“Twitter Fingers Turn to Booty Fingers”
To those who are not attached to social media or the media in general, Wiz Khalifa had tweeted at Kanye West claiming that his newly titled album “Waves” is named after a movement originally created by rapper Max B, and felt that Kanye should pay homage. In the same day, Wiz tweeted “hit some KK and become yourself”. That’s where all hell broke loose as Kanye took it as a cheap shot toward his wife, Kim Kardashian, not knowing that Wiz was referring to his strain of bud Khalifa Kush, named after the rapper himself. In the midst of this Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa Twitter frenzy, I found myself thinking “is this a rap beef nowadays?”
As a huge fan of hip hop, I personally don’t think so. Rap beefs to me are all about settling an argument with another rapper via a diss track, or a published article in a reputable hip hop magazine such as VIBE, XXL, The Source, etc. That way, nothing can get deleted; you get your point across through your music instead of through social media, and in my opinion get more respect from the hip hop community. Sure, B.I.G and Tupac didn’t have Twitter or Facebook back in the day, but I doubt they’d result to taking their frustrations out on there instead of coming up with a record that would inevitably put the argument to rest. That being said, I’d like to take a look at some of hip hop’s most popular beefs (WARNING: this is actual rap, not today’s nonsense).
Boogie Down Productions vs. Juice Crew
In order to understand what actual beef is, you have to start with one of the first beefs in rap history. The year was 1985, where rap was still coming up in the music industry and even the smallest of claims resulted in a reaction from another rapper. This occurred when the Juice Crew released a track entitled “The Bridge”, a song that Juice Crew member MC Shan claimed was about the creation of his group. Meanwhile, KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions saw it as the Juice Crew claiming that hip hop originated in Queens, and not their borough of Brooklyn. BDP released “South Bronx” as a response to “The Bridge”. MC Shan fired back with a track called “Kill That Noise” which led to the end of the beef as BDP dropped “The Bridge Is Over”, a track well known to the hip hop community as one of the first diss tracks to totally shut down a beef, and eventually MC Shan and the Juice Crew’s careers. No hashtags, no emoji’s, just lyrics and beats.
NWA vs. Ice Cube
NWA was one of the biggest groups to revolutionize hip hop, with their Raiders apparel, guns, and straight up “fuck you” attitude, gangster rap became a phenomenon. At the time, however, the group had signed a shitty deal, which made it so that the “leader” of NWA Easy E and NWA’s manager Jerry Hiller took a good percentage of the money. Seeing as Ice Cube wrote over half of the lyrics for the Straight Outta Compton album, he decided to leave NWA and pursue a solo career. NWA decided to make a track “Real Niggaz” where each remaining member took shots at Ice Cube. In the end, Cube had the last laugh, and probably the best diss record of hip hop by responding with “No Vaseline”. If you were too young to have been around when it happened (like myself), the movie Straight Outta Compton does the story justice, as it’s co-signed by all the members of NWA, including Cube.
50 Cent vs. Ja Rule
50 Cent began his career by going at every popular rapper at the time in his track “How to Rob”. Even though the song is aimed at a variety of artists, the one that he had the biggest and most well-known beef with was with rapper Ja Rule of Murder Inc. The beef allegedly began after one of 50’s crew members tried to rob Ja of his chain, which led to 50 getting stabbed up in New York’s club Hit Factory. After the assault, 50 came out with tracks such as “Life’s on the Line”, “I Smell Pussy”, and “Wantsta”. Ja tried to respond with his track “Blood in My Eye” but didn’t have the same impact as 50’s tracks. As a last resort, Murder Inc. shot up 50’s reps office, which resulted in their whole crew getting ran out of the 106 & Park Studios. Since then, Ja Rule went from number one to Now That’s What I Call Music, and 50 Cent went on to make a few albums (besides the Beg For Mercy album, I thought they sucked).
Nas vs. Jay-Z
Two of the greatest MC’s of all time, Nas & Jay-Z, had a pretty notable beef, which ironically wasn’t even by either rapper. Roc-A-Fella rapper Memphis Bleek’s track “My Mind Right” had some lines that seemed to be directed at Nas, who responded with tracks on mixtapes that had lyrics aimed at both Memphis Bleek AND Jay-Z. Naturally, Jay-Z made “The Takeover”, where he took the time to diss every album Nas had come out with at the time. Nas then dropped “Ether”, another track that could go down as the ultimate breaks on a beef. Jay dropped “Supa Ugly” where he said that he had been sleeping with Nas’ baby mom. After “Ether” was claimed the winner, Jay had apologized for going too far, and the two rappers have collaborated and been friends since.
Biggie vs. Tupac
Finally, you can’t talk beefs in hip hop without discussing the biggest, yet saddest rap beefs of all time. In the early to mid-90’s, at hip hop’s golden age, Biggie and Tupac had the rap game in the palm of their hands and also the ears of every fan from both the East and West coasts. The two started out as friends but later turned enemies after Tupac was shot while leaving Quad Studios. Shortly after that, Biggie dropped “Who Shot Ya?” which led everyone, including Tupac to believe that B.I.G had some involvement in his shooting. Tupac came out with “Hit Em’ Up” which opens with “that’s why I fucked your bitch, you fat motherfucker” which clearly was a shot at Big. This beef caused a “war” between the East and West coasts, both taking the sides of their rapper respectively. Unfortunately, this beef resulted in the death of Tupac in 1996, and Biggie’s death coming six months later.
“Think Before You Meek”
All these rap beefs all have one thing in common: when one rapper had a problem with another, instead of relying on the cleverness of a tweet or the reaction of an Instagram post, they fought through their music (and in some cases, in real life). Drake’s “Back to Back” is the closest thing I can think of that would constitute an actual beef nowadays, even though that too was weak. So before you assume that when rappers butt heads on social media is beef instead of them creating a track to humble their opponent, in the words of Ice Cube: “Check yo self before you wreck yo self”.