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What’s Beef 2009

In the first month of ‘09, hip-hop has already seen more beef than your local butcher shop. Some were snoozers (Soulja Boy vs. Bow Wow… puh-leeze!) and others brought out the best in uber-lyrical beasts (Saigon vs. Joe Budden). But overall, this year’s rivalries have signaled a shift in the way rappers are trading blows.

Take the latest, most-talked-about beef that we’ve seen thus far, between 50 Cent and Rick Ross. Rap heads are already hailing 50 the victor after one solid, but not career-devastating, diss record. But the major brunt of his offensive is off the wax: Fif’ taking Rick’s baby’s mom shopping for furs, making threats on camera, paid-for legal documents, and even a cartoon sketch. Now, while all are disrespectful, defaming and hilarious—the core ingredients for an Ether-laced track—none have rhythm or are laid over a beat. Shouldn’t the outcome of a hip-hop battle be determined by the mud slinging that goes down on a record? When did a video showing AngryMC damn-near smashing RivalMC’s baby’s mother become more lethal weaponry than AngryMC rapping about smashing RivalMC’s baby’s mother? Sure, there were a few Summer Jam-screen casualties in years past (poor Prodigy) but there was always an accompanying punchline (“Twinkletoes, you’re breaking my heart…”). Today, cats are just mouthing off directly to other rappers via YouTube, sans beat and rhyme scheme.

Don’t get me wrong, though, the era of Flip cam rap (YN, what up?!) keeps me watching. And I’d much rather the tensions spill onto WorldStarHipHop than the streets. But if we’re going to be judging these dudes as rappers, can we get some bars and hooks? What do y’all think? Should the thumping that takes place outside of the ropes count? Or is everything fair game in rap battle, rhyme or not?–John Kennedy
Rick Ross – “Mafia Music”

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50 Cent – “Officer Ricky (Don’t Try Me)”

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