack of traditional melody makes it a lower form of music.

On the surface, the soaring leaps of “The Star-Spangled Banner” seems like they couldn’t be any more different from the sometimes monotone delivery of a rapper. But every sound we hear in our lives has pitch, and even when people speak they use pitch to craft a kind of vocal melody. For instance, when you ask a question your voice ends in a rising pitch to show that you’re waiting for an answer. This means that the sound of a person’s voice when rapping does indeed have a kind of melody. It goes up and down in logical ways, with a smooth, flowing contour made up of high and low points. Every rap has moments of tension that a rapper crafts by saying their words a certain way. For example, they might say them so that each syllable is very separated from the next one. But then there are moments of relaxation, when a rapper might pronounce their words so that they are all connected to each other. For instance, Eminem began “Rap God” very slowly, and this made the cookin’ 3rd verse even more impressive. These same considerations have been used to assess traditional melodies for centuries. As an example, our national anthem goes way, WAY up to create tension (“Oh, oh, say can you see…”), and then comes back down at the end of the verse to release it so that the song feels like it’s finished (“…at the twilight’s last gleaming…”) This shows that Eminem crafts melodies in the same way that Francis Scott Key did when he wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” or when Jimi Hendrix recorded his own version of “All Along The Watchtower.”

As good as Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison were at their own respective instruments — let’s not kid ourselves about Ringo, okay? — not many people would argue that they were technical masters on the same level of someone like Jimi Hendrix. Instead, The Beatles are renowned for the originality of their songwriting. The Beatles started off their career writing a pretty standard form of straight guitar rock and roll on their albums like Please Please Me and With the Beatles, both of which display a deep familiarity with the work of legends of the past, like the Everly Brothers. This is shown in their use of close harmonies and short rock and roll songs with very tight forms. However, by the end of their career The Beatles had moved onto innovative songs like “Revolution 9” from The White Album, which is a sound collage of random poetry readings and snippets from famous classical music pieces. Such a technique had been pioneered previously by French classical composers, and The Beatles are legendary for successfully adapting it into a popular music form. Another example of their innovation includes the use of new and different instruments in their music, like their sitars on “Within You, Without You” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. These 4 Liverpudlians accordingly stand out for their special ability to make new and engaging music out of material that’s on the more traditional side.

This means that our second criteria for expert musicians is that, like the Beatles, they should know the history of the music they’re making while always building on that history in order to take it to new places. Eminem does exactly that throughout all of his albums, even on two tracks he released very early on in his career.

Another song from your rap teacher on which you maybe learned more than you wanted to about him was the song “Bad Guys Always Die” and its line, “Let’s shoot him in his kneecaps, he’ll never see it coming!” It might make you feel a little better to know that Eminem isn’t threatening just any human being here, but the evil villain from the 1999 movie Wild Wild West that starred Will Smith. On “Bad Guys Always Die,” Eminem weaves the classic western image of a high noon, gunslingin’ showdown between two desperadoes, himself and Dr. Dre, into the main plot of Wild Wild West. But Eminem also turns a familiar type of genre narrative, one that details the daring escapades of the rapper, into a musical tribute by inserting references to the Beastie Boys 1986 track “Paul Revere,” from their legendary Licensed To Ill album.

When Beastie Boy Ad-Rock is ready to introduce a new character into the story of a bar fight gone more wrong on “Paul Revere,” Ad-Rock raps, “Quick on the draw, I thought I’d be dead / He put the gun to my head and this is what he said.” At that point his fellow Beastie Boys compadre MCA starts rapping. 13 years later, when Eminem is ready to introduce himself as a character into the plot of “Bad Guys Always Die,” he has Dr. Dre rap, “And just when I went to fill him with hot lead / I put the gun to his head, and this is what he said.” The lines are unmistakably a direct quotation of the Beastie Boys, whom Eminem has called one of his important influences in interviews. But this is not the only time Eminem gives them an obvious shout out, as both songs end in similar ways as well. In the wrap up of their tale of a shotgun robbery, The Beastie Boys rap up, “Mike D. grabbed the money, MCA snatched the gold / I grabbed two girlies.” When Eminem ends his own story, he styles the lines “Dre grabbed the map, the plaques and the gold / I grabbed two girlies.” Once again, the lines are almost identical, but Eminem has changed the Beastie Boys’ lines to fit his own story.

Eminem continues to lace musical tributes through this track when he references the past musical work of his partner in crimes Dr. Dre. Eminem knows that Dre made one of the greatest rap albums ever released, the 1992 album The Chronic, on which fellow LA rapper Snoop Dogg played a big part. And so on “Bad Guys Always Die,” Eminem flips “Do you recall when you and Snoop was a group? / The Chronic, well, all we gotta do is find the path to part two.” Far from being familiar with only the biggest hits of Dr. Dre’s career, Eminem shows that he knows the details of the devil as well: “I could hear somebody singing / It sounded like ‘A G Thang,’ and a verse from ‘Keep Their Heads Ringin.’” In those rhymes 2 titles of historically important Dr. Dre songs are mentioned: “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” and “Keep Their Heads Ringin’.” While the first one comes from the famous Chronic album, it is the Friday movie soundtrack that contains the less well known but no less well made “Keep Their Heads Ringin’” track by Dr. Dre.

