On Pusha T v. Lil Wayne and how rap music’s new highs invite rap music’s new lows.
If anything, the growing beef between YMCMB chief Lil Wayne and G.O.O.D. Music artist Pusha T proves that hip-hop really isn’t hip-hop anymore. At 3:52 AM Thursday morning, what seemingly started as an innocuous act of Weezy F. Ratchetry grew very quickly into a hotly discussed top of rap conversation. By the time this op-ed will be published, the feud is now officially a YMCMB vs. G.O.O.D. Music issue. Young Money’s Drake chimed in with support for his boss during a Washington, DC performance last week, while numerous loose affiliates to the G.O.O.D. Music team have taken to Twitter against Lil Wayne’s conglomerate. This issue, much like the artists involved, in borrowing a phrase from the last rappers I’d ever expect to mimic this behavior, is bigger than hip-hop. Even worse, for all the positiveness that the wealth and decentralization of the digital era has brought to the genre, these are the adverse effects of what the era where the emperors wear new clothes has brought to the game.
This beef is stupid. Need a few reasons to be swayed into railing against it? Keep reading.
It is my closely held opinion that rappers need to beef for only three logical reasons:
- To get on. Roxanne Shante was a great emcee. As a female in rap’s early days, opportunities for success were scarce. Getting back at U.T.F.O. made sense because she had a talent that required a spotlighted space in which to shine. “The Real Roxanne” fit that billing.
- To make money. What gets lost in the East coast/West coast beef is that Suge Knight ultimately dissed Puff Daddy because he wanted to sign artists potentially considering Bad Boy to Death Row. When DIY small business owners and independent contractors look at small profit margins between being very broke and being crazy paid, small minded behavior rules the roost.
- To showcase their talent. Nas and Jay-Z are the Ali and Frazier of hip-hop culture. In their first bout, Jay-Z (Ali) proved victorious. In their second bout, Nas (Frazier) clearly knocked Jay-Z on his ass for the entire world to see. By bout three, the world had come to have a divided respect for both as fantastically creative performers, with winners and losers largely socially irrelevant.
Though executives in suits may think that a Pusha T album needs “a little something extra,” the VA-born cocaine rap legend doesn’t need a rap battle with Lil Wayne to “get on.” Maybe the same executives need to realize that coke raps coming from the mouth of a 35-year old man of significant means sound more than a bit absurd. Seemingly nprovoked battle raps against Lil Wayne? Even sillier. The last decade of rap’s mainstream success dictates that grown men allowed access to significant millions of dollars who cannot save those dollars deserve to be bitter and angry. I for one would rather they sulk in private than engage in public ignorance that clutters my Twitter timeline. And if we’re going to discuss a beef as a talent showcase, then let’s not discuss Lil Wayne’s generic opening savo “Goulish.” If they even cared anymore, it would likely make Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J think they could really start rapping again.
Jay-Z and Kanye’s Watch the Throne changed the game and reflected hip-hop’s now wildly expanded occupied space. While Watch the Throne is at the top, this feud is at the bottom. Young Money’s top artists are the not yet 30 year old prodigal son of CMB, a Canadian teen actor and Travis McCoy’s little cousin. G.O.O.D. Music is a label headed by a man in a made for TV relationship with a woman seemingly only famous for having videotaped sexual relations with Brandy’s brother. On the label as well are the dean of trap rap, a man who has made a successful career out of hypebeast swag and booty odes, plus a retinue of rappin’ ass rap legends in the glowing golden twilight where legend becomes dominant legacy. Why any of these folks are engaged in a rap beef is far beyond my level of comprehension.
Hip-hop has grown from the bodega to the boardroom and from the Fever to the Festival Circuit. Rap was once the domain of broke dudes who rapped because they didn’t think that Reaganomics would support progressive Black enterprise. Now? Rap is a space where blacks have all the enterprise, and are clearly at a place where they don’t know what to do with it. An African Kiswahili proverb states that when the elephants fight, the grass suffers. In choosing sides and supporting this beef, or just idly sitting and watching it float by, rap fanatics are showing a lack of awareness of the history of that which they claim to love. A future without a past creates a most vapid present. Pusha-T is feuding with Lil Wayne. For real. A new level has been reached in rap. I hate it, and feel less intelligent for having written the past 800+ words.