Hip Hop feuds (beefs) have been around since just about the beginning of Hip Hop's storied history. It is when two or more Hip Hop artists defame each other based on their competitiveness. It has been a part of Hip Hop ever since MCs (master of ceremonies) took up the mic to hype up the crowd during various block parties. Sometimes these MCs would diss their rivals, which often resulted in violence. The famous feuds between KRS-One and MC Shan, the West Coast-East Coast rivalry in the 90s, Jay-Z and NAS beef of 2001, and more recently, Kendrick Lamar vs. New York; has often been credited for keeping Hip Hop in the public spotlight.
Beefs can be expressed through dissing their rivals on tracks, confronting one another at public events, dissing their rivals in interviews on the radio or written publications, and dissing their rivals on stage during performances. The biggest feud in Hip Hop history has to be the one between the West Coast and the East Coast, where both Notorious B.I.G. and 2pac both were killed (both of which were the main representatives of their respective coasts during the 90s). Their open disses against the rival coasts on various tracks, fueled a violent culture in the Hip Hop community in the 90s and early 2000s. It appeared that an MC was dying every week because of street level confrontations (a lot of the record companies during this period, were connecting to the drug and gang underworlds which fueled local disputes).
The Feud That Fueled Hip Hop...
KRS-One and MC Shan, had a very well known beef that started in the mid 80s. It started because of Marley Marl and MC Shan's track The Bridge, which came out in late 1985. In the track, they claimed that Queensbridge was where Hip Hop started. KRS-One got offended about this and went on the attack, that was when he and Scott La Rock came out with the famous track, South Bronx. In KRS-One's track, he claimed that the real home for Hip Hop is in the South Bronx. This feud got the whole Juice Crew involved and they began taking shots at Scott La Rock and KRS-One.
In 1987, Scott La Rock was shot and killed by one of Boogie Down Productions, D-Nice, over a domestic dispute. This caused a cease-fire between the two camps and KRS-One concentrated more on his Stop the Violence movement. Out of respect, the Juice Crew didn't release a diss until two years later in 1989 when MC Shan released a song Juice Crew Law that took many shots at KRS-One. KRS took one year to respond to the diss in a song off the Boogie Down Productions album release, Edutainment with the song, Black Man in Effect.
In time, the fans and artists in the Hip Hop community recognized KRS-One as the victor of the beef. KRS-One's Hip Hop career still continues to flourish, while MC Shan was sort of forced to retire because of loss of reputation. This beef, really brought a big spotlight onto the stage that is known as Hip Hop and brought a lot of new listeners to it. Nothing like this was ever seen before in music, so it was intriguing to many people.
The West Coast vs. the East Coast...
The coastal feud when you look at, was really caused because of the ever expanding market of Hip Hop into popular culture. In the early 90s, the West Coast started to take over the Hip Hop market through the record company of Death Row Records (which was mainly run by Dr. Dre and Suge Knight). It's biggest rival was one that resided in the East Coast, Bad Boy Records (which was run primarily by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs). When you look at this beef that seemed to only escalate as each day went by, it was all about money and control of the music genre.
Once N.W.A. created gangster rap, the world couldn't get enough of it. Once the group disbanded, each member ran their own respective record companies and movements with in the style that really helped take over the rap sales from the East. Suge Knight escalated the feud in interviews and at music awards appearances that led to the shooting of Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound's trailer while shooting a video for the song called, New York, New York, in Manhattan (1995). The video caused an even bigger rift between the two coasts because it showed them knocking down New York skyscrapers, which caused Capone-N-Noreaga to write a song called L.A. L.A. featuring Mobb Deep.
Once Notorious B.I.G. released the song Who Shot Ya, in 1995, 2pac took this as a track that openly mocked his '94 shooting and then came out with a track in early '96 called Hit 'Em Up, claiming he had an affair with his wife, Faith Evans. He also pointed out in the song that this was not a rap battle that they were coming to kill them. Pac dissed Biggie, Puffy, and Bad Boy records on numerous tracks for the rest of his career.
Notorious responded to 2pac in the track with Jay-Z called Brooklyn's Finest. This caused further escalation between Bad Boy and Death Row, that in mid 1996 at the Soul Train Awards, both Death Row and Bad Boy got into an armed standoff in the parking lot (Bad Boy had Crips as bodyguards and Death Row had Bloods). The escalation continued and resulted in the shooting and death of both Tupac and Biggie. That was when Louis Farrakhan got the two sides to meet which pretty much ended the beef.
I hope you enjoyed The History of the Hip Hop Beef-Part One, stay tuned for part two. Below are some links to relevant tracks from the early era of the Hip Hop beefs.
Here is a link to South Bronx:
Here is a link to The Bridge:
Here is a link to Brooklyn's Finest:
Here is a link to Hit 'Em Up:
written by: Craig Ludwig