Justin: Jay is less so a rapper, more so a hip-hop deity these days, and while it’s impossible to tarnish his legacy as I know it, there’s a younger generation that may see Jay Z vs. Kanye such as many saw KRS-One vs Nelly: as a curmudgeon limping off like a sore winner. I’d hate to see Jay recede like that.
With Kanye, I think there’s diminishing returns on the music he makes from sadness and rage. I say that as someone who loves Yeezus but can’t wish that the rest of Kanye’s career sounds like Yeezus or even “Sanctified.” Much of the Taylor Swift backlash, way back when, wasn’t so much about everyone loving the white girl as it was about Kanye having exhausted America’s tolerance for his bombast. Kanye overreaches. He gets ahead of himself. Occaissionaly, he faceplants.
Maybe competition between them would jolt the batteries in their backs, but I think it’s mostly likely this would all play out as a digression and distraction from new music. Jay is a lifestyle memoirist. Kanye is a trill-pop god. They should flourish in their respective lanes.
Insanul: I feel like any high profile rap beef where rappers don’t end up shooting each other is kinda good for the culture. Rappers having “beef” has been corny ever since 50 Cent used it to promote his albums. But if that GQ cover story on Kendrick Lamar proved anything, it’s that the mainstream rap press still thinks of rap in terms of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry (which they must seem to think is still going on).
You’re right that Jay Z comes off as a “class act” and that’s why I appreciate Jay so much. I want rap to look classy so people can take it more seriously as a form of art, and not just some buffoonery of the Love & Hip Hop or WSHH variety (though, I must admit I’m often highly entertained by WSHH). If these two really did beef, the whole world would be watching. Those who didn’t know better would be waiting for someone to get snuffed and that won’t happen. Which is the exact sort of backwards ass accomplishment I count as a victory.