A little less than a year ago, Hua Hsu studied the effects of YouTube on hip-hop’s beef.
“For most of rap’s history, one-upmanship has been hip-hop’s engine of change. Recently, however, beefs have lost some of their creative spark, as battles have migrated from albums and mix tapes to YouTube. Today, a rapper with wounded pride is more likely to cut a made-for-YouTube video than to bother penning a vicious rhyme. The result: videos with laughably bad production values showcasing sloppy dis tracks (or worse, no track at all).”
The most damning evidence he provided heralding the death of the art of the diss was Cam’ron’s poolside declaration to 50 Cent that he hasn’t been hiding, he’s been on vacay, wearing beaters, boxers, and ankle socks.
The video was a marked downturn from Cam’s previous diss – which wasn’t amazing, but good enough to get me to involuntarily shout, “Cccuuurrrtttiiisss!” whenever I hear a 50 track – though if Hsu were handling the case of the degradation of hip-hop beef today, he’d find a new smoking gun in the hands of Ice T and Soulja Boy.
Here’s a rundown: It started when Ice T ranted on a recent mixtape that Soulja Boy “single-handedly killed hip-hop.” Soulja Boy responded by figuring out how many ways he can call Ice T old in seven-and-a-half minutes. Ice T then apologized, kinda, while Kanye gave Soulja Boy props from the sidelines.
All of this through blog posts and YouTube clips, unedited, unimpressive, and unsung.
Ice T and Soulja Boy are musicians. Both of them have made money and history in a genre with a rich pastime of encouraging rivalries and talking mad trash. Why they wouldn’t take this beef into a sound studio and write actual music rather than rave in front of a handheld camera accompanied by ambient noise speaks way more about the changing state of hip-hop than this Bar-Mitzvah generation’s Electric Slide.
The ease and immediacy of the new medium is too enticing a replacement to creating something that’s at all attuned to their craft.
In his not-apology, Ice T says, “There’s kids that go in the studio and really try to rap. They really sit down with pen and write stuff. Ya know what I’m sayin’?…I’m feelin’ cats like that, that take time to go in the studio and really write something.”
Me too, Ice, me too. Now get the in the booth and cut a track. This talking $%^@ is whack.