-By Jasmine Grant
2015 had more than its fair share of hilariously entertaining rap beefs, and 2016 so far has not disappointed us in that realm. Seems these days, every rapper or celebrity has an issue where they just can’t keep the pettiness off the good ole’ innanet. Needless to say, we are living for it. But is there some PR manipulation at play? Forbes writer Natalie Robehmed notes that competition in hip hop has a direct correlation to sales. And since timing is everything, it’s not farfetched to believe that these “beefs” are expertly calculated to drive traffic to the music. No matter which rapper ends up the butt of the jokes (or memes in this case) major dough stands to be made for artists who agree to duke it out in the arena of public opinion.
Here’s a look at a few beefs we’re side eying, where artists tried to pull the okie doke and sneak in a tit-for-tat leading up to an album release.
Wiz Khalifa vs. Kanye West
A few weeks back, Kanye West unloaded a series of vicious tweets aimed at Wiz Khalifa, taking a few shots at their shared ex Amber Rose. In retaliation, Amber aka the Petty Queen made Kanye the literal butt of her jokes, revealing that Ye’ has a thing for anal play. Days later, we realize the jokes’ on us as Amber Rose and Kim Kardashian West share an unexpected selfie together. A resounding “WTF” was let out by #TeamKardashian and the “Rosebuds” who were loyally standing by their faves. Why were Amber and Kim, who up until now haven’t seen it for each other, suddenly moved to have a heart to heart. And why would Kanye and Wiz, who’ve managed to stay clear of each other, suddenly go at it right before they’re both due to drop new albums? Something in the milk ain’t clean.
Drake vs. Meek Mill
Meek Mill made the worst decision of all time when he decided to call out Drake for allegedly using a ghostwriter. Drake lyrically annihilated the Philly MC with his diss record “Back to Back," and the internet quickly finished the job with a wave of gut-busting memes at Meek’s expense. Drake is the undisputed winner here, yet his single “Summer Sixteen” suggests that he’s still trying to capitalize on their quarrel. Why would Drake, who has triumphed over Meek Mill in every possible way, resurrect this ice cold feud when he really doesn’t need that kind of publicity? “Summer Sixteen” has been met with good reception, though fans are starting to yawn at the stale Drake/Meek fiasco.
50 Cent vs. Rick Ross
Rap fans got a hearty chuckle out of the f-ckery that occurred between Rick Ross and 50 Cent in 2009. Though it’s not entirely clear what ignited the 6-year feud, one thing is for sure…50 Cent has zero chill. Rick Ross dissed the Queens rapper in his song “Mafia Music.” That’s when 50 unleashed a full on smear campaign, revealing that Rozay was once a corrections officer pre-fame (so not street) and even leaking a sex tape starring the mother of Ross’ child. Ross and 50 released Deeper Than Rap and Before I Self Destruct that year respectively, and while both albums had their strong tracks, the anticipation for both was leveled only by the hype of the beef.
Jay Z vs. Nas
The 2001 feud between Jay-Z and Nas went down pre-social media and is a textbook example of how beef can transform to a major cash cow for rappers. After Nas dropped “Ether,” his subsequent Stillmatic album went platinum. “Ether” is still considered one of the most hardcore diss tracks of all times, but Nas wasn’t the only beneficiary. Jay Z’s 2002 follow up, The Blueprint 2, shipped 545,000 units in its first week of sales. Neither artist had faster-selling platinum albums before or after this. On this surface, their feud seemed to be rooted in longstanding issues involving outside parties. But isn’t it the least bit ironic that this war of words popped off immediately before both artists released major projects?
Cam’ron vs. Jim Jones
Still not convinced that fake beefs exist? Just ask rapper Cam’ron. During a 2013 interview with Power 105’s The Breakfast Club, Cam admitted fellow Dipset member Jim Jones tried to persuade him into staging a beef. “There was a time [Jones] was in my kitchen and he was like, ‘Yo, let’s act like we got beef,’“ the Harlem rapper admitted. “I’m like, ‘Why would we act like we have beef?'” (Jones later ran with that idea, in case you were wondering.) Cam’rom and Jim have since squashed their issues, and we can all look forward (hopefully) to the Diplomatic Immunity 3 mixtape coming soon.
Young Thug vs. Metro Boomin
Atlanta native Young Thug and super-producer Metro Boomin had a brief and random feud. Metro decided to drop some Twitter wisdom, saying that rappers try and fail to follow Future’s formula of success by dropping mixtapes at rapid success. Young Thug took those comments personally, and the two got into over Twitter. What made the run-in so odd is that the two were collaborating on a new mixtape themselves. DJ Akademics blew the lid on this fake feud after two were caught interacting on Periscope...and in good spirits (side eye!)
Ultimately, these beefs, staged or not, have an impact on we the listeners because we are invested. Our ravenous appetite for a scandal keep us engaged and rappers paid. Though it’s no doubt fun to be a spectator in the hip-hop version of As The World Turns, the fact that we’re probably being trolled is ironic and also a bit wack. Perhaps hip hop fans are to blame for how much we feed into it. But I’m betting there are some of us that still support artists based on their lyrical content, not because we’ve been hypnotized by some make-believe meme war.