Sunday, October 12, 2014

What Ever Happened to Rapper Beef?

Feuds are a staple of rap. Violence, boasts, and narcissism has historically lead to rappers beefing with other rappers. Beef came from competition, threats, and broken promises/misunderstandings. While it may seem like a hindrance, beef has historically produced gold. Nas and Jay-Z's beef gave birth to the best diss track ever, "Ether", followed by "The Bitch in Yoo", Common's diss to Ice Cube. Kanye West's feud with 50 Cent led to largely publicized album releases, which boosted both of their sales. And the beef between the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac epitomizes the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry of the 90's.

But where is beef now? Since Jay-Z and Nas squashed their beef in 2005, there seems to be little feuds of any importance. Of course, there are still vendettas between rappers, but this is often between less successful rappers vying for attention, or related to rival gang allegiances. Rappers today seem to be more eager to squash even rumored beefs, than to carry them on. There are few publicized feuds I can think of this year. Jay-Z (again) traded small-time shots at Drake for the past year, but it hasn't amounted to anything yet. Freddie Gibbs dropped "Real", which attacked his ex-labelmate Jeezy, but Jeezy downplayed and quite frankly squashed the beef with "Holy Ghost". The quasi-beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake (again) seemed to have the most potential, but it never really had much of a basis, and was mostly kept alive by the media. "Control" seemed like it could reignite feud-culture, but in my opinion didn't really create much change. The only people who responded were usually unknown rappers, and after about a month no one cared much about the verse. Also, Lamar wasn't really calling anyone out, since every single rapper he named he had previously worked with, and virtually all of them took no offense to the verse.

Many people cite the 1990's as the "golden age" of hip hop, partly due to the competitive nature of prevalent feuds. But the age of feuds seems to have ended, but I think a new era is upon us. Lately, the number of collaborative tracks, mixtapes, and albums has increased significantly. While feuds create rivalry that promotes more quality music, the absence of feuds allow for rappers to work together like never before. There seems to be very little regional conflict anymore, so you see rappers from the East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, and the South all working together, which hasn't happened on a large scale for years. And the sheer number of new rappers on their come up leads to increased competition. The rise of collaboration may lead to a whole new golden age of hip-hop.  

No comments:

Post a Comment