I don’t usually do this, but I’ve just been so darn perturbed by “Opportunity Knocks” by Nick Javas since the first time I heard it. Here’s why:
Javas’ opening verse reveals that he has been compared to Eminem. First of all, can you imagine how many other white rappers have been compared (without proper reason) to Eminem? Heck, Asher Roth even beat you to it. I can’t quite tell if the MC appreciates or dismisses the concept (or both):
Thank you, for real, but you gotta be kidding, compare me to Mr. Mathers,
See I know I showed talent and potential but so did Hank Gathers.
Complete with an obscure reference to a rising college basketball player who died mid-game, Javas’ treatment of the topic leaves me unsure of whether he denounces the comparison due to a lack of talent (why would you do that in your own song?), disagrees with the comparison altogether, or something completely different that I fail to recognize. Hopefully, he means “I’m good, but not that good,” but I’m just not sure. The comparison should be viewed as a compliment—like him or not, Eminem deflated racial stereotypes in hip-hop and earned ubiquitous respect among the genre, practically paving the way for white rappers to be taken seriously in the future—and I’m nervous by Javas’ unclear acknowledgement of this honor.
But what irks me more is that after all this ambiguity, the rapper proceeds to bite Eminem throughout the song. And I’m not just talking about style. Let’s compare some of Javas’ lyrics with some curiously similar lines from Eminem tracks:
Javas: Whoever thought a Bic and a pad that’s a quarter inch thick
could be deadly when mixed in a medley with Nick?
“Who Knew”: “Wasn’t me, Slim Shady said to do it again!”
Damn! How much damage can you do with a pen?
Javas: Never forget it cause it will be repetted,
oops I mean repeated, however never defeated.
“Kill You”: …this eighty G’s a week to say the same things TWEECE!
TWICE? Whatever, I hate these things.
I realize these aren’t complete rip-offs, and readers are likely to cite some Biggie to Jay-Z lyrics that are way worse (another debate entirely), but coupled with his delivery, these examples are strikingly Eminesque (you like that?). The way he says “Alright, alright, alright, alright, now let me calm down” in the beginning of the second verse is so reminiscent of Em’s conversational approach and style that I had to comb the Shady discography just to make sure it wasn’t plagiarized.
Truthfully, Javas’ flow and lyricism are enjoyable. The dynamic he creates with DJ Premier (should we give Prem the credit here?) is enticing and well-executed. What I’m getting at with the Eminem stuff is that if you’re compared to a legend, embrace it—don’t bring it up, shy away from it, and then demonstrate his influence on you throughout the track. It’s just weird. You’re better than that, Nick.