“Real” rap fans, instead of playing into female rappers’ catty feuds, keep that same energy and demand the same bars expected from male rappers.
There is no such thing as “if you had fun you won” in the rap game. In its truest form, rap is a sport, and there aren’t multiple winners. Yes, multiple artists can bask in the same pool of success, but ultimately one wins that final gold star (especially when we’re talking about album sales, awards, etc). Especially in the realm of rap beef—the genre’s favorite game—there can only be one winner. We expect it. When it came to the latest squabbles between male rappers like Drake and Pusha T, fans debated over who won the war, but unfortunately, that energy has not been extended to the ladies of the game. Rap beefs between femcees, most notably Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, don’t foster the same reactions or expectations. It appears as though no one is seeking women to deliver diss tracks. We argue it’s an act of “anti-feminism” if they do. Instead, we marvel at the bi**hiness of their issues with one another, finding satisfaction in catty interviews and social media videos. But in the end, it’s a disservice to the culture and the movement of women who constantly ask for the word “female” to be stripped from the beginning of their titles so that it just says “rapper.”
Nicki and Cardi’s ongoing feud has been one of the most talked about beefs this year, but neither artist has been held to the same standard as their male counterparts of the same high-profile status. Their dual reached new heights last Monday (Oct. 29), when Nicki revisited her notorious fight with Cardi at New York Fashion Week on Queen Radio, offering fans $100,000 to uncover footage that proved Cardi was beaten senseless by Rah Ali. She also claimed Cardi had attempted to “stop her bag” by demanding other artists not work with her (which several other artists have accused Nicki of doing to them).
Nicki’s comments didn’t fall on deaf ears. Only hours later, Cardi B hit back on Instagram, recording a series of videos that addressed the various claims made by Nicki earlier that day. And it didn’t stop there; Nicki returned on Twitter with a rebuttal, before the two ultimately called a lukewarm truce.
Admittedly, this might have been one of the most entertaining moments of the year. Hip-hop fans scrolled and cackled as they played Cardi’s videos one after the other before rolling over to their Twitter apps to see what Nicki had to say. Nicki’s line “baby girl write a rap” inspired a series of GIFs, as well as Cardi’s quotable: “how convenient is that.” But the point is not what was said, but where it was said. While both ladies spewed harsh remarks, none of it once touched wax. It was over social media, leaving the blogs—which both have protested in the past for writing salacious stories pitting women against each other—to tell their stories for them.
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More importantly, there was no encouragement from fans or media outlets to express their frustrations on a record. Instead, there were requests for the two to take lie detector tests (daytime TV host Maury Povich even offered to assist the artists in their dispute) or continue to air out their dirty laundry on the Internet. Legitimate brands participated in the mayhem; Steve Madden and Wilhelmina Models jumped on the first train to drama city to fuel the battle.
There’s a gross oversight in the hip-hop community when we as fans do not ask for the two most popular and historic female rappers to record diss tracks. When it came to Drizzy and Pusha’s feud in May 2018, we demanded a spar of (recorded) words and wouldn’t settle for anything less. Both artists delivered a series of diss tracks, including “Duppy Freestyle” and “The Story of Adidon,” but a majority of fans rolled their eyes when the two followed up their musical feud with interviews on LeBron James’ The Shop and “The Joe Budden Podcast.” Twitter, especially, was flooded with figurative eye rolls, asking for the two to leave the gossip behind and thrust that energy into more music. The media even got involved—DJBooth published an opinion piece on Oct. 17 entitled, “Pusha-T Put It On Wax.”
Likewise, Eminem’s battle royale with MGK also received massive support. MGK was praised for igniting vintage rap vibes with “Rap Devil.” Fans waited at the edge of their seats to see how Eminem would reciprocate. When Em hit back with “Killshot,” some fans posed the question of whether the feud would continue for another round. Others mulled over who won. So where was that energy with Nicki and Cardi’s eager spectators?
Of course there are male artists that we ignore as well. 50 Cent and Ja Rule’s drawn-out feud is one that only lives on social media. Fans have not encouraged their petty jabs; many insist they give it a rest due to the fact that no one really takes them seriously as rappers, especially since they have moved onto entrepreneurial endeavors. It would suggest the silence regarding Nicki and Cardi’s beef stems from the way we view both stars, as well as female artists and their rap beef in general.
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Female rappers have been branded with the 50 Cent and Ja Rule stain from day one. They are the clowns of the industry until proven otherwise. Twitter never asked for an Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea face-off or Azealia vs. Cardi because it would’ve been seen as a joke or petty. Fans just wanted to (smartly) discuss mental health in the music industry and show love towards Cardi in her moment of glory. They were even mum when Azealia went up against Nicki because, again, mental health is a serious issue.
To some, Cardi, Iggy and Azealia are not viewed as “serious” rappers. Cardi has mastered the art of producing a certified banger, but she is the relatable girl up the block. Additionally, Cardi is not a writer. She’s admitted to receiving help penning her own lyrics and therefore, should be automatically disqualified. Iggy’s missteps in the media and odd pairings in the pop sphere have left her in the dark, and although Azealia may be the most talented and technically-equipped artist of this generation, her commentary on race and blind attacks on the industry’s most beloved celebs (Beyonce, Lana Del Rey, Skai Jackson) have severely tainted her positioning on the respectability scale.
Unfortunately, when the female artists finally reach that pillar of serious success, it somehow makes them exempt from competition, as if they are invincible. Nicki’s resume deems her an undisputed opponent. Her solid verse on Kanye’s “Monster” is immortalized, and since she’s been the only female rapper in the game for such a long period of time, everyone has steered clear of testing her. The only time you’d expect any support from a vet is when she’s up against another vet. “ShEther,” Remy Ma’s diss track targeting Nicki, garnered the appropriate reaction, but even then, the Barbz attempted to slander Remy’s character with Billboard stats and plaques, arguing that a response record was not required of an artist at Nicki’s level.
In the end, fans stay silent because they view one or more of the parties involved as jokes or because they are trying to protect a legacy. There’s a Mary Poppins’ bag of endless excuses why female rap beefs go unnoticed, but they all would suggest that there is a double standard happening in hip-hop. Come on, even the most elementary of rappers have drummed up buzz for musical back-and-forths. Lil Pump and J. Cole went tit-for-tat on the “F**k J. Cole” and “1985,” respectively, and fans were deeply invested.
— The Maury Show (@TheMAURYShow) October 30, 2018
Supporters have a responsibility to invest and hoist female artists onto the same pedestal as male rappers. Aside from watching them roast each other on social media or ask that they hold hands and hug it out for representation sake, request that they engage in a good ol’ fashioned rap beef. “ShEther” is proof of the reward that comes when you see a rap beef through. The track forced fans to have a debate, discuss and dissect bar-for-bar, so much so that it garnered the attention of the masses (it peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s U.S. Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles.) The reception would’ve likely been 10 times as great if fans had put the pressure on Nicki to respond.
With Nicki being a seasoned artist, we would hope that she would play into the feud simply to demonstrate why she is the queen she proclaims to be on record. Or, we’d even want someone in Cardi’s corner to tell her to shut her opponent up the old fashioned way (sans the screenshots of stats reports). But even more disappointing than the two women involved are the countless Barbz and Bardi Gang members who have grown passive and rolled over as the current faces of female rap handled their issues like two high school girls using their posses to relay the message that they hate each other. Do better.