Arguments on the Block: Who got Who on Renegade?

Non-substantive hip hop arguments after basketball was one of my favorite past times in the summers.  Did LL really win?  Was Tupac a fake thug?  Did AZ get Nas on Life’s a Bitch?  (No, Yes and Yes are the correct answers to those questions by the way).  The most interesting one to me was how Jay completely switched his style up and adapted a more rhyme-intensive style on Renegade. Jay, as good as he is, is a notorious biter.  But surely he wouldn’t bite someone’s style on the SAME track and get away with it, right?  Even more so, this style biting surely can’t be measurable?  Well, let’s take a look at their respective production on this track.

Both go 36 bars on this track with Eminem using slightly longer words on average.  However, Jay-Z posted a rhyme density of 0.44 on this song.  To put this in perspective it’s the highest rhyme density score on Blueprint by quite a large margin and only 22 Two’s on Reasonable Doubt has a higher score (mostly due to the word repetition inflating the rhyme score).  What does this all mean?  Well for one, Eminem DID outrhyme Jay-Z on this song.  However, Eminem averaged almost 15 syllables per line and just wasn’t as clever or interesting on this song.  Jay packed much more relevant content while flexing rhyming muscles he hasn’t shown often.  Did he bite Em’s style or did he just realize that he was going to have to come incredibly efficient on a song next to Marshall?  I don’t know.  I can’t measure that.


4 thoughts on “Arguments on the Block: Who got Who on Renegade?

  1. Personally, I though Em was much more interesting, especially with the wordplay. He came with some crazy shit, I thought. But, I spose it all depends on the listener, really.

  2. nuthinbutaGthang says:

    The only thing interesting about Em’s verse is that he’s capable of running the cossonant “oo” sound into the ground. When you get past the smoke and mirrors of Em’s verses, this is perhaps one of the most overrated verses of his career. Basically, what he was saying can be reduced to “You see me as an abomination, well I AM. But hold on, let the people decide who I am instead! And if you don’t like me, well…screw you.” Outside of his lines about people who criticize his drug use and marital issues, he misses a golden opportunity to truly stick it to his critics, or at least help them understand his story.

    Jay packed much more content into his bars, all while nearly matching Em’s rhyme density (and going off the top of his head, to boot) and showing subtext, introspection, social awareness, and storytelling that he doesn’t display all the time. He doesn’t rap to rhyme, he raps with a purpose – to be a spokesperson for others like him in hip-hop and a voice for those living in the ghettos and inner-cities.

  3. John FP says:

    This is a joke, right? Jay was more interesting than Em? Jay basically said “Oh, people think I only rap about material possessions” and then listed off bad situations that have happened in the hood since the 80s. Em addressed the much more current state of his image/reputation while also dissing Jay on his own track subliminally. NaS pointed this out on Ether, by the way.

  4. Eric Shipton says:

    how about the fact it was originally a bad meets evil track and jay z re-recorded over 59s part and hov was clearly giving it 100% trying to out rap ems verse which stayed untouched except for vocal scratchin “He’s royce he’s the king of detroit…” if you expected the two to have any sort of coherent topic that was left solely on hov. which i think when we consider it was a pre-recorded song called RENEGADE and ems entire half if pretty much talking along the lines of how he is *gasp!* a renegade id say he was pretty topical. and he was still technically more difficult but i suppose jay z gave it his best effort

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