Generally speaking, commentary on the follies and foibles of rappers is best left for others. Those of us in an editorial position come too close to the subjects at hand and, in my opinion, actually share a mutual need with the artists we profile. To be heard.
But, as of late, I can’t seem to keep my own personal commentary at bay. You see, lately, well, there have been some major mis-steps in the community. Things like:
Bottles thrown during brawls over babes. Bustin’ off bullets at each other. Bangin’ like this is still 1993 in South Central or something. Oh, brother.
And this isn’t in the ‘hood! This is in the rap game!
I’m tired of beef. Actual beef – the meat – I gave up eating in 2000, and it’s been a good, 12-year long, clearer colon sort of ride. I highly suggest not eating it, or at least cutting back. But the other beef? Rap beef? I’m tired of that, too. Especially when it seems fruitless, especially to those of us who would pick beef as the absolute last thing on Earth we’d want if we had adoring fans, millions of dollars, and pretty much whatever toys we desired in life.
Still, in the midst of the opulence and blessings and fame, there’s time for people to reach into their literal “street bags” and possibly pull out literal weapons on one another. The incident in New York a few weeks ago, the strip club shooting in Houston after that, the Yo Gotti concert shooting, and back in March, when I saw more beef than enough as we all converged on SXSW – it was all baffling.
In the words of the Old Negro spiritual, with all of their wealth and impact on pop culture, haven’t rappers already “overcome?” So, what’s the beef about?
Now, let’s not get it twisted. I know men and their testosterone. Shoot, I know some women with too much testosterone. I understand fully that rap, from its very foundation, was built on competition and who’s better-than-who, and I actually love nothing more than a good lyrical lashing from one MC to another.
And, I like it even more when no one gets hurt in the end. Well, except for a bruised ego and a crushed reputation.
So, I ask, where the hell is the battle in rap anymore???
We’re seeing people like Canibus (who I really think a lot of as an artist overall) being pummeled in a Pay-Per-View battle by a relative no-name. We’re witnessing the era of sub-disses on songs and sub-tweets and Facebook arguments between rappers that have to be solved by $100-an-hour PR specialists and gangs of ex-bouncer bodyguards. We’re watching as people get hurt needlessly in the name of crew love and groupie love…and little love for Hip-Hop.
I want the battle back! I want mugs to keep it in the booth, and say recklessly clever and outrightly outlandish stuff back and forth to each other. And, they should fight it out by one-upping each other with wit, wordsmithing, and Wu-like weaponry. And when there is the threat of real trouble, someone like Rev. Al or Rev Run or Chuck D can help work it out.
And we, the listening audience, can be the judge of whose beef is bigger (whoa there). So, seriously, get your battle weight up, guys.
Lastly, to rap up my rant, we were in the AllHipHop offices last week, listening to an oldie-but-greatie from 1991 by Tim Dog (look him up, kiddies) called “F*ck Compton”. With his menacing look and booming voice, he was GOING IN MERCILESSLY on Compton and certain members of N.W.A. We sat in the office listening last week like, “Dayyyyyuuuummm! Now that’s beef.”
By today’s standards, that song could possibly cost him his life. But it didn’t. From what we heard, some people talked to some people who basically told Tim to chill – but no one died, and quite frankly, I think his opponents (who I love to this day) got fried with that song…
…in the booth. Where the battle reigns supreme, and no beef is allowed.
Seandra Sims is AllHipHop.com’s Editor-At-Large. She actually likes beef, but only in the right context. Follow her on Twitter (@SeandraSims).