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A hip hop rivalry, also known as a beef or a feud, is a controversy in which two or more rappers create a rivalry that is manifested by each slandering and confronting the other in a number of ways.

Background[edit]

Hip hop rivalries have existed since the dawn of hip hop music, which originated in the 1970s in New York City, United States. Originally, it came to block parties, where DJs would play records and isolate the percussion breaks for the dancing masses. Soon, MCs began speaking over the beats, usually simply exhorting the audience to continue dancing. Eventually, MCs began incorporating more varied and stylistic speech, and focused on introducing themselves, shouting out to friends in the audience, boasting about their own skills, and criticizing their rivals. While this was often done in good humor, the deaths of 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. have meant that in today's hip hop scene it is always feared that lyrical rivalries will develop into offstage feuds that become violent. Observers[who?] have claimed that the media feed on such rivalries for headlines and blow situations out of proportion, a good example of which was the infamous East Coast–West Coast rivalry of the 1990s. One prominent example used as contrast by those who feel that the media manipulate and intensify hip hop rivalries was the 1980s hit "Roxanne, Roxanne" by U.T.F.O., which sparked several hundred "answer records" in response, some of which were quite vituperative (see the Roxanne Wars). At the time, hip hop was nowhere as widespread as it would eventually become, and as such there was little media response to that record. The beef never made it onto the streets. The 2001 high-profile beef between Nas and Jay-Z was carried out without ever threatening to become violent.

One of the most common ways rap rivals clash is through "diss songs", which are music tracks that contain insults within the lyrics, directed at the artist's rival. Feuds are also fueled by rivals placing targeted insults in the press, confronting one another at public events and in numerous other ways. In some cases, rivalries intermingle to sometimes violent results, as happened in the east coast/west coast rivalry of the early and mid nineties.[1]

Notable feuds in the history of hip hop include The Bridge Wars, The Roxanne Saga, and LL Cool J vs Kool Moe Dee. There is speculation in the music press that the murders of rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac may have been linked to their rivalry with one another.[2][3] Other notable feuds include the Jay-Z vs. Nas feud, and Lil Kim vs. Nicki Minaj.

East Coast v. West Coast[edit]

Probably the most famous rap feud of recent times is the early to mid-1990s rivalry between the East Coast's Bad Boy Records and the West Coast's Death Row Records. Though the rivalry mostly consisted of shots from Death Row towards various acts and, more specifically, Bad Boy, the media billed it as a "rap war" between two coasts. This led to fans of and from both scenes denouncing each others' native artists, causing a huge impact on the rap culture as a whole.

Hip hop had originated in the streets of New York, and the city remained the undisputed capital of hip hop until the late '80s, when N.W.A., ICE-T, [[Digital Underground], MC Hammer, Too Short and others made popular albums that outsold many of the established East Coast artists. Dr. Dre's The Chronic became one of the biggest-selling hip hop albums in history, followed shortly by Snoop Doggy Dogg's breakout album Doggystyle in 1993. Dre was part of Death Row Records, headed by Suge Knight, and he soon built up a roster of stars like - 2 Pac, Tha Dogg Pound and Snoop Doggy Dogg that were placed frequently highly in the charts, and Los Angeles begun to rival New York for its place as the center for mainstream hip hop. This had already, and somewhat inevitably, created a tension between certain industry heavyweights on both coasts, each hungry for control of an increasingly lucrative market. The biggest stars on the East Coast at this time were Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Records crew, which was founded in 1993 and at the time included Craig Mack and The Notorious B.I.G..

Notable Rivalries[edit]

Lil' Kim[edit]

v. Nicki Minaj[edit]

In 2009, rap artist Nicki Minaj emerged to become one of the most successful female rappers of her time, and she quickly broke onto the mainstream scene. Despite her success, Minaj was accused of copying rapper Lil' Kim's style, lyrics and music during her rise to fame, as well as taking 'shots' at Kim in her raps. Furthermore, Minaj made a couple of covers of Kim's songs and presented herself as a "Barbie" in Mariah Carey's 2010 video to Up Out My Face, which critics and Kim herself saw as an attempt to copy her style. Minaj admitted to being influenced by Kim, but did not consider herself to be stealing her style. Lil Kim retaliated, saying that before Minaj's success, Minaj had continuously disrespected her in her music.[4]

