Is Eminem The Greatest Lyricist Ever?

Is Eminem The Greatest Lyricist Ever?

A brief analysis into the writing of hip-hop's finest

Rap is a constantly developing form of music, standing for Rhythm and Poetry. The poetry part, the rhymes, was perfected by Grandmaster Flash in the early 80s. Rhythm was perfected by Biggie Smalls in the 90s. Then Eminem came around in the late 90s. The kid from Missouri, made by Detroit, reinvented rap and took over the rap world.

Eminem writes poetry that is meant to be spoken and delivered on a beat. His delivery adds new meaning to every verse. He uses language as a tool to incite emotions in a way that nobody has ever matched. Eminem was named by Rolling Stone as the 82nd greatest artist of all time. He was also named the King of Hip Hop. Elvis Presley was the King of Rock, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, Solomon Burke and James Brown were the kings of Soul, and Eminem is the king of Hip Hop. He earned this title by reinventing rhyme schemes, mastering rhythm and pacing, and pioneering word play on a near-Shakespearean level.

Eminem can rhyme better than anyone in the history of writing. For most of history, poetry was standardized, they were either ballads, loose ballads, English sonnets, Italian sonnets, limericks, or haikus. William Shakespeare wrote 150 sonnets with identical rhyme schemes. Poetry in the present day has taken completely new forms—free verse and flow verse. Free verse poetry is non-rhyming natural speech. Flow verse consists of extremely loose rhymes, also known as slant rhymes, near rhymes, forced rhymes, family rhymes, etc. Also, flow verse has heavy internal rhyming and the rhythm is created by how words sound when spoken. This is most often seen in rap music, where Eminem is king.

In an English sonnet, á la Shakespeare, the rhyme scheme is A B A B C D C D E F E F G G: simply three quatrains (four line stanza) with alternating rhymes and no internal rhyme, followed by a couplet. This rhyme scheme is true for every English sonnet ever written. Eminem uses similar rhyme schemes, and then takes them to the next level by adding incredible internal rhymes. For example, in “Sing for the Moment,” Eminem says

"These ideas are, nightmares to white parents
Whose worst fear is a child with dyed hair and who likes earrings
Like whatever they say has no bearing
It’s so scary in a house that allows, no swearing
You see him walking around with his headphones blaring
Alone in his own zone, cold and he don’t care

He’s a problem child, and what bothers him all comes out
When he talks about, his f*cking dad walking out
Cause he just hates him so bad that he, blocks him out
If he ever saw him again he’d probably knock him out

His thoughts are wacked, he’s mad so he’s talking back
Talking black, brainwashed from rock and rap
He sags his pants, doo rags and a stocking cap
His step-father hit him so he, socked him back

And broke his nose, his house is a broken home
There’s no control, he just let’s his emotions go

This verse is a modified sonnet. Instead of three quatrains and a couplet, Eminem uses a sextain, two quatrains, and a couplet, all with equally crazy rhyme schemes. Eminem is really just showing off here. He starts with a six-lined stanza that has one of the most complex rhyme schemes I’ve ever seen:







Like a traditional stanza, nearly every line ends with a BC rhyme—pretty standard stuff. However, all of the other letters in that rhyme scheme are internal rhymes. In 73 syllables, there are 33 syllables that contribute to the rhyme scheme. That ratio is practically unheard of in poetry. Also, in those 33 syllables, only 5 different rhyme types are introduced. That sound consistency is actually ridiculous. Eminem used a single hard “o” sound in lines 3, 4, and 5. In the final line, he uses five hard “o” sounds in a row. Beautiful. He brings this back in the final couplet by using five straight hard “o” sounds.

