Eminem would win in a rap battle against Kanye West
To those that don't really know much about either, this question might not have as obvious an answer as people think.
Often in a rap battle, there is no prep time, and everything is a freestyle. Meaning you have split seconds to decide what you should say next. Eminem has many advantages over Kanye West that suggests he would win in this hypothetical rap battle.
Experience in Battle Rapping- Advantage Eminem
One of Eminem's strongest talents is battle rapping. This is how he was discovered. He battle rapped his way to a record deal.
Jimmy Iovine, CEO of Interscope Records, requested a demo tape of Eminem's after he placed second at the 1997 Rap Olympics (freestyle competition). Eminem had also won Wake Up Show's "Freestyle Performer of the Year" award, helping him acquire a record deal.
Kanye West on the other hand, first became known as a producer. His talent is putting together tracks that sound amazing. Only later did he become a 'studio rapper'. A studio rapper is what I call someone who needs a paper, pen, and preperation to tell a story through their raps. Because of the prep time needed to produce studio songs, comparing quality of rap songs between the two is largely irrelevant when trying to determine who would win a rap battle.
This should be enough to end the debate, but I will continue..
Lyricist- Advantage Eminem
Eminem is a pure lyricist. If you can ignore all the controversy and sometimes grotesque imagery, no one can really deny that he is a genius of a wordsmith. Eminem grew up perfecting his ability to rhyme (he was publicly free-styling at 14 years old). Half of what it takes to win a rap battle is how well you can rhyme, and In my opinion, Eminem spends most of his time worrying about the words, and Kanye spends most of his time worrying about the music.
Likability over Kanye West – Advantage Eminem
The other half of what it takes to win a rap battle is how well you can win over a crowd. If this is a street rap battle (as opposed to a structured competition), the crowd determines the winner, and I'm sure we can all agree that Kanye West is (perceived to be) kind of a jackass.
None of this is an argument that Eminem is a better rap artist. It is simply that he is a better battle rapper.
To put it into perspective, Tupac Shakur, who many consider the greatest rap artist of all time (I especially hold this view), was most known as a studio rapper. Even though he was a good free-style rapper, he didn't often engage in rap battles, and I grudgingly admit that there are plenty of rappers that could beat him in a freestyle competition.