07 March 2011

Holy Beefin' Barbies, Batman!

What is beef to you? To me it is simply a disagreement of epic urban proportions. Beef can be fun and beneficial to the hip-hop genre. Usually I am "anti-beef/arguing/conflict" when it comes to rap and hip-hop but someone recently pointed out to me that some of the most influential moments in hip-hop came about as a result of "beef." Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Caz, N.W.A. and Dr. Dre/Ice Cube, Common Sense and W.C.C. It doesn't always have to be bad. Unfortunately, sometimes it is, and that's when the negativity reaches an unfortunate climax and we end up with Tupac and Biggie.
With that said, I pose a question. Where is the line to be drawn? When LL Cool J and Canibus were beefin', it was seen as a healthy jolt for hip-hop. Nothing brews creativity like competition, right? Many mainstream rap fans didn't even know who Mr. Can-I-Bus was until the Second Round Knockout track was released. The series of events surrounding that ordeal was a huge boost to his career.

Jay-Z and Nas both benefited from increased popularity as a result of their drama. However, many critics (myself included) felt that their issues almost went too far, with some saying Jay-Z's "condoms in the baby seat" comment was over the line. I took it for what it was: snaps on his opponent, but apparently even Jay's MOM got into it. Maybe that's when the line should be drawn, eh? Shawn Carter and Nasir Jones were both extremely popular emcees and at the height of their respective successes, but the talk that circulated around hip-hop and the two of them was immense. So LL and Canibus won, Nas and Jay-Z won. Tupac and Biggie didn't.

That last sentence is what brought to me to my current mindset: rely on skills and skills alone to rise up in the ranks of hip-hop. In my opinion, that's what Nicki Minaj is doing. I don't see her trying to climb onto another female emcee's back or trying to insult anyone just to get a rep. Lil Kim, on the other hand, seems to be battling at Nicki to try and get her name BACK up. I say give it up. If anything, why not be a mentor, help her with her strengths and work on her flaws? Even though I've never been a Lil Kim fan, even I can't deny her commercial success of the nineties and early 00's. Her sun has set, however, and she should retire gracefully. That isn't to say that she can't still be relevant. MC Lyte has been in the game for over two decades and has branched out into many other formats of entertainment, including occasionally still performing. The same goes for Queen Latifah. I don't see either of them verbally assaulting Nicki Minaj or anyone else in the game, for that matter. So why must Lil Kim do it?

Kimberly, give it up. Your time is effectively over as far as mainstream success is concerned. For now, Nicki is the forseeable future of females in hip-hop: let her have it. She respects you, we all know this. There's no need to play the angry, disgruntled, spurned ex wife. You're just making yourself look foolish, in my opinion and in the opinions of many others. Besides, would you rather someone discuss your current collabos with one of the hottest acts in hip-hop today or talk about how you are playing yourself with corny mixtapes (that we ALL know nobody with any sense is going to pay ten dollars for)? I'd say the former is better than the latter.

According to the late, great Frank White aka Notorious B.I.G., beef is when you need two gats to go to sleep and your mother isn't safe in the streets and you've got a promised and extended hospital stay in the Intensive Care Unit. The BoogeyMan aka Mos Def puts a more realistic spin on it and says it's when you don't have the money to pay your bills or when a soldier with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder commits suicide. Two very different views by two very esteemed MCs...so why are we focusing on Lil Kim and Nikki Minaj? More so, why is either of them focusing on the other? What happened to doing hip-hop for hip-hop's sake?

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