The speed at which Eminem can rap has also helped make him famous. In the popular verse from “Rap God,” Eminem says

Uh, sama lamaa duma lamaa you assuming I'm a human
What I gotta do to get it through to you I'm superhuman
Innovative and I'm made of rubber
So that anything you saying ricocheting off of me and it'll glue to you

I'm never stating, more than never demonstrating
How to give a mother****ing audience a feeling like it's levitating
Never fading, and I know that the haters are forever waiting
For the day that they can say I fell off, they'd be celebrating
Cause I know the way to get 'em motivated
I make elevating music…

Here, Eminem delivers a whopping 150 syllables, 97 words, in a “supersonic” 14.6 seconds. This comes out to just over 10 syllables, or 6.6 words, PER SECOND. For comparison, average human conversation ranges from 75-125 words per minute, an average auctioneer speaks at 250 words per minute. Eminem is speaking at 400 words per minute in this stretch. Then, in the very next line, he drops the pace to a mere 130 words per minute. Lyrical rollercoaster.

My favorite part of Eminem’s style is his word play. He uses words’ sounds, spellings, and meanings to create puns that go over most people’s heads in the middle of a verse. Some of his best ones (somewhat ironically from pretty bad songs) are listed below:

“I gave Bruce Wayne a Valium and said ‘settle you’re a** down I’m ready for combat, man. Get it? Calm Batman?” –Won’t Back Down

“Now you get to watch her leave out the window, guess that’s why they call it window pane.” –Love the Way You Lie

“Standing on my Monopoly board, I’m on top of my game.” –No Love

“I must be allergic to failure because every time I come close to it, I just sneeze, but I just go achoo and still achieve.” –Survival

“Girl, I ain’t got no money to borrow, but I’m trying to find a way to get you alone.” –Berserk

Cover Image Credit: E! Online

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.

Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Severus Snape Is The Worst, And Here's Why

Albus Severus, sweetie, I'm so sorry...


I grew up being absolutely obsessed with the Harry Potter franchise. I read the books for the first time in second and third grade, then again in middle school, and for the third time in my last year of high school. Recently, I had a somewhat heated argument with a fellow fan of the books about Severus Snape. As I've reread the Harry Potter books, I've noticed that, although J.K. Rowling tried to give him a redemption arc, he only got worse because of it. Here's why I still think Severus Snape is the absolute worst.

His love for Lily Potter was actually really creepy. When I was younger and reading the books, I always found the fact that he held fast in his love for Lily to be very endearing, even noble. However, rereading it after going through a couple of relationships myself, I've come to realize that the way he pined over her was super creepy. It was understandable during his time at Hogwarts; he was bullied, and she was the only one who "understood" him. However, she showed zero interest, and if that didn't clue him into realizing that he should back off, her involvement with James Potter should have. She was married. He was pining after a married, happy woman. If he truly loved her, he would have realized how happy she was and backed off. Instead, he took it out on her orphan son and wallowed in bitterness and self-pity, which is creepy and extremely uncool. When a girl is kind to a boy during high school (or in this case, wizard school), it's not an open invitation for him to pine for her for the literal rest of his life and romanticizes the absolute @#$% out of her. It's just her being a decent person. Move on, Severus.

He verbally abused teenagers. One of the most shocking examples of this is in The Prisoner of Azkaban when Snape literally told Neville Longbottom that he would kill his beloved toad, Trevor if he got his Shrinking Potion wrong, and then punished him when he managed to make the potion correctly. Furthermore, poor Neville's boggart was literally Snape. The amount of emotional torture Neville must have been enduring from Snape to create this type of debilitating fear must have been almost unbearable, and even if Snape was simply trying to be a "tough" professor, there is no excuse for creating an atmosphere of hostility and fear like he did in his potions class for vulnerable students like Neville. In addition, he ruthlessly tormented Harry (the last living piece of Lily Potter, his supposed "true love," btw), and made fun of Hermione Granger's appearance. Sure, he might have had a terrible life. However, it's simply a mark of poor character to take it out on others, especially when the people you take it out on are your vulnerable students who have no power to stand up to you. Grow up.

He willingly joined a terrorist group and helped them perform genocide and reign over the wizarding world with terror tactics for a couple of decades. No explanation needed as to why this is terrible.

Despite the constant romanticization of his character, I will always see the core of Severus Snape, and that core is a bitter, slimy, genocidal, manipulative trash being. J.K. Rowling's attempt to redeem him only threw obsessive and controlling traits into the mix. Snape is the absolute worst, and romanticizing him only removes criticism of an insane man who just so happened to be capable of love (just like the vast majority of the rest of us). Thank you, next.

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