“Drug dealer buys Jordans/crackhead buys crack/and a white man gets paid off of all of that ” – “All Falls Down” – Kanye West
It started off as a couple of disses being traded back and forth across the ‘net between rival Hip-Hop labels, but the conflict quickly escalated as rappers on both sides tried to prove who were the real killas and who were the fake gangstas. The contest ended in a draw, as the beef left dead bodies on both sides. The only real winners were the billionaire label owners who made a fortune selling greatest hits CDs, and the kids on the block hawkin’ bootleg T-shirts with pictures of dead rappers on the front and “EXODUS 1:10” on the back…
Last week, while the rest of the country was dealing with issues like the upcoming election, student loan interest rates and the economy, the biggest news in Hip-Hop was, yet, another rap beef.
A few days ago, Pusha T, former member of The Clipse, the group that took Crack music to a whole ‘nother level with songs like “Grindin’,” a decade ago, released a diss track presumed to be aimed at Lil Wayne called “EXODUS 23:1.” The track is seen by many as a prelude to a war between Pusha’s label, G.O.O.D. Music, and Drake and the homies of Young Money/Cash Money Billionaires.
However, what was interesting was when the diss hit the ‘net, it wound up being the tweet heard ’round the world as EXODUS 23:1 suddenly became a trending topic, sending millions of wanna-be gangstas scrambling to grab Grandma’s Good Book to peep what the Creator of the Universe said about the G.O.O.D. Music/YMCMB beef.
The tweets also caught the attention of mainstream media websites, as CNN and Time Magazine rushed to put out stories about a rapper who few of their readers knew existed. Now, Pusha was not the first artist to use scripture passages to go in on rival rappers, (Remember Pac’s “Hail Mary”?) but that was before Twitter. So, he was the first to make a Biblically-based rap attack go viral. I guess this is a moment in Hip-Hop history of which we can all be proud.
But we have to ask ourselves, are the decision makers who revere CNN like the Bible and who control the flow of education dollars to “inner city schools” or pass legislation regarding criminal sentencing laws, really looking at this beef as “a couple of creative geniuses just expressing their remarkable talents?” Or are they looking at it more like a bunch of trained circus monkeys that somebody taught to beat box? My money is on the latter.
When I first saw the title of the song, I admit, I thought the industry was finally going to be exposed on some deep metaphysical, esoteric level by one of its insiders who was going to use Biblical references to validate A Tribe Called Quest’s Industry “Rule #4080” that “record company people are shady.” Or maybe even prove that the Hip-Hop conspiracy theorists were right, and there was really only one major record label controlling Hip-Hop and the Anti-Christ was the CEO.
No such luck. Just some more ‘hood drama.
The beef is just the continuation of rap fratricide that has plagued the culture since the mid-‘90s. No matter how many deaths and prison sentences happen in Hip-Hop, the glorification of beefs remains constant. Sure, there is always the brief period when the Hip-Hop community signs a peace treaty and rappers come together at some meeting and promise that they will be more civilized with their lyrics but a few months later, it’s back to the ol’ standard “ooooh, did you hear how so -and- so dissed…?”
The cycle of insanity continues.
Besides being a way for record labels to make money off the self-hatred that is destroying the Black community, it also serves as a necessary distraction from the real issues that should be of utmost importance to this generation. The beef is just another exercise in displaced aggression, where the proverbial “Menace to Society” becomes the next young, Black man instead of the corporate bloodsuckers who are draining the life force from Hip-Hop.
Even Pusha T hints at the fact that rappers are being played like puppets when he talks about on EXODUS 23:1, how it’s bad luck when an artist is signed to multiple record deals and the man at the top of the totem pole is always going to be the head of one of the three major record labels. (Sometimes you gotta read between the lines.)
Also, we have to call the propagation of Black-on-Black violence, what it is – corporate-sponsored population control. This has been the standard of operation in dealing with Black people since the enslavement and colonization of Africa when the European exploiters used to give both sides of a conflict weapons and wait for them to kill each other off.
During the Hip-Hop Era, the late author Gary Webb suggested in Dark Alliance that the high-powered assault weapons and the crack in the ‘hood may have been government sponsored. So, it is not far fetched to believe that some rich dudes are not only funding both sides of Hip-Hop beefs, but maybe even supplying guns to both sides of the gang wars.
History teaches that’s how the ruling elite have always gotten down. Remember in None Dare Call It Conspiracy, Garry Allen claims that some “international bankers” funded both sides of the Civil War. If they would do that to thousands of “good ol’ patriotic soldiers dying for their political beliefs,” what do you think they would do to a bunch of disposable, street thugs killing over bandannas and street corners?
Now, I know some of ya’ll are going to say it’s just entertainment, and “it ain’t all that deep.” But some of us refuse to swim in the shallow end of the pool of life.
Like Hip-Hop artist, Dee-1, said on “Jay, 50 and Weezy,” “Entertainment is what it seems/ but Black on Black hatred/ is the underlyin’ theme.”
And that’s word-to-tha JOHN 8:32.
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is This Ain’t Hip Hop, a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on his website, www.NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).