It’s always dicey when discussing the best or most important rapper of a particular era. In the late ‘80s golden age, Rakim often times got the universal nod as the greatest of that groundbreaking time. The ‘90s saw a sting of diverse MC’s wear the crown, from the late Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur to heralded Queensbridge rhyme giant Nas and Atlanta’s Andre 3000 to the gifted Lauryn Hill, who took female emceeing to new artistic heights.
But according to 50 Cent, there is one MC who will go down as the biggest game-changer of the past decade or so. And no, it’s not Jay-Z, Kanye West or Drake.
“I think Eminem is more important to hip-hop than people actually credit him for,” the veteran music and media mogul tells VIBE on the set of the upcoming Starz crime drama Power, of which Fiddy serves as executive producer. “Just black music in general… when it loses it’s color, artists and people that have been so invested in it, come into it, put their passion in it, and they actually become that good at it? That opens up doors, windows, everything.”
Of course, 50 and Eminem have had a long and productive friendship for more than 10 years. It was Em who signed a young and hungry 50 Cent to Shady Records, unleashing the ‘hood-fueled MC’s multi-platinum, landmark 2003 debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’. For the man born Curtis Jackson, the overall impact of Eminem goes beyond record sales. He believes the Detroit spitter has allowed hip-hop to go beyond its Bronx-bred street origins to allow acts like a certain recent Grammy darling from Seattle to prosper even amid polarizing controversy as well as giving the opportunity to a former Queens drug dealer to live out his dreams.
“It opens the door for a [Macklemore],” 50 continues, alluding to the white MC who beat out critically-acclaimed Compton lyricist Kendrick Lamar at this year’s Grammy Awards, a shocking win that sparked much debate. “Those artists are really important to the growth of our actual culture. And if you see what hip-hop has done for me it’s allowed me to travel the world and to meet people from different walks and ethnicities, and allow me to broaden my perspective on life, period. There’s nothing as beautiful as what can happen with hip-hop music and culture.”
50, who is set to release his upcoming album Animal Ambition later this year, is busy finishing up Power, which boast Courtney Kemp Agboh (The Good Wife) as creator and show runner. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)