For the record I “knew” of McSkill before the beef, kinda through twitter, I was like who TF is this guy; thousands of followers(fake or otherwise), and i haven’t even listened to his music, so i set about, trying to “enlighten” myself, i checked iwantairplay.com, found his mixtape , downloaded all the tracks, but couldn’t really listen, his “80 Barz of Revelatioin” was the only track I completely listened to that i can remember, good stuff. Check out this article I got in my mail last nite. Written by @Soopafly_Blaise
“I meant to write this piece a while ago when an imminent air of hostility began to brew up between two rappers that I closely follow on twitter, but I guess they either rebutted my evil expectation or they must have met in a fancy lounge on Victoria Island and buried the hatchet over some bottles of moet & chandon probably paid for by the weaker link… But they chilled so I just put my writing utensils back in place n did same. Then came along A-Q guns blazing against an unknown dude who we now know as Mc Skill Tha Preacher(wouldn’t have know this fella existed without good ol beef yeah?). Diss tracks flew back and forth quicker than ethiopians chasing chicken…. drawing reactions from underground fans and vets like Cyrus and IllBliss.. So before that episode gets called off, here goes!
The word BEEF is undoubtedly one of the most familiar terms in hip hop culture and I solemnly tell you, its meaning goes nowhere close to steak. The term Beef is a representation of lyrical showdown between two emcees (or musicians as the case may be)aggravated by personal vendetta which if left to boil breeds thorough hostility between the two emcees till one of them is tongue lashed to submission, hence dealing a probable deathblow of his/her career. Beef is almost as old as hip hop itself, though in the early days of hip hop it might not have been referred to with that nickname. I do not need any permission to declare that the concept of beef is the only timeless concept in hip hop music, it has never gone out of vogue even for a minute, neither has it ever been absent at any stage whatsoever in the growth of the genre. we have seen fashion trends come and go, we’ve seen the auto-tune fad rise and fall ,we have even seen rappers shine and die but beef has never staled or gone out of fashion.
Sadly, the concept of beef and its magnanimous role in the rap game is seriously underrated, the importance of beef in the industry can never be overemphasized in a growing hip hop scene where survival is reserved for the wittiest of the crop. Feel free to quote me as I say beef is the truest test of skill, lyrical ability and most importantly the surest determinant factor of longevity which is in turn the yardstick for measuring greatness in hip hop music. Beef is war on wax and a brave victor is guaranteed a permanent spot not only in the hearts of the hip hop community but in the book of hip hop history at large. In 1992 when members the first gangster hip hop group known as NWA (ice cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy E) fell out with each other, their disintegration was followed by a series of bitter comments on tracks directed at each other but this war of words didn’t last for too long as both participants either relented or grew above it. Also in 1993 the greatest hip hop duo of all time comprising of god emcee Rakim and his childhood friend Eric who were logically named ERIC B & RAKIM grew bad blood due to financial misunderstandings, the both embarked on solo careers, took shots at each other on media links and a few songs but they failed to fuel the flame until it doused down naturally. The same lacklustre was showcased when Snoop Dogg fell out with his label Boss and mentor Dr.Dre in 1996 and also when Nas and his close friend Cormegga (of The firm) faced off in 1997 shortly before the release of their group’s debut album titled ‘the album’ which led to Cormegga being expunged from the group and replaced with ‘Nature’ who was fresh from the penitentiary. These instances highlighted above however do not qualify to be graced with the prestigious title of BEEF because they fell short of expectations in all ramifications. Take note, beef is not and should never be reduced to the scenario of a mere disagreement between two rappers, neither is it an indirect exchange of spiteful thoughts in-between deep lyrics without ‘piercing precision and strong consistency’.
