I was feeling nostalgic for some old school battle raps when I woke up this morning and have been listening to diss records for the last few hours now. There have been so many legendary songs birthed from feuding MCs, and even though battle rapping is one of the key elements to the essence of hip-hop, artists now a days have shied away from stepping to each other and the battle rap seems to be a dead practice. Some will argue that Lil Wayne’s recent jab at Jay-Z may prompt a squabble between the two, but to me, it just seems like a marketing ploy to help each artist sell records with their recent releases (on another note how in the hell did The Carter IV sell 1 million the first week!? Birdman must have bought 500,000 copies himself).
I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of the last meaningful dispute between MC’s, considering so many asinine beefs have come and gone over the last year (Soulja Boy vs. Ice T, Frank Ocean vs. Chris Brown, etc…). As a fan I have experienced a great paradox as the lack of conflict has brought some great artists together on songs, but at the same time MCs have lost that competitive edge that has resulted in some of the best music ever. In 2001, at the height of the Jay-Z/Nas strife, they each dropped not only legendary diss tracks, but also some of the best albums of their lengthy careers with The Blueprint and Stillmatic. Instead of shying away from each other, they pushed each other to create great work, which resulted in platinum selling albums, and we as fans benefited the most by being blessed with a tremendous product. The Shady Records vs. The Source/Benzino beef created some of the best produced and most polished mixtapes ever, and further escalated Eminem’s status as one of the best MC’s to ever do it. Hell, most of 8 Mile was probably inspired by the songs made during that era. 50 Cent has pretty much made his living off of ending careers with a plethora of devastating battle records and mixtapes that put a lot of once popular rappers on the welfare line.
I respect the fact that artists are now more focused on working together to produce great music together and earn a check, but part of me hopes that someone will bring that competitive edge back to a game that needs that energy. It’s disheartening to think that the most noteworthy feud in rap right now is between Rick Ross, Kreayshawn and the White Girl Mob.
“So you think that hip-hop had its start out in Queensbridge? If you popped that junk up in the Bronx you might not live!”
I had a hard time deciding which song would accompany this post, however, I decided it would only be right to bring it back to the original, and arguably the best hip-hop battle of all time. KRS-ONE vs. MC Shan was way more than two artists going back and forth at each other. It was about repping your borough. It was The Juice Crew vs. BDP. It was the South Bronx vs. Queensbridge. It was about solidifying hip-hop as a dominant mainstream presence and paving the way for every future MC who has benefited from hip-hop. The real gem of this battle was KRS-ONE’s “South Bronx” which can still get a crowd live in the right setting.