Sure, feuds have been in hip-hop since day one, but their shape has shifted. Initially, beef was solely musical and entirely innocuous. (Remember Moe Dee calling LL "Lousy Lame, Latent Lethargic, Lazy Lemon, Little Logic"?) Then beef became entirely non-musical and extremely fatal. (Remember Christopher Wallace and Tupac Shakur?) But it wasn't until beef took root in the arid-yet-strangely-fertile pastures of Twitter that it found its truest home.
For now beef can be both extremely personal and utterly inconsequential at the same time. Frank Ocean responding to Chris Brown's backhanded compliment by saying "I fucks wit Chris Brown, reminds me of a young Sisqo or Ike Turner" is one of the great rap disses of 2012 but it would have never occurred in song. Meanwhile, rappers like Azealia Banks have basically made an entire career out of beefing on Twitter.