Insults are rap tunes have walked hand in hand towards the valley of spent breath for a long time. The streets, clubs and territorial antagonism that cut the teeth of the earliest players in the game have been a genre mainstay, despite the fact that hip hop is the largest commercial force in music, not the scrappy dog waiting to beat someone over the skull with a bone to pick like the 80s and 90s.
Eminem’s recent destruction of Machine Gun Kelly, as well as Drake’s skirmishes with his peers, are merely two instances of juicy, slow-cooked beef. What do we think about it? Are beefs too lame and unnecessary, or a genuine form of excitement? Let a few good strangers give their opinion, I say . . .
Ravi and Pedro
R: It’s individual when we’re talking about influence. There’s enjoyment and then there’s just being a fan of chart music, what surrounds it. Some people feel empowered by it, and love being part of a train wreck. Others just jump into trends for the sake of it, even if they’re an argument they don’t understand. He [gestures to Pedro] listens to hip hop sometimes, as a skater, while he’s on the ramp. So that’s his influence.
P: In my country, they use ‘the beef’ to get more fans. And my opinion is that music takes the most importance – anything else is not as interesting to me.
Fred, Dave & Giuseppe
F: For me it’s just like bands in the 90s, y’know, like Noel Gallagher creating some kind of hype in the scene. You’re either on this side or that side. That’s kind of good because it makes music more alive. If I see a headline about this stuff, I will click it, to see what’s going on, and that’s how it brings interest to someone like me who’s not so much into rap or r’n’b.
D: Well I’m not a big fan of Soundcloud hip hop or anything but there’s nothing wrong with a music movement. By itself, it’s a positive thing in everyday life. Positivity that comes from negativity? Why not? That’s the duality inside of rap culture. When you step outside of that, you have a whole mass of listeners who can lead where it goes next based on what they like. As I said, I might be talking shit because I’m not massively into the genre. But it’s an evolution. All music needs this.
F: ‘Input’ is the word here. Input adds more opinions and keeps it interesting.
D: Eminem’s been my favourite artists forever. He’s in recovery now, just like me, and that speaks of a connection when celebrities talk about themselves openly. That’s huge for younger people. But with the way that the world is, insults are happening everywhere, all over social media and the like, so it doesn’t matter whether Em is spitting shit at his critics or not. Too many of us are used to it online, regardless. When I was younger, sure, I would’ve been caught up in the sort of vitriol from his new album. We’d all talk about it at school. Yet I’ve lost interest. Recovery, however, made him vulnerable, which is more appealing to my mature side.
J: Daytona was one of my favourite albums this year. His beef on that was good for the culture, and continues to be, because it has never left the culture. Say Two Pac and Biggie, Jay Z and Nas, Pusha T versus Drake . . . although it’s inevitable in a sense, things can get really, really wack, or go too far. Listen to Nas’ disses to Jay back in the day. At the time it was funny, but now it’s terrible. And even compared to back then, diss tracks now ain’t shit. ‘Scuse my language, but it’s part of how rappers these days aren’t as lyrical – they rap about the same stuff, like people’s mums and family issues. Occasionally you’ll hear something incredible. It’s just that not much excites me anymore. Pusha T’s expose is one of the few examples where a rapper has completely ripped into someone and it sounded great, untouchable.
Charlotte & Charlotte
C1: Music’s developing, isn’t it? You’ve guys on Soundcloud and YouTube doing their own material so maybe the lines are drawn there between generations, which feeds the insults. If tomorrow’s rap stars enjoy taking the piss out of those we have currently, they enjoy doing that. Can’t argue with it.
C2: Let’s not forget about ghost writing. Anyone who writes their own material shouldn’t be scared of others trying to shame them. Everyone can speak for themselves. Maybe don’t call others out for it, cos some listeners might decide – just like One Direction never wrote a song in their lives – to avoid their output without being told to.