Do Rap Beefs Still Have the Same Impact?
Jabs in 140 characters, 10-minute diss tracks, what began as a misunderstanding over Cassidy battling Murda Mook has dragged into a several months of Cassidy and Meek facing off instead. The lengthy beef has taken its casualties; former Bad Boy rapper Shyne was recently dragged into the fray. According to Cassidy, his ridiculously long diss “R.A.I.D.” has nailed Meek’s coffin shut. "I wouldn't advise that man to try and come back," said Cassidy. "The first record he came out with, he threw a few jabs, but it wasn't nothing crazy. I didn't even understand why he did it. This whole thing started because we were supposed to be battling."
Since hip-hop’s inception, tough talk and beef has been intrinsic to the genre (I won’t bore you with a history lesson. Just Wikipedia it.) 2Pac versus Biggie, Jay-Z versus Nas, 50 Cent versus Ja Rule: These were seminal moments in every young rap fan’s life and made for great records.
But in 2013, do rap beefs even matter?
The most successful rappers today aren’t necessarily strong lyricists, or even good lyricists for that matter. Some would argue that rapping well isn’t even a pre-requisite to being a rapper anymore. Sad but true. Turn on Top 40 radio or take a look at who’s securing the biggest recording contracts for proof. Furthermore, the current zeitgeist in hip-hop is collective rap--G.O.O.D. Music, YMCMB, Maybach Music Group—and having beef is antithetical to that. Ever wondered why the same rappers keep jumping on tracks together? It’s because they’re probably friends or at least get along long enough to cut the record and divvy up the check afterwards. No one wants to do songs with the guy who can’t play nice with others (See: 50 Cent).
Distribution has also diluted the quality of the raps themselves. Beef records used to be a spectacle that people anticipated but social media/ the Internet/Hulkshare Music Group has enabled anyone to throw shots, whenever. Instead of pouring over an incisive 16-bars that goes straight at the opponent’s jugular, rappers have become too trigger, er, Twitter happy, and now fire sub-par verses at will. The Pay-Per-View prizefight has become the back alley brawl that everyone forgets by the next day.
Which brings us back to Meek Mill and Cassidy. This one is particularly heartbreaking because even among today’s unmemorable beefs, it’s markedly ill matched. Meek Mill is one of the hottest rappers in the game, literally on the cusp of mainstream superstardom. Cassidy, on the other hand, peaked with 2003’s “Hotel” featuring R. Kelly and 2005’s “I’m A Hustla,” which by today’s fickle standards is considered ancient history. Philly’s clash of generations; the young gunner versus the aging emcee is just sort of embarrassing and truthfully, aside from a handful of die-hard aficionados who spend way too much time on hip-hop blogs, no one really cares. Meek Mill himself seems over it. While Cassidy is stuck on regaining glory with every ReTweet, Meek has moved onto more important things. “These Louie shoes so soft! Lol” he shared earlier this week. Best. Diss. Ever. --Sowmya Krishnamurthy