‘They’re about to set it off like Vivica.’
There are few things in Hip Hop as gratifying as a good rap feud. Sides are picked, lines in the sand are drawn and if you’re lucky people debate line for line who won and why. Rap feuds are as much a part of Hip Hop as Break Dancing and Graffiti and every now and then two titans at the top of their game go for each others necks lyrically, in an effort to claim dominance in the eye of the general public. This is NOT one of those times.
While Common paid dues in the battle arena years back with his Ice Cube Diss ‘The Bitch In Yoo’, nowadays he’s more known for his acting than music. Meanwhile former actor Drake is known more for his music, albeit his is the type of music men cry themselves to sleep with wondering where it all went wrong. As a matter of fact if Biggie were alive to rewrite the classic ‘What’s Beef’ to suit this conflict it might go something like…
“What’s Beef? Beef is when I need thousand count threaded sheets/ When I need Sephora scrub to exfoliate to my cheeks/ Beef is when I see you/ wearing the same exact pleated suit.”
I’m not mad at this at all. Might be fun to see if Common can still bring it, and Hopefully Drake will Ja Rule himself and I won’t have to hear him literally every 3 songs on my Hot 97 everyday that’s my word! However Hip Hop’s latest
Pillow Fight Rap Feud reminded me of some of the more explosive feuds in history.
1. Jay-z Vs. Nas
Any write up about rap battles will always mention Big vs Pac. And while lyrically that was the battle to end them all, the off wax outcome is something no one ever wishes to see again. Besides so much has been said about that battle that kids know Hit Em Up verbatim before their ABC’s so I’ll mention them honorably. Almost as surely mentioned as Big vs Pac is the clash between two of the biggest the game has ever seen. Jay vs Nas.
The Origin: When this battle popped off it seemed as if it were brewing for years. With rumors saying Jay was indeed a Nas stan and wanted on “every last one” of his classics. Subtle jabs were thrown way back from Nas’ 3rd album ‘I Am’ during his Biggie tribute ‘We Will Survive’ where he called out Jay for saying he was the King of NY, a spot Biggie previously held without question. The barbs flew unchecked for 2 years until Jay-z’s infamous “Ask Nas he don’t want it with Hov NOOOO” Summer Jam shot heard round the world. That prompted Nas to release this freestyle.
This was after Nas was relatively quiet musically after his Nastradamus album tanked. Jay responded with Takeover, the 2nd track off his Opus “The Blueprint”.
Takeover was in essence the PERFECT diss record. Jay methodically and effortlessly addressed everything Nas said and then some. The confidence in his delivery and replay value on damn near every line… was incredible. I remember one Sony exec commenting that Nas should cut Jay a check because he made him relevant again. It was true. For months people stood by waiting to see how Nas would respond. I remember when “Got yourself (A gun)” dropped as the first single off Stillmatic. People speculated whether or not it was the Nas response, some felt it was… others seem dissatisfied by it and yet more people held out hope that this was a warm up.
And then there was Ether
The City Went NUTS! Jay vs Nas, Brooklyn Vs Queens, The Hustler vs The Poet. No one was safe at this point. There was speculation that this wasn’t the first version of Ether either. Supposedly a more volatile track referencing an alleged Jay-Z Big Pun incident existed, but Nas opted for Ether lite if you can imagine that. Unlike Nas taking 3 months to reply, Jay dropped his response Super Ugly in what seemed like less than 12 hours.
This was a grimy ass no holds barred record. Kids were mentioned… condoms on baby seats (no Chris Hansen). As Jay said the gloves were off and the love was done. Hot 97 most notably took to the airwaves and streets in an effort to declare a winner. Fans and celebs alike chimed in, one of the most vocal was NYC DJ Kay Slay who insisted rap feuds should have the same basic principles as a Scarface assassination attempt. No Women… No Kids! Comparing Super Ugly to Ether wasn’t even fair and the people thereby crowned Nas the victor. What made matters worse is Jay appeared very emotional on the radio following the release of Super Ugly. With the polish off his veneer he seemed vulnerable and that is why when someone obliterates someone else verbally it is known as getting Ethered.
The Outcome: The Source in it’s last few breaths of relevancy gave ‘The Blueprint’ a 5 mic rating back when mics meant something. So everyone waited to see what ‘Stillmatic’, the Nas album that featured Ether, got rated. The Source copped out and gave it 5 mics as well. Was ‘Stillmatic’ solid? Certainly. Was it as good as ‘The Blueprint’ No where near. So Nas won the battle, but eventually lost the war. Jay released the Blueprint 2 and the title track ‘Blueprint 2′ should have been the true response to Ether.
You hear the angst, lament, disappointment and determination to get his percieved top spot back in his voice. Everything that was stated in ‘Blueprint 2′ came to pass… “I wont rest till you on one knee”, Welp when Jay became Def Jam president… HE SIGNED NAS. Check and Mate my friend.
2. L.L. Cool J Vs. Canibus
L.L. was involved in some of the greatest battles of all time as Canibus would remind us in his one hit ’2nd Round Knockout’. “From Ice T to Kool Moe Dee to Jay Z”, Although the battle with Jigga was said to have happened behind the scenes. However it would take the upstart emcee to really give Mr. Smith a run for his money.
The Origin: Canibus had been asked to appear on a remix of L.L.’s song called 4,3,2,1 and Canibus had made a reference to the Mic tattoo L.L. has on his arm. For some reason L.L. felt disrespected and changed his verse to put Canibus in his place. This was after Canibus agreed to change his lyrics as per L.L.’s wishes. Canibus obviously felt slighted and responded with the eviscerating ’2nd Round K.O.’
This track was beastly, I mean it even featured a then still scary Mike Tyson. Prior to this people would say Canibus might be the second coming of Rakim, formerly an accolade referenced when mentioning Nas. All those comparisons ended however after L.L. released ‘Ripper Strikes Back’
The Outcome: L.L. held his own against ’2nd Round Knockout’ and depending who you ask he won based off lyrics alone. He even threw shots at Wyclef and Tyson. While who won lyrically is up for debate, the fact that L.L. destroyed Canibus’ career behind the scenes shows that taking on a legend as an up and comer might not be your best move. All the Canibus features stopped and no one was checking for him anymore. Bis said it best… “Watch who you beef wid”
3. Eminem Vs. Benzino
I couldn’t help it.
Most of you might be wondering who Benzino is… and no one would blame you. Mostly known for being half of the team behind Hip Hop bible The Source, namely the half that extorts the other half, Zino was also part of rap group The Almighty RSO. To call this a battle is unfair to all those who engaged in the art of battling. This was more like a Benzino brought a knife to a gun fight.
The Origin: Benzino had a problem with Eminem being white and repping Hip Hop, neglecting the fact that Benzino himself is half white. Maybe he was half upset. This also explains why Zino was fond of 50 cent. Zino went on to dig in The Source coffers and scrounged up enough money to find a recording of a young Marshall Mathers using the dreaded N word! in a freestyle. He tried the whole political angle and it didn’t work. Not to mention driving the biggest magazine draw in your field directly to the arms of your number one competitor. Not exactly business savvy.While there is little to post from Zino lyrically I will post both Eminem songs as they are hilarious and on point respectively.
The Outcome: With Eminem being as vicious a battle rapper as he is I was hoping one day he’d get into it with a fellow lyricist. Instead he eventually dropped a track dissing Mariah Carey. The Source slowly fell off… XXL became the biggest Hip Hop mag for a while, Benzino released a video of himself eating a strippers ass in a hot tub full of dirty water (no… seriously) and Eminem went on to sell a few more records.
This battle was short lived, but produced the most slept on underrated diss track in rap history.
The Origin: 50 Cent didn’t like Ja rule who did a song with Fat Joe and Jadakiss. So 50 Cent attacked them. Simple enough… he got at everyone anyway.
Jadakiss, the Lox’ premiere wordsmith and most recognizable talent, took this as a chance to showcase himself to potentially a larger fanbase. Even referencing 50 Cent selling 1.1 million records in less than a week. He crafted a punishing diss track that should be studied by emcees who attempt to go this route.
The Outcome: While Jada won, no one cared. No one really paid this much attention, at least outside of the NYC area. Maybe if blogs were as prevalent as they are today it would be a different story. In the end Jada and 50 made up and yadda yadda yadda. That Jada track is still brutal.
‘Whenever I hear the word Juice I think of Join Us In Creating Excitement. Smh’
More like KRS1 vs Mc Shan, This battle became one of the most important battles of all time. A misunderstanding, misconstrued lyrics and a hungry emcee determined to prove himself.
The Origin: KRS1 and his partner Scott La Rock brought a record to famed DJ Mr. Magic. KRS1 thinks Mr. Magic said his record was wack. KRS1 sees the artist du jour and says “Nah HE’S Wack”… not to mention KRS1 interpeted the lyrics to MC Shan’s song ‘The Bridge’ to state that Hip Hop started in Queensbridge when all Shan intended was to say how it started for them personally… Battle ensues.
Even though this track wasn’t a diss, it was the inciting incident that set everything off.
And the response was a track so classic that anyone born in that era knows it instinctively.
The Outcome: Hip Hop history hath been made.
And there you have a take on a few classic battles. This Drake Common thing will probably meander into obscurity soon enough, but it’s fun to think we might get shocked by the lyrical onslaught of Canada Dry.