Now lets talk about beef in proper its stance. Beef my friends, is when 2pac shakur moved from Brooklyn New York to Oakland,Los angeles California as a pre-war measure to wage a bloody lifelong vendetta against the undisputed King of New York the Notorious B.I.G a.K.a Biggie Smalls, beef is when Jay –Z took an aim for the most critically acclaimed, multi-platinum debut launcher and illest lyricist on the scene in the person of Nas in 2001, beef is when hip hop juggernaut Dr.Dre unleashed a white-headed newcomer named Eminem on boston’s hip hop flagbearer Ray Benzino with no holds barred, beef is when the notoriously disrespectful and unruly queens bridge hustle 50cent came through the door guns blazing pherociously shelling at the hottest rapper in the building called Ja Rule in 2002, beef is when Ruggedman threw his head warmer on and risked a promising rap career by dragging the towel off the nappy head of Eedris Abdulkareem the self acclaimed king of Nigerian hip hop in his hay day, also beef is when Mode9 a.k.a the punchline machine, the most beautiful mind in the African hip hop circle locked horns with Ruggedman as a means of last resort from a long reign of indirect hostility between the two due to the variance in their Ideology of “keeping it real”. Beef is when the shots go back and forth sporadically till a truce is called or one player is knocked off the top by the prowess of the other. Permit me to sever these listed feuds and highlight the biggest three showdowns in hip hop history separately, you know why? Because I love beef.
2PAC vs NOTORIOUS B.I.G: if there was a diagram for the word beef in the hip hop dictionary there’s no doubt these two hip hop immortals would have had their pictures pasted right beside the word. These are the two most influential rappers to ever roam the earth surface, their bitter feud began when 2pac publicly accused B.I.G and badboy records owner Sean “puffy” Combs of facilitating his being shot five times in the lobby of a New York recording studio on November 30, 1994, this was the beginning of an era of hostility which is today the locus classicus of beef in hip hop culture as 2pac migrated to Oakland California, signed to Dr dre and Suge Knights’ ‘Deathrow records’ and started kicking up all textures of dust on Biggie smalls and Puffy’s personalities, this aggravated the highly egotistic Biggie smalls to let loose a track named “who shot ya?” which contained lyrics like “who shot ya? seperate the weak from the obsolete, hard to creep them Brooklyn streets” this track seemed to portray the idea that Biggie had finally owned up to 2pac’s accusations. With this shot fired the games had officially begun, diss tracks raced back and forth for two eventful years, but the most memorable track of these was 2pac’s war song titled ‘hit em up’ as a reply to biggies ‘who shot ya?’ with the line “who shot me? But you punks didn’t finish the job,now you bout to feel the wrath of a menace” also on that song were lines like “biggie you claim to be a player but I f#cked your wife”. This was the biggest diss song in that decade, no contest. Summarily speaking, this beef went furnace-hot till the mysterious murders of 2pac and Biggie on September 7, 1996 and march 9, 1997 respectively. While this war of wars raged on, both artistes grossed multi millions on record sales as an incentive for a beef well served.
Number of known causalities: 2
Number of careers ended: 2
Number of legends made: 2
JAY-Z vs NAS: After the gruesome murder of Notorious B.I.G in march 1997, New York’s hip hop community embarked on a quest to fill the void Biggie small’s demise had left in the game, all fingers pointed towards Nas, one of NY’s top selling hip hop artistes and Jay-z on the other hand was beginning to build a career buzz for himself as well, both rappers made what was seen as thinly veiled references to each other’s status as “king of new york”. This was going to be the prologue of the most followed feud in hip hop history after the 2pac and B.I.G cold war. The Jay-z versus Nas beef can proudly boast of 31 diss songs from both camps professionally. The First blood was drawn when jay-z manned up and spilled the slime in 2001 as he came on stage at hot 97’s ‘summer jam hip hop festival’ with a song off his ‘blueprint’ album titled ‘the takeover’, a diss track directed at Nas, he left the stage by screaming “ask Nas he don’t want it with hov, Nooo!!!”. Just a month later Nas busted back on NY’s power 105 fm with a radio freestyle over the beats of Eric B and Rakim’s ‘paid in full’, he furiously dissed the whole rocafella crew on the untitled joint, it was later christened ‘H to the OMO’, making jest of Jay-Z’s smash hit ‘H to the Izzo’, the beef was on full throttle. Later In 2001 the world welcomed what would be the biggest diss track of that decade titled ‘ether’ produced by Ron Browz off Nas’s critically acclaimed ‘stillmatic’ album, this song literally molested Jay-Z’s persona, I can never forget lines like … “how many of biggie’s rhymes gon come out your fat lips”, also others like “we rock hoes you rock fellas…” the whole world was left reciting these lines like Dixie tunes. Nas also released ‘got yourself a gun’ of which Jigga replied three days later on hot 97 radio, and Angie Martinez called for a voting poll on both disses on December 11. 2001, Nas won in the poll with 58% votes as against Jay-Z’s 42%. However in 2003 when Jay-Z dropped ‘the Black Album’ and called it his last musical work, little did we know that he would make a surprise comeback two years later with a concert themed “I declare war” guess the surprise guest who jumped on stage at the closing performance of the night, it was none other than NAS. This event marked the end of 5 years of both lyrical and physical warfare with massive record sales to show for it. Jay-z went ahead to sign Nas onto Defjam recordings when he was named president of the label in 2006.
