Sunday, 27 September 2009

Have rappers finally grown up?

Over the years, rap music has seen some of the most violent and famous feuds resulting in the premature deaths of countless talented musicians. The most documented war was that of West Coast rapper, Tupac Shakur and East Coast rival, Notorious B.I.G. This particular beef resulted in Tupac being killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in September 1996. Notorious denied any involvement but he too was targeted by an unknown in a similar attack shortly after the birth of his first son by singer, Faith Evans. He died of three bullet wounds to his chest in March 1997. It is widely believed that the killing of Notorious was backlash from the murder of Tupac with which Notorious was believed to have been involved.
Several other feuds have consumed headlines and have sparked rivalry between musicians and fans alike. Another famous beef was between New York rappers, Jay Z and Nas. The two had began as friends, making shout outs to one another on their respective albums and were seemingly rising above the hate wars of fellow rappers.
In Jay Z's sixth studio album, 2001's, The Blueprint I (produced by Kanye West) the duo composed a hate track targeted at Nas. The Takeover was the response to months of disrespectful behaviour from Nas and his crew towards Jay Z and Damon Dash (co-founder of Jay-Z's Roc-a-fella Records).
Issues between the two began shortly after the death of New York's most popular rapper, Notorious B.I.G. The void that was left after his death sparked competition between the two rappers and after Jay Z used a line from a Nas song without permission, the relationship began to deteriorate. Jay Z tried to patch things up by inviting Nas to re-record his lyrics as used in the sample but after several no-shows, the Jay Z clan were less than impressed.
The relationship soured further when Nas, who had agreed to put out his 1996 record, The Firm with Roc-a-fella, went behind the backs of Jay Z and Damon Dash and released the album with Aftermath records. Despite all this, Jay Z maintained respect for Nas and mentioned him in his 1997 track, Where I'm From. This was reciprocated by a 1999 track by Nas, We Will Survive which criticised several rappers, including Jay Z.
Jay Z's reatalliaton was an articulate but relentless display of dominance.
So yeah I sampled your voice, you was usin it wrong
You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song
And you ain't get a coin n***a you was gettin f**ked and
I know who I paid God, Serchlite Publishing
Use your - BRAAAAAAAIN! You said you been in this ten
I've been in it five - smarten up Nas
Four albums in ten years n***a? I can divide
That's one every let's say two, two of them sh**s was due
One was - NAHHH, the other was "Illmatic"
That's a one hot album every ten year average
And that's so - LAAAAAAAME! N***a switch up your flow
Your sh*t is garbage, but you try and kick knowledge?
Each verse on this track had 16 lines, the verse directed at Nas had 32. Handbags...!
It took a while for the dust to settle but the feud officially ended with an on stage collaboration in 2005 which saw the start of a beautiful relationship. The duo are now business partners and the sense of both parties meant that the beef never resorted to violence. A case of "keep your friends close, your enemies closer"? You decide.

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