2018 is proving to be a profitable year for the diss track. Pusha T’s “The Story Of Adidon” set the high bar, obviously, but there’s been a lot of them, a surprising number somehow related to aging Venom rapper Eminem. Earlier this month, the Detroit rapper kicked a hornet’s nest of vaguely apathetic hornets with his new album Kamikaze, dropping a few bars about fellow Midwestern rapper Machine Gun Kelly, and acknowledging a tepid feud between the two men that seems to have stemmed from comments Kelly made online about Eminem’s then-teenage daughter. (Or possibly Kelly’s belief that Eminem shut him out of “the industry”—it’s a real “he said, he said” of angry rapping white dudes with unappealing hair.)
Kelly fired back with the truly awful “Rap Devil,” and that’s probably where it should have ended. But Eminem never met a “should” he wouldn’t blow blithely past, and so now he’s released a new diss track against Kelly, titled “KILLSHOT”, and, wonder of wonders, it’s actually not terrible. (We know!)
Many of Eminem’s attacks on Kelly here center on a few undeniable facts, namely that, quality of the work aside, “Eminem” is still an internationally known brand, while Kelly’s name doesn’t even come up if you plug “best Cleveland rappers” into Google. “I’d rather be 80-year-old me than 20-year-old you,” he riffs at one point, and dips into the inherent paradox of beef by noting, “Had to give you a career to destroy it.”
Oh, and also, he suggests that Diddy killed Tupac, just in case you weren’t paying attention. (Eminem later plays that part off as a joke, but it really feels like he realized “Oh shit, I’m rapping about Machine Gun Kelly; I might need to give this thing a little more oomph.”)
And while it’s still not high art—nobody’s matching the scorched earth standard set by Pusha T back in May—it’s true that “angry, quick production” Eminem is still the best version of Eminem we’re likely to get these days, and we’ll take what we can get.