In June 2010, R&B artist Ray J, a friend of Lil' Kim's, addressed Minaj by stating "[There are] a lot of people trying to bite styles and sh**. I ain't saying no names, but you know who…" Kim also contributed to his statement by saying "We love her! We just want [her] to pay homage, so we could all rock together. It’s all about respect. You respect me, I respect you. If you don’t respect me, then f**k you." [5] Lil' Kim and Baltimore MC Keys (who has also been attacking Minaj, to which Minaj did not respond directly) have collaborated on stage to further diss Minaj. Drake, label mate of Nicki Minaj, commented on the situation by saying "I don't give a f*ck what Lil Kim says".[6] Furthermore, he states "I didn't respect that at all," he continued by saying "[these things] are just signs that you are losing it" and "[Kim is] supposed to be a 'G', but that wasn't 'G' to me at all". [7] 50 Cent addressed the beef in June 2010, stating that he sees how Minaj is influenced by Kim and that it was not right for rapper Diddy to call Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj the "new Notorious B.I.G. and Lil' Kim." [8] Diddy had the following to say about the situation: "[Nicki Minaj] ain't trying to swagger-jack or say nothing negative about [Lil' Kim]. I just think that Kim needs to just understand that Nicki as a whole has always been respectful of her and Nicki's not trying to be her," adding "I ain't gonna make no apologies for working with Nicki Minaj. [She is] somebody that's never said anything negative about Kim and just really has always, in my eyes, has paid homage to Kim. She's a different MC. They don't even talk about the same thing. If you're like a connoisseur of MCs and you a specialist, like what Kim has talked about and what Nicki talks about, they don't talk about the same things." [9]

Lil' Kim answered to Drake by calling him a "straight pussy" and added that "this nigger" did not distinguish between her and Ray J disrespecting Minaj, when it really was Ray J. She explained that she was only being loyal to Ray J when he talked bad about Minaj. She also did not appreciate Drake attacking her as a female.[10] In an interview with "ThisIs50.com" she agreed with 50 Cent that "Diddy sucked." She was upset at Diddy and considered him to be disloyal. She also mentioned that she was irritated because Minaj kept "busting shots" at her instead of giving her the respect she deserved.[11]

Nicki Minaj and rapper Eminem replied to the situation with the song Roman's Revenge. Many critics considered this song a "diss" towards Lil' Kim. Mariel Concepcion of Billboard dissected the song stating "Nicki Minaj's highly-talked about 'Roman's Revenge' track hits the net over the weekend, and the Harajuku Barbie appears to be taking jabs at Lil' Kim."[12] Lil' Kim fired back at the song at a club-concert, stating "I will erase this b*tch’s social security number. First of all, I don’t even need a record right now and I’d kill that b*tch with my old sh**. My records ain’t just enter the charts, they made history. What the f**k is this bullsh**, this sh** come and go!"[13] Minaj later responded in an interview on The Wendy Williams Show by stating "they know what I'm talking about. See that's the thing when you put out records; you know only the 'guilty ones' feel like you're talking about them. So you know, if you have nothing to worry about, if you haven't came out saying stuff, if you never came out saying your ungrateful bullsh** then you wouldn't worry about it."[14]

The first time Minaj explicitly addressed the feud was in November when she attended a radio interview with rapper and radio host Angie Martinez. Martinez collaborated with Lil' Kim on her song "Not Tonight" in 1996. Minaj said "when I see your(Lil' Kim) name on [the] Billboard I’ll respond to you." [15] Minaj claimed that rapper Foxy Brown told her about Lil' Kim not liking her in 2009. However, Brown has denied this through twitter.[16]

In November 2010, Lil' Kim's "diss" track "Black Friday," in reference to Minaj's Pink Friday, surfaced. It served as a response to the interview done by Minaj and Martinez.[17] On April 5, 2011, after most thought the beef had been settled, Nicki Minaj released a fragment of a new track she made, called "Tragedy" as well as a couple of other shots on featured tracks. It was allegedly scheduled to be featured on Lil' Wayne's album, Tha Carter IV; however, the song is not listed on the album. This song has been acclaimed to have a more direct attack than "Roman's Revenge" did.[18] Minaj also went into further attacking Kim in Birdman's "Y U Mad" song. Lil' Kim then retaliated with a freestyle rap called "Warning Freestyle" where she attacks Minaj, Birdman and Lil' Wayne (all whom were on the 'Y U Mad' song). In 2012, Minaj has also announced that she is releasing a new album called "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded" where Minaj has taken several shots at Lil' Kim in songs notably in "Roman In Moscow" and "Stupid Hoe".

v. Drake[edit]

Drake stood up for Minaj during one of her concerts. In response to Lil Kim's comments about Minaj, Drake said, "I don't give a fuck what Lil Kim or nobody else is talking about!" He continued to say that Minaj was the hottest female Mc in the public eye as of now. Lil Kim responded on radio, and called Drake a "Pussy." She said she used to like him until he attacked her, and that he should have attacked Ray-J as well because he also made remarks about Minaj.

References[edit]

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