Rap beefs may never end, but at what cost?
A lot has happened in 2018 alone when it comes to rap beefs and their victors. The majority felt Pusha T defeated Drake back in May when he revealed the Toronto rapper had a secret son, roasted his father, insulted his mother, and poked fun at his longtime producer 40‘s multiple sclerosis. There is no clear party with the upper hand in the ongoing beef between Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, who nearly came to blows during New York Fashion week after a summer full of Twitter fingers and war between their fanbases.
As enjoyable as the memes and Tweets can be, and as memorable and revelatory as the diss songs have been, there’s one thing that rings true about a lot of these conflicts between artists: they could make amazing music together, and now we may never get it. Beef is inevitable in a genre like this where competition is inherent, and the opinions of fans and critics hold so much weight. Many people want to be the best, and they target those whom they feel could be hindering that.
Competition brings out the best in people. No artist, or person for that matter, who has coasted through life smoothly evolves in the way someone who is challenged does. Tory Lanez, upon his entry into the mainstream scene, was consistently addressing other artists and calling himself the best. Drake didn’t take kindly to it and used his music to respond to Tory’s slander. Tory replied with his music, like the “Controlla” remix which was a massive hit in Summer 2016 and his debut album I Told You. Fans were treated to an in-depth look into his life, but he also showed how versatile he could be when challenged.
Imagine if Tory Lanez and Drake recognized the opportunity they had, and put their egos aside. The “Controlla” remix they could’ve done together, the hooks or verses they could have done together, and putting on a united front for Toronto. The shots they took at each other were enjoyable, and the pressure which lead to some of their best music is appreciated. However, there could be so much more. Fortunately, they eventually did makeup in 2017, with an Instagram picture and sharing the stage during OVO Fest. Perhaps there is some music to come.
Nicki and Cardi B‘s beef was perpetuated by the fans initially, but the two have thrown their fair share of shade at one another over the last few months. Nicki’s been running the female rap game for quite some time and calling her the queen isn’t far-fetched. However, Cardi quickly gained much attention due to “Bodak Yellow” and subsequent tracks so much so that she was seen as a real threat to the throne.
Just this week, Nicki Minaj revealed that she was asked to be on the Billboard-charting track “Bartier Cardi” by Cardi herself back in the Fall of 2017. Minaj opted out since they had “Motorsport” coming out that they would both be on, so 21 Savage was later added. The track is both enjoyable and catchy, and 21’s verse was quite memorable for assertions such as “I don’t eat pussy I’m fastin'” and “My sperm worth millions.” However, hearing what Nicki revealed makes you wonder.
The beat is right up Nicki’s alley, and the two women bring similar energy in their music. The fact that Cardi wanted Nicki on the song means that she has respect for her an artist and understands what a feature from a superstar like Minaj could do for her career. Underneath all of the pettiness, Minaj very well could feel the same about Bardi. Not only would the fellow New Yorkers have an interesting chemistry, but it would be a potent symbol of unity among women when the efforts to empower and support the women of the world have seen a significant increase as of late, despite rap’s storied history of only having one dominant female emcee at a time.
Push and Drake may not ever be able to bounce back from this summer, but it is well documented how big a fan of Pusha T that Aubrey was. Though their content over their careers has been very different, Drizzy is known for entering other artists’ worlds and molding his style to theirs to create a solid piece of work. “Lord Knows” felt very much like a Rick Ross track that Drake adapted to, What A Time To Be Alive was a mixtape of full of Future beats and concepts that Drake jumped on, and his recent efforts alongside elite producer Tay Keith with Travis Scott, Lil Baby, Gunna, and Blocboy JB are self-explanatory.
The former Degrassi star and former member of Clipse could very well put together something special, but the sheer intrigue alone of the two working together would generate a lot of attention, streams, and ultimately money for the two. The way two generations of music could be brought together, and the beat Kanye West could cook up if his services were secured would be a massive moment for Hip-Hop.
Competition is inherent and enjoyable as long as it stays within rap. There are no rules when it comes to rap beef, but the personal depths it went between Push and Drake lead many to think it is beyond jousting and they could never make amends. Now, that could quickly be countered with the fact JAY-Z and Nas were able to come together after the extreme points their beef went to with “Super Ugly,” “Takeover,” and “Ether.” It’s a case by case thing, but fans who understood their history were treated to tangible evidence of how the two could perform together. More importantly, they could see how they measured up on a track together.
These are the kind of things fans miss out on because of rap beef that isn’t resolved. At the moment, it’s fun to participate, take sides, debate, and see what the artists do under pressure. Diss songs are great, conflict creates conversation, but there’s power in having the maturity to resolve unnecessary differences with an artist and do business together.
Sometimes there are clear losers in rap beef. Other times, it is up for debate. One thing that is for sure, is that in the case of unresolved rap beefs the one party that always takes the L is the fans for missing out on potentially great music.