In the history of white rappers, there are two eras: Before Eminem and After Eminem.We are firmly in A.E. now, and though you could make an argument for the Beastie Boys as equally significant to music, the Beastie Boys were not the top-selling artist of the last decade, like Eminem was. He also had the #1 album of 2010.
Now, with Mac Miller‘s innovative social media marketing poised to move 180,000 copies or more of his debut album “Blue Slide Park” — making it the first independently distributed #1 album since 1995 — it’s worth looking at the world of white rappers in 2011.
THE FOREFATHERS: While the Beastie Boys weren't the first white kids to try and rap, they remain to this day some of the best, and their irreverent sample collages had an influence beyond just hip-hop.
Hand in hand with the Beasties, Rick Rubin started Def Jam and, though he never rapped himself, played an integral role in popularizing hip-hop.
Then there's Eminem. Marshall Mathers came up out of Detroit as a battle-rapper and rewrote the book on what hip-hop could be. He'll be 40 next year, and he's still going strong.
Father of New York City label Def Jux, El-P's rhymes are unbelievably knotted and assonant. And he's as accomplished a producer as he is rapper.
Also a Def Jux guy before it went under, Aesop Rock has a similar list of accomplishments as El-P, though his style is different: same interwoven rhyme schemes, but more esoteric, impressionistic lyrics.
Of course, compared to the anticon. guys, Aesop Rock is easy music. Led by Doseone, Sole and Yoni Wolf of Why?, anticon.'s an Oakland collective that makes blippy intellectual rap. Also, Doseone famously dueled Eminem at battle-rap extravaganza Scribble Jam in 1997.
Rich Hil, the son of fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, picked up some serious buzz earlier this year when he got signed to Warner Bros. Records. Even with tattoos covering his skin and his scorched-earth flow, he's still mostly a reminder of Connecticut prep schools.
THE OTHER GUYS: These MCs don't fit into a broader category, starting with Slug from Atmosphere, who's got elements of the virtuoso when he isn't bringing to mind a '90s alt-rocker.
Machine Gun Kelly, a native of Cleveland, has traces of frat-rap but affects a far more street-oriented style. With a recent signing to Diddy's Bad Boy Records, his star is on the rise.
Cage fit in with the Def Jux guys for a while, but the horrorcore MC has since gone a different route. A founder of the Weathermen, with El-P and Aesop Rock, Cage has never shown quite the level of consistency those two guys have. Shia Labeouf filmed his most recent video and wants to make a biopic about him.
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