If you want to start an argument, tell a hip-hop fan who you think the best rapper of all time is. Everybody has a different pick in this endless debate that has raged on for about as long as rappers have existed, but Eminem, who himself is the GOAT in the eyes of many, has a different take on it.
Speaking with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe about his “At Home With” playlist, he declared that his best rapper of all time is… nobody, because the evolution of hip-hop has spawned different rappers who have vastly different skill sets. So, in his eyes, there isn’t one single “best” rapper. Em said:
“When people compare, when they try to compare eras… hip-hop’s went through too many different transitions for anyone really to be the best rapper of all time, because rap has went through transitions, it’s evolved. Now people are doing things with flows that I never could have seen happening. But at the same time, rappers from that [golden age] era meant so much more to that era, just because there were so many innovators and there were so many rappers.”
He also downplayed his own influence, telling Lowe, “I know I’ve been around for a minute, but I don’t feel like, honestly, in my heart of hearts, I don’t feel like anything I did, anything I’ve done up to this point, is more influential than they were to their era. You know what I’m saying? To me, I will never mean more than they meant to their era. A lot of times, when people ask me what my top favorite rappers are, I don’t even know how to answer that, because there’s so many rappers that have been so great and still are great. And by the way, I think Rakim probably is still great. I haven’t heard anything he’s working on lately, but I guarantee you he ain’t lost that sh*t, because that kind of sh*t don’t go away. It just doesn’t.”
Elsewhere in the interview, he name-drops everybody from Ice Cube to Run DMC to Nas, so check out the full conversation above.