Friday, January 16, 2009

What's Beef?

"What's beef? Beef is when you need two gats to go to sleep. Beef is when your moms ain't safe up in the streets. Beef is when I see you, guaranteed to be in ICU." Could Biggie have said it any better? That my friends is beef, what happened to Biggie and Tupac (unfortunately) is beef. What is a battle? Unfortunately I'm not aware of a song that correctly describes a real hip hop beef because it seems most time, rap battles grow into rap beefs. So, I'll try my best to figure it out with this post, and with you guys help. I think as hip hop fans we tend to get the two misconscrued. A battle in hip hop is when you say "I think I'm better than you and I'm going to prove it, on wax, or through bars". A beef is "I don't like you and I want to beat you up, injure you severely and destroy your existense." The beautiful thing about hip hop is, you can combine the two and the end result can be a peaceful battle.

Obviously, we all know what Tupac and Biggie were engaged in a personal beef, which also involved a hip hop battle. What Saigon and Joe Budden are engaging in currently might as well be the same thing, to a lesser extent. However, with the way that this beef originally started, it showed promise that it would remain on wax. (I still don't understand why Saigon is so mad at the "I hit and run like Saigon" line from Joe Budden when Saigon says that is exactly what he did but whatever). Budden took a shot at Saigon and he became infuriated, but instead of responding in a song, Saigon goes on record to say, for about a year straight, that he will beat Joe Budden up, slice his Adam's apple and a lot of other exciting things that grown men like to say each other when they have a conflict. Couldn't most of these senseless beefs (Joe v. Saigon, Joe v. Ransom, Saigon v. Prodigy) be solved by simply calling the individual first and/or reaching out to them to get their side of the story? I don't think there is anything wrong with Budden calling out Saigon this time after Sai kept barking for so long, in fact, I think he wants to battle Saigon, not beef with him. He even said he reached out to him to do a song last year.

A perfect (recent) example of a rap "battle" is T.I. vs Ludacris. Someone give these men a standing ovation because they went through proper procedures the entire times they were battling. These two rappers initially went at each other because they had a competitive spirit. They are two of the best in the game, and two of the best in the south, so they had reason to take a few lyrical jabs at each other. These jabs came subliminally for a while until they finally collabed on each others respective albums in 2008. They had a enough respect for each other that they kept it on wax (despite T.I. punching Luda's manager at one point), kept it competitive and eventually reconciled to make GOOD music.

The great thing about what T.I. and Ludacris did is, they resolved any problems they might have had by spitting bars. Afrika Bambaataa's vision for hip hop many moons ago was to get kids out of gangs, off the streets and have them release their frustrations artistically. What's greater than two man resolving their conflicts by coming face to face to talk about their disagreements by rhyming words? I couldn't think of a more ingenious way to go about it. Unfortunately, the rappers of today seem to have forgetten that, YES, hip hop is just as much about battling as it is about being creative artistically but, NO, it is not about settling problems physically. If you plan on settling your problems with physical altercations your exploiting what the forefathers of hip hop had originally planned for it to be. With the release of Notorious today and Martin Luther King Jr. day being this Monday, we should be reminded more than ever that violence is never the answer. A beef can be resolved by a phone call, reaching out, a battle can be resolved by spitting bars.

I say all of this to say to Joe Budden and Saigon: Keep it on wax, make this an entertaining battle and hopefully one day, like Jay-Z and Nas or Luda and T.I., you guys can come together to make great music. You both are two of the best rappers out today, hands down, and this battle has the potential to be an epic one, if kept on a record.

"What's a battle? A battle is when two rappers settle a dispute with words. A battle is when two rappers might want to fight but keep it on wax despite the urge. A battle is better than beef, it's competitive and the end result should be peace." You can quote me on that...



  1. Keep it on suggestion to any rappers...great post bruh....

  2. Yeah, I feels ya on the fact that there ain't a rap song that accurately describes what a rap beef is. However, I do like Mos Def's "What' Beef?" track saying that rap beef is trivial compared to the drama going on elsewhere, sometimes even in our own backyard:

    Beef is real life happenin' every day/
    And it's realer than them songs you gave to Kay Slay/
    - Mos Def - "What's Beef?"

    I actually think the Jay-Z/Nas battle was a good rap beef, even though a few uncalled-for ines leaked out ("...left condoms in the baby seat/"). Still, in interviews, both MC's insisted this shit was just on wax... The same can't be said of most high-profile beefs we've seen in years past (i.e. The Game vs. G-Unit, Shady/Aftermath vs. Murder Inc., 50 Cent vs. Anybody who would listen, et al).

    Personally, there's nothing I enjoy more than a hard-hitting battle. I love it when rappers are forced to stay on their toes and come their hardest (that's what she said!) when they got their reps on the line in a battle atmosphere. If you think about it, alotta MCs' waning careers have been revived from battles in the past (Nas) and alotta other undeserving catz thankfully have been weeded out (Ja Rule). However, in today's dumbed-down + club-oriented hip-hop atmosphere, that competitiveness as been hella diluted and the art has suffered accordingly.

    Maybe it's only a matter of time before Canibus goes at Soulja Boy! :-D