chapter  8
19 Pages

Rap as Ragnarök

Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and the value of competition

Christopher M. Driscoll’s “Rap as Ragnarök: Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and the Value of Competition,” offers comparative analysis of artistic references to greatness (e.g., “gods” and G.O.A.T. [Greatest of All Time]) and broader cultural references made about Lamar and Eminem. Looking specifically to the respect garnered by Lamar through his verses on the 2013 Jay Rock track “Control” and the 2013 BET Cipher, alongside Eminem’s 2013 self-ascription as “Rap God,” Driscoll’s chapter suggests that between self-proclamation and external praise, Lamar and Eminem represent more fundamental social and cultural forces. Driscoll makes use of the work of anthropologist Arjun Appadurai alongside social theorist Bruce Lincoln and historian of religions Charles Long while also providing ethnographic data gleaned from online sources, including YouTube and Genius.com. Through the comparison of Lamar and Eminem, Driscoll offers a snapshot of how social value is adjudicated through rhetorical appeals to authority that take place among artists and fans, alike.