This beef did all of that and then some. This is the only beef in hip-hop history that divided a country.
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- 1979: Grandmaster Caz.
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This was crazy because these two were friends, but unfortunately, things went south. I could go on and on about these two, but let me just stick to the tracks. These guys had more than one. Sticking to the boxing analogy, their fight was more like a Mayweather fight. The beef went on for a while, which produced a few diss tracks towards one another. Even 20 years later, we still have people trying to compare the two which is impossible.
They were both before their time, which is why we can listen to their music now and it will not sound out of place. All the MCs in the game right now still have not seen an artist accomplish what these two have. Nope, not even your precious Drake. In the end, there was no winner. Both were murdered and the fans suffered the two losses as well. We will never come across greatness like these two again.
So yes, Remy and Nicki provided us with a fun beef, but they were not the first, the last or even the most entertaining.
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I will not count Soulja and Chris Brown. I believe that the five I covered had the biggest impact on the game so far. These beefs were all about the bars. Nobody cared about how many followers the other one had, or how much money they were worth. It was all about the music, and it should stay that way when it comes to rap beefs. We see what can happen once it gets out of hand and outsiders are involved. Our favorite rappers end up losing more than reputations.
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Welcome to the family! Check your inbox for your confirmation. Who were your biggest influences? Hip Hop is an extremely powerful means of expression.
1979: Sylvia Robinson
If there is one thing you could change through Hip Hop, what would it be? Tell us about the music you have made? Do they all have a similar style or theme to them? Any favourites? Tell us a bit about the track? It's the same room where, thousands of years ago, crown moldings were born. He walks in and already waiting for him is a tight litter of reporters with their recording de-vices and their notebooks. This is the sort of intimate press thing where the celebrity talks about whatever product he is endorsing, and they serve cold sandwiches and hummus dip.
The product today is DJ Hero, a video game with which un-urban kids and guys in their mid-thirties with Costco memberships can scratch Jay-Z's beats from the suburbanness of their own homes. He sits down in his hard-backed chair and the reporters collect around him in a buttery little square. But Jay-Z doesn't really sit. What he actually does is slalom down in his chair, real low like it's a water slide. Seventy-three inches of all-black everything, laid out like a ramp.
Black sunglasses, too, to block the hotel light. He's cool and tall and black. He's witty and very cocky, but the cockiness is the unannoying kind you might admire. He speaks differently, more warmly, to women than to men. He might be winking but you can never tell behind the sunglasses. At forty, he's learned how to adjust for his audience, while the audience only notices that he's pretty cool, and even kind of like them. An un-urban white guy says, "Oh, word," after Jay-Z sublimely answers his question about an old-school gaming console.
When Jay-Z charmingly says he's so good at the game that he would destroy a female reporter at it, she laughs for too long. A few years ago, President Clinton did the same thing. Jay was in the president's ear at the Spotted Pig, the Manhattan restaurant he co-owns, and the president was doubled over, holding his belly, southern breathless, saying, "Stop. Stop it. You're killing me!
What's different here is that Jay-Z is not Bruce Springsteen. Jay-Z is a half-dangerous rapper who grew up in the gat-happy projects of the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. He sold crack on feral corners and shot his brother for stealing his ring. Badass, for real. So it's a little weird, isn't it, that he can make reporters and presidents alike giggle? The very next morning, back in New York, Jay-Z will be introduced by the real mayor of New York as a "great New Yorker" to New York screams at the ticker-tape parade, before performing his anthem and riding atop one of the Yankees' floats.
Around this time, the embattled governor of New York will call a reporter to confirm that Jay-Z has indeed been an inspiration during his recent rough patch. Governor Paterson says, "Jay tells me, 'I've got your back. But it's the other thing the governor brings up that's more interesting. Paterson says that every time he sees a Yankee hat, he thinks it's Jay, "because he understands branding. I would daresay there are few people who understand it better.
Ah, branding! It's how you make a product so dearly iconic that people say the brand name when they mean the item itself, like "Kleenex" for "tissue. In fact, he understands it so damn well that he's doing it differently than anyone ever has before, which is making him more famous than any hip-hop artist ever, and making him more money, too. But it's the unintentional part of what he's doing that's changing America forever. It wasn't always like this , the rapper mogul sitting at the conference-colored table, imprinting his brand upon the masses.
In his first office, when he was hooked up with thirsty, stop-at-nothing Harlem manager Damon Dash — the sort of man who tells you how hot his hot new things are until you either believe him or convince him that you do — roaches dog-paddled in the water cooler. They paid for everything in cash, rolls of fives and tens. It was amateur hour at the gangland Apollo.
Unprofessional as hell but gangster slick. During one show Jay-Z tossed stacks of bills into the crowd. But four years ago, Dash went the way of those bills. And now, today, on the amber floor of Jay's clothing line, Rocawear, the lack of gangster is glaring. Lots of pretty black females padding around on high heels, professionally greeting visitors, professionally lauding their boss. This is corporate, carpeted America, bright and federated, a glass warren of office spaces with several small but cool concept showrooms and gallons of clear, roachless water. Look up, left, and listen.
Jay-Z's vamping scowl is paraded everywhere, his presence vibrates from sound systems and is woven into the fabrics.
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You can smell Jay-Z in the rich notes of his new fragrance. More high-end stuff! What kind? Just high-end stuff! There is a hotel line with Jay's name on it in the works. There are meetings about signing new talent, designing more shoes.
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What Jay-Z actually does in those meetings is mythical, and irrelevant. Because what matters most deeply to every colleague, partner, and acolyte is the gift of saying that Jay-Z helped them arrive at a look, a sound, a smell, a decision. The jewel Jay-Z brings to every boardroom — the shining VVS diamond — is his name, his brand, his Jay-Z-ness, the glory of which is as unspecific as it is iconic.
Outside of the music and advertising industries, not many people know of the guy who cut and set the Jay-Z jewel. Damon Dash, in fact, is far better known. But you utter this other name in the music or ad worlds and there's a queer little nod, an "Oh, yeah, Steve Stoute.
Short and bald with a body type that plugs his surname, Steve Stoute is the underfamous but ubiquitous guy in all the celebrity pictures. Steve Stoute and Jay-Z. Steve Stoute and P. Steve Stoute and Mary J. Steve Stoute and Jay-Z again. Cock your head, wink, reach up and wrap your arm around your moneymaker, and He's black and also liquid-shiny like the mimetic shape-shifting bad guy in Terminator 2.
He's real deal-eyed, and what first comes off as arrogance you realize later is sentience, with an extra side of arrogance.