Clearly, Eminem knows his history. But with all of these historical quotations and references, can Eminem also make his own artistic voice stand out? Eminem’s approach to storytelling builds on what has come before him, but it is a complex rhyming technique that has always been the signature of Eminem’s rap over his entire career. This skill is found even in his very first single, which came out in 1997. Let’s take a look at that track’s opening rhymes below, where all rhymes are bolded, and where each line is its own sentence:

Slim Shady,

Brain dead like Jim Brady

I’m an M-80

You little like that Kim lady

I’m buzzin’,

Dirty dozen, naughty rotten rhymer

Cursing at you players worse than Marty Schottenheimer

Here, Eminem’s rhymes are very complex in terms of the number of rhymes he drops, and the length of those rhymes. The phrases in the “Slim Shady” / “Jim Brady” / “M-80” / “Kim lady” rhyme group are all 3-syllable rhymes. Many rappers at that time were using rhymes that were 1 or 2 syllables long, as we’ll soon see. But it is Eminem’s final rhymes in these lines that are truly amazing, because every syllable in the phrase “naughty rotten rhymer” matches up exactly with those in “Marty Schottenheimer.” For instance, “naugh-” rhymes with “Mar-”, “Schott-” rhymes with “rot-”, and so on. That is a rhyme with a length of 6 whole syllables. And out of a total 48 syllables in those lines, 28 syllables are rhymed, which means more than half of all syllables in Eminem’s lines are rhymed. But Eminem’s verbal fireworks don’t end there, because later on in the song he also uses a technique called extended rhyming. This is when a rapper continues rhymes on the same vowel sounds for a long time:

“Smell the Folgers crystals

This is lyrical combat

Gentleman, hold your pistols

But I form like Voltron and blast you with my shoulder missiles

Slim Shady, Eminem was the old initials

Above, Eminem continues a 4-syllable rhyme over 5 different sentences, on the phrases “Folgers crystals / “hold your pistols” / “shoulder missiles” / “old initials.” This is far different from a lot of the other rap that was made around 1997.

Because to know whether this kind of complex rhyming Eminem uses is original in rap or not, we need to compare it to other rap that was popular at that time. It would say even more about Eminem’s originality if his complex rhyming wasn’t found even in the hit rap songs that came out years later, and a famous rap song that topped the Billboard charts would be even better (Eminem’s own song was off the charts…as in it didn’t even make it onto them.) Luckily enough, we do not have to go very far at all to find such a song. Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West,” from the same 1999 soundtrack as “Bad Guys Always Die,” was much more popular than Eminem’s record when the film’s music album first came out. Let’s compare the Fresh Prince’s opening rhymes on the song “Wild Wild West” to Eminem’s:

“Jim West


Rough rider,

No, you don’t want nada

None of this,

Six-gunning this

Brother running this

Buffalo Soldier,

Look, it’s like I told ya

In these lines, the Philadelphia emcee doesn’t have any rhymes that are longer than 2 syllables, which falls far short of Eminem’s own 6 and 4-syllable rhymes. Throughout the whole song Smith actually doesn’t have any rhymes that are longer than 3 syllables. Plus, only about a third of Smith’s syllables here are rhymed, which is far below Eminem’s rate of roughly 50%. We can make all these comparisons because although Will Smith’s quoted lines last about 8 seconds in a quicker song, and Eminem’s examples last about 12 seconds each in a slower song, they are all the same musical length of time: 4 bars.

Will Smith’s best rhymes on this song aren’t even in the same sport, much less league, as Eminem’s:

“Tryna bring down me, the champion

When y’all clowns gon’ see that it can’t be done?

Understand me son,

I’m the slickest they is

I’m the quickest they is”

In the above, Smith actually does have 3-syllable rhymes, on “champion” and “can’t be done,” where he changes the pronunciation of the words to make them match up with each other. But unlike Eminem, who continues complex rhymes for a long time in his own rap, Smith immediately moves on to shorter rhymes afterwards, on “slickest” with “quickest.” Again, only about a third of the Fresh Prince’s syllables are rhymed, still far short of Eminem’s own rate. Eminem’s rhyming stats also compare favorably to other famous rappers of the time, such as Puff Daddy, Mase, and Timbaland. Although Eminem was not the first to use such complex rhymes — earlier pioneers like Slick Rick did as well — he was one of the first rappers to extend them even further, while popularizing such trickeries for a global audience eventually.

Michael Jackson was one person who similarly reached fans all across the world, while also stamping his own unique mark on many different genres. To hear this you need only direct your ears towards singles that came out at two different points in his career, one from the 1980s and one from the 1970s. Jackson’s 6th album, Thriller, was a huge mix of different genres, including disco, rock, funk, and R&B. But few would have imagined that Jackson would be capable of such a wide artistic range when he was a youngster coming up with The Jackson 5, a group focused squarely on bubblegum pop songs. This family band’s style is perfectly encapsulated in their 1970 hit, “ABC,” with its live instrumentation, sweet vocal harmonies borrowed from Motown soul, and simple lyrics of teenage puppy love. Meanwhile, the second single from Jackson’s later album Thriller, “Beat It,” starts off with foreboding synth orchestra hits, and are overmatched only by the rude blues riff served up by a peer of our own Jimi Hendrix as a guitar-wielding Picasso, Eddie Van Halen. Far from singing in the smooth, sonorous tenor of his Jackson 5 days, Jackson introduces an edgy, growling element into his vocal delivery as a tough guy talking about gang fights.

So besides Eminem’s technical mastery and originality, what about his versatility? The 3 tracks of his we examined might seem somewhat similar: Eminem is playing a tough, gangster criminal while dropping complex rhymes. What if he were to take on a more vulnerable persona, while he made his approach to rhyming more flexible? That’s exactly what he does on tracks besides those we’ve just examined, such as “Stan,” “Mockingbird,” or “Like Toy Soldiers.” Because a consideration of versatility needs a wide survey of an artist’s music, we’ll save that aspect for the next chapter. There, we’ll see just what makes Eminem so surprisingly similar to Michael Jackson, another talented musician who could have given us the coolest music lessons of all time.


[i] Nielson, Erik, and Charis E. Kubrin. “”Rap Lyrics On Trial”” New York Times 14 Jan. 2014: A27. New York Times. 13 Jan. 2014. Web. Feb. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/14/opinion/rap-lyrics-on-trial.html?_r=2>.

[ii] Fausset, Richard. “Lil’ Boosie Murder Trial: Did His Lyrics Show Intent To Kill?” Los Angeles Times. N.p., 10 May 2012. Web. Feb. 2014. <http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/10/nation/la-na-nn-rap-lyrics-at-heart-of-murder-trial-20120510>.

[iii] Goldstein, Joseph, and J. David Goodman. “Seeking Clues to Gangs and Crime, Detectives Follow Internet Rap Videos.” New York Times 8 Jan. 2014: A20. 7 Jan. 2014. Web. Feb. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/nyregion/seeking-clues-to-gangs-and-crime-detectives-monitor-internet-rap-videos.html>.

[iv] “Michelle Obama Hosting Vile Rapper at White House?” Fox Nation. N.p., n.d. Web. Feb. 2014. <http://nation.foxnews.com/common/2011/05/09/michelle-obama-hosting-vile-rapper-white-house>.

[v] Zak, Dan. “Amid Media Controversy, Rapper Common Performs At White House.” Washington Post. N.p., 11 May 2011. Web. Feb. 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/rapper-common-performs-at-white-house-amid-media-controversy/2011/05/11/AFQHgcuG_story.html>.

[vi] Yauch, Adam. “100 Greatest Artists: Public Enemy | Rolling Stone.” Rolling Stone. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014. <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-greatest-artists-of-all-time-19691231/public-enemy-20110420>.

Martin Connor is a music teacher & writer from Philadelphia, PA, with a music degree of high distinction from Duke University who is currently studying for a master’s degree at Brandeis University in Boston, MA, while focusing his research on the vocal melodies of the rap genre. He has contributed freelance articles to HipHopDX, Complex, and Pigeons and Planes, and had multiple articles from his website, www.RapAnalysis.com go viral on BET, The Source, XXL, and MTV. He teaches rap lessons online through the music school LessonFace, and has a book, The Artistry Of Rap Music, forthcoming from the McFarland Publishing House, scheduled for release in late 2017, as a follow-up to his 2014 contribution to their anthology "Eminem & Rap, Poetry, Race." He welcomes all comments, compliments, insults, and restaurant suggestions at [email protected].


  1. Man, you have truly changed the way I look at rap, starting with your analysis of "backseat freestyle". My favorite rappers have all changed and I now listen to the music so much more closely. Can't wait for your book!

  2. This was a great tease. That opening scene… why do you have to play on my fantasies 🙁 A lesson from Eminem himself personally would be such a killer. I really like this first chapter so far, can't wait to buy the book when it comes out!

    1. Thanks man! Me too! haha. If you really did like it, I have some other shit you might enjoy – the proposal to the agent of why he should pick the book up, or the first/newest version of this chapter (all 3 are pretty different.) email me at [email protected] if you want some shit.

      Thanks again for the compliment man!

  3. Just finished watching "Rap Deconstructed" for the 3rd? time, and both my boyfriend and would love to hear your thoughts on, say, "Speedom," the collab between Tech N9ne/Krizz Kaliko/Eminem. Something, anything, in fact, on the complexity and finesse that Tech brings to every song he makes would be great, too.

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