Beefing and battling are as old as hip-hop. Lyrics that brag and taunt create conflict between artists, from rap battles to chart-topping hits. But sometimes the insults go too far and clashes can lead to actual violence. This “beefing” can have serious consequences… including death. As part of Complex’s Get Money initiative, the eight-part series Rules to This Sh*t covers the trials and tribulations of embarking on a rap