In a 2003 interview, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney was asked if there was a figure in popular culture who encouraged interest in poetry and literature in the same way that Bob Dylan and John Lennon had done during the '60s and '70s.
Heaney, an Irish author with a cultish following of his own, had an immediate answer: Eminem.
Heaney's praise for 8 Mile's pill-popping provocateur caused a
minor splash across the Atlantic. But in truth, drawing comparisons
between literary figures and rappers -- between the "high" culture of
prose and the "low" culture of microphones -- is a favorite pastime of
certain pipe-puffing circles of academia.
Flavorwire has taken academia's pastime a step further with "Famous Rappers and their 20th Century Literary Counterparts," a list that pontificates on -- you guessed it -- rappers and their 20th century literary counterparts.
We thought we'd toss out a few comparisons of our own. And who better than hometown heroes Mac Lethal and Tech N9ne?
Tech N9ne and Edgar Allan Poe. Of course, Poe never had face-painted Juggalos tracking him throughout the country, but Poe and Tech have a lot in common. Both artists revel in the offbeat and oddball, fashioning verses from the dark vault of the occult. Here's Tech at the Gathering of the Juggalos in 2010:
Mac Lethal and Walt Whitman. Walt's blank verse, like Mac's guttural freestyles, were written with a firm middle finger turned toward the literary establishment. And Walt, like Mac, was a man of the people. Mac's smart-assed odes to beer-drinking and bitches aren't too far from the bodies that Walt sang electric. No one, to our knowledge, has called Mac an "exceeding stench," as fascist ninny and poet Ezra Pound once called Whitman, but it's a title that Mac would probably wear with ironic pride.
Here's a recent track from Mac on the Blood in the Water mixtape with DJ Sku.