4 Lessons Music Creatives Should Learn From Past Beefs

The idea of a beef can be an entertaining or draining situation, depending on where you sit in the situation. If you’re watching from the sidelines, it can be really entertaining or annoying. If you’re a party within it, then it can be fun, draining or both, depending on the way you move through it.

Because of the Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj beef, and from looking back on other beefs and competitions in hip-hop, I thought I’d share four lessons urban music creatives can use to navigate their own paths if they are ever faced with any situations like it. 

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Winners shouldn’t be determined by the BARS, not album sales. 

One of the biggest things some folks, especially hardcore Nicki Minaj fans, argue in this beef is that Nicki is above Remy Ma because she’s an international star that makes a lot of money compared to Remy. Another thing folks say is that Remy Ma is a boring rapper that didn’t do well in her first week sales in her joint album with Fat Joe. I don’t like this reasoning.

This reasoning is unfair because neither one of them controls who buys their albums, they distribute their music differently, and are both at different points in their careers. Nicki has lots of sales because she is backed by many influential labels and is now more of a pop star than she is a rapper. Remy, who has a battle rapper background and sticks to that sound, released her album with Fat Joe, Plata O Plomo, on an indie label and an indie distribution company. Plus, Remy has to, in some cases, rebuild her brand because of her six years in prison, compared to Nicki, who has had an increasingly major brand over the past decade. They’re not on equal footing in that regard, and that doesn’t mean that Nicki’s better than Remy (or that Remy isn’t worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Nicki) because of it.  What we can judge them both on is their lyricism.

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A beef can be a good thing when it’s left on a track. 

Sometimes, artists can get really comfortable, especially when they don’t feel like they are being challenged. A beef, when done correctly, will get an artist to defend their reign or success, to make sure that they’re worthy of the spot that they claim they have. That’s with everything competitive, especially in hip-hop. All of these things should encourage an artist to come up with their most creative, jaw-dropping and memorable material. Creatives should use this time as an opportunity to be greater than they think they already are.

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Kanye West and 50 Cent on 106 & Park in 2007. Taken by Brad Barket of Getty Images.

End it peacefully and with more fans and attention (and even more money). 

I never want someone to have their life taken or altered negatively over a hip-hop beef, like Pac and Biggie. What I do hope is that any artists involved gain a bigger fan base, gain some money, and gain better opportunities because of it. One of my favorite examples of this is the competition between 50 Cent and Kanye West’s album releases in 2007. Even though 50 Cent lost the competition, they both came out on top in many ways. So, it didn’t end bad at all for 50. Artists should keep their brand and marketing in mind as they go through this process, no matter how it started. Most of all, have respect for the other artist(s) involved at the end of it all.  Look at Jay-Z and Nas’ relationship during and after their beef. It’s proof that everyone can win.

Birthday Bash Afterparty Featuring Meek Mill, DJ Drama And French Montana
Drake and Meek Mill in 2013. Taken by Prince Williams of FilmMagic.

Not responding to a diss track on record (especially in a timely manner) can be counterproductive to your credibility. 

We already see what this has done to Meek Mill in the case of his beef with Drake. However, I want to center this around Nicki Minaj. Most people can’t name five to ten female emcees out right now, so with very little names circulated when discussing women emcees, there’s even more competition to be on top. Choosing not to respond to a beef on record doesn’t do well in proving that you’re on top in the rap game. It lowkey shows defeat. I say this, especially in the case of Nicki Minaj because a woman who only raps with male rappers and singers, she hasn’t proven herself amongst other women rappers, only around male rappers, like on “Monster.” This could have been the best opportunity for Nicki to show that she is really better than other women rappers like Remy. Responding aggressively and relatively quick can be the best thing for an artist on the defensive side of a conflict.

Stay in touch with Amirah via Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at amirahrashidah.

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