I remember when I was younger and, as most white youths who enjoy basketball but live in rural areas, very much into the rap game.
One of the things that really interested me about the music was the way that rappers would start “beef” with one another. My fandom began a few years after both Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur had been gunned down, likely as a result of their very severe disagreements that seemed to me to be mostly about geographical location.
I guess people would say those two shootings were the tragic peak of the rapper feud motif, but when I was growing up the feuds still existed in earnest, albeit very rarely with actual violence.
Basically, rappers would spit mean things about another rapper they had decided for some reason or another to despise in a big way. I suppose these feuds existed partially because it was somehow good for public relations and record sales, but also because these guys really did dislike one another.
I think for me the most intense and vaguely humorous feuds of my childhood took place between Eminem, 50 Cent and G-Unit and Ja Rule’s group of rapper friends. They would—in extremely vulgar fashion—call one another out on being pussies, make jokes about the women they banged, and just basically make fun of their opponents.
Eminem was extremely talented at this. It was hilarious to hear the things he would say about people he didn’t like. He was just classically great at making fun of people. He wasn’t a bully, he was just better than anyone who tried to rip on him.
Feuds have continued sporadically into 2014, but they have become sort of a parody of themselves and what they once were.
I’m not sure precisely when it happened, but at some point rappers became gigantic pussies. It’s not like I want them to murder each other or even rap about murdering each other or anything. I just want these feuds to be entertaining, especially if they’re going to be such a publicized thing.
You’re probably read about the latest beef which pits Jay-Z against Drake.
It started this year when Drake told Rolling Stone that “It’s like Hov can’t drop bars these days without at least four art references. I would love to collect at some point, but I think the whole rap/art world thing is getting kind of corny.”
Drake is right, but that seems like as absurd a thing to call someone out on as it is absurd that Jay-Z so frequently raps about art and clothing and high-culture stuff.
It’s especially absurd because the vast majority of what Drake raps about seems very fraudulent. He’s tried unwaveringly through his lyrics to position himself as a pretty gangster type of guy who made it in the rap game on his own merit. He loves to portray himself as an underdog nobody believes in who comes from the hood and was on the Struggle Bus his entire life until he put out a mixtape.
But Drake was an actor on Degrassi. He’s been famous since he was a teen. There’s no way he would be where he is if not for his previous acting career.
Jay-Z fired back at Drake’s dig in a version of the song “We Made It,” where Hov in lackluster fashion defends his rapping about art because he is “rappin’ bout shit that I really bought, while these rappers rap about guns that they ain’t shot.”
Drake volleyed back during an interview at a Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets by saying that Jay-Z (who is kind of a Nets owner or whatever) was probably “somewhere eating a fondue plate.”
Almost immediately, Jay-Z talked shit on Drake in another song: DJ Khaled’s “They Don’t Love You No More.”
In the song, Jay-Z says “Haters wanna ball let me tighten up my drawstring, wrong sports boy, you know you soft as a lacrosse team.”
And that’s where we stand now. Rappers are talking shit on each other about art references, melted cheese consumption and goddamn lacrosse!
What in the f**k is going on here?
The rap feud is in a terrible, boring, self-fellating downslide. It’s become less like strong men hating on each other, and more like a bunch of b**chy women in the Upper East Side talking sh*t about friends behind their back while they’re at brunch with some other vapid women.
I fear that only The Game and T.I. can save us now. And that’s a really scary thought.