Battling & Beefs: Competition in Hip Hop 2

Where do we go from here! The last in depth discussion we had about battling, beef, and competition was in 2014! But here we are in 2017 back at it again. Nicki Minaj, Remy Ma, and now Foxy Brown have all been in a battle royal for the top spot in Hip Hop. Just Blaze and Swizz Beats had an epic dee jay battle live on Instagram! They did it for the culture!! Once again there is enough room for everybody to get on but the culture of Hip Hop grew out of competition and each element has a competitive edge to it. Breakdance crews battled each other, emcees battle, graff writers battle, and so do dee jays. It’s all about respect and if you can’t break, rhyme, scratch, or bomb than there’s no way you can win. Winning a battle actually requires skill and talent. Whoever suggested to Remy that she should release another diss track was a bad move and whoever told Foxy to release a snippet was wrong on that one too. Hip Hop heads have always played chess so if you’re still playing checkers you need to take a seat.

Hip Hop evolves over time and that includes the battle Rap subculture which has also evolved. When MC Shan battled KRS-One there was no social media and internet was not a mainstream concept yet. So a response couldn’t be sent out through a link and immediately go around the world in seconds. Nas responded to Jay Z’s Takeover two months later; with two songs “back to back”, Got Urself a Gun and then Ether. In 2015 in Nas-like fashion Drake released two diss tracks but only because his initial track was wack. The Ja Rule beef with 50 Cent lasted for a few years and that was a real beef in the streets and on wax. In the 2017 mainstream Rap lane apparently you don’t have to reply when someone is directly addressing you. It seems as though you can just post a bunch of photos of yourself on social media and retweet your biased fans’ opinions.

Nicki Minaj is in a “Pop-Hop” purgatory where she thinks she’s to mainstream to go back to her underground roots to reply to a diss track but the foundation of rhyming that her career is built on is slowly crumbling beneath her. A true emcee is never comfortable and maintains a sharpened sword at all times. When I was younger I heard a lot of Rappers say that they have bars for every emcee in the game just in case a battle breaks out! You can never get comfortable in this culture of Hip Hop. As a graff writer there’s always another artist ready to write over your stuff. As a dee jay there’s always someone learning your style and watching how you work the turntables. As a breaker there is always a crew or an individual waiting in the wings to battle you at the drop of a beat. Hip Hop has always had a competitive edge but money has gotten in the way of that. Some Rappers don’t want to mess up “the bag” and get money with everybody. There’s nothing wrong with that but don’t be a fraud because you’re money hungry. Put the politics to the side and get with it! Stop punking out after you’ve had so much to say prior to getting bodied. If the executives weren’t behind the scenes controlling the strings I’m sure this exchange would have went a little differently. You are no competition if you’re not willing to compete or be competitive.

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