Number of known causalities: nil
Number of careers ended: nil
Number of legends made: 2
50CENT vs JA RULE: The lyrical part of this beef which is what I’m particularly interested in began with a song titled ‘life on the line’ from 50cent’s debut street album titled ‘guess who’s back’ in march 2000, aimed at spiting hugely successful rapper Ja rule and his crew ‘Murder inc.’ who were on top of their game at that time, 50cent followed up with another commercial track titled ‘wanksta’ in 2001. Ja rule obviously the weaker link shied away from this career-threatening feud till 2003 when 50cent took it a punch further on the song ‘Backdown’ taken off the ‘Get rich or Die trying’ album, this song held mockingly spiteful lyrics like “the rap game is all f# cked up now, what we gon do?, how we gon eat with 50 back around?, that’s Ja’s little punk ass thinking out loud”. Certainly Ja rule could only take the humiliation up to that notch as he threw a counter punch on a diss track titled ‘war is on’, he also dropped further tracks like ‘guess who shot ya’ and ‘loose change’ all dissing 50cent bitterly. He had woefully fallen for the booby trap and was right where fitty wanted him. 50cent’s popularity helped him take control on the beef and he would eventually gain support from his rap crew G-unit, Eminem, Dr Dre, Busta Rhymes and even DMX who used to be a close associate and friend of Ja rule rode along. 50cent literally tongue lashed Ja rule out of the hip hop market by not just turning his fans against him but he also hoodwinked them to his own camp as well. As a result of this beef Ja rule went extinct while 50cent grew into a monster on the charts, Jah tried to force a comeback in 2007 with moderate hits like “uh ohh” and “body” but the album kept getting pushed back till he made it a free digital release in 2009.
Number of casualties: 1
Number of careers ended: 1
Number of legends made: 1
Its only right that I stop with these three glaring gospels of hip hop beef and its productivity and merits in the game before y’all get bored and close this page right before the most important part of this draft. All in all what I’m saying is that, beef is healthy as long as hip hop is concerned, even my grandmother would not dispute the fact that 2pac, Biggie smalls , Nas and Jay-z are the greatest hip hop artistes dead or alive, yeah I said it, and this is because they embraced competition and criticisms from each other the hard way, they slugged it out in front of the whole world like real gladiators, they drew all the attention in hip hop to themselves systematically through this medium; record sales and superstar personas sky rocketed to the high heavens as a result of this. On the close-knitted Nigerian hip hop scene we can’t deny that Ruggedmans’s faceoff with Eedris Abdulkareem paved the way for his rise to legendary status in the game, neither can you deny that Mode9’s swashbuckling through the territory of his afro hip hop detractors like Ruggedman elevated him to the pinnacle of a hip hop god on the African scene. Also Icebergslim’s conspicuous mohawk alone couldn’t have drawn him the much needed attention to break through the thick industry walls, all thanks to the fruitful bad blood between the “too much money” crooner and the undisputed microphone magician Mr. Incredible (M.I). Truth be told, did you or did you not listen up when Vector and Reminisce started their little bad romance? You don’t need to answer that, I already know. Hell yeah call me the instigator, need I say it again, I love beef.
In conclusion, the order of the day is “go hard or go home” in a Nigerian music industry where a name is hard to earn, only the unwise and aspiring underachiever will shy away from civil controversy of any kind that is capable of creating a commercial buzz for his/her career, did I hear someone say pass the mic? Yeah, you did too. I shall bow out of this controversial article by dropping one of my favourite inspirational beef quotes for those young artists who can use a good word from a good man, it goes thus;
“If david could go against goliath with a stone, I can go on Nas and Jigga both for the throne” – Curtis ‘50cent’ Jackson”