Fat Joe and Papoose may hold Melle Mel in high regard, but they don’t agree with his recent criticism of Eminem.

The Furious Five MC questioned Slim Shady’s No. 5 ranking on Billboard’s Top 50 Greatest Rappers of All Time list during an interview with The Art of Dialogue last week, arguing he’s only considered a top-tier rapper because he’s white.

“Obviously, he’s a capable rapper. If you was talking about sales, he’s sold more than everybody. If you talking about rhyme style, okay, he got a rhyme style,” Melle Mel said. “But he’s white!

“If Eminem was just another n-gga like all the rest of us, would he be top five on that list, when a n-gga that can rhyme just as good as him is [number] 35? … If he was a Black rapper, he wouldn’t even make the list probably.”

Chewing over his comments on Instagram Live on Monday (March 6), Joey Crack and Papoose respectfully disagreed with Melle Mel, claiming that Eminem’s lyrical talents are undisputed, regardless of his race.

“I disagree with that because even though Eminem is Caucasian, you cannot front on his skillset, man. You can’t deny that skillset!” Pap said, to which Joe replied: “No way.”

“As much as I love and worship Melle Mel, I think he’s wrong with this one,” the Terror Squad leader added.

Despite their difference of opinion, Papoose and Fat Joe made sure to give Melle Mel his flowers, saluting him for being a Hip Hop pioneer.

“Listen, I love Melle Mel. He’s the originator of his style. He’s amazing, lyrically. I still listen to ‘The Message.’ And I know Melle Mel!” Papoose said. “I look up to him, man. He’s a legend. I could go on and on about the respect that I have for him.”

Joe added: “He’s probably my icon. He’s one of my Top 10.”

However, Papoose reaffirmed his belief that Eminem belongs in the upper echelon of rap greats, saying: “Lyrically, dudes are still not touching [Melle Mel]. But honestly, that skillset that that boy Slim Shady got, you can’t — nah, man.”

Fat Joe and Papoose are from the only figures to have reacted to Melle Mel’s controversial comments. Eminem’s close friend, 50 Cent, issued a less diplomatic response on Instagram this past weekend, telling his Hip Hop forefather to get the “fuck outta here.”

“There was more money selling dope than being in Hip Hop when Melly [sic] Mel was popping, the culture has grown so much,” 50 wrote in a since-deleted post. “I am not sure if it would be what it is today with out artist like Eminem.”

He added: “Shit I am not sure I would be who I am with out him but you know it is competitive so n-ggas gonna hate. LOL fuck outta here ! We sucker free.”

Chuck D, meanwhile, defended Melle Mel from the backlash by providing a little more context to his comments for younger listeners.

“Understand Melle Mel was so dominant over the rest of the pack in the first 5 years of records its hard to comprehend for born after MC folk,” the Public Enemy legend tweeted. “Its why i call him Wilt Chamberlain and Wilt had a crate of critiques for the rappers after him including ME. Just Let Mel be Wilt lol.”

Eminem has yet to respond to Melle Mel’s remarks himself, although he did shout out the “Message” rapper as one of his musical influences while being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year.

Em’s sprawling speech also showed love to 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, LL COOL J, KRS-One, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Wu-Tang Clan, OutKast, A Tribe Called Quest and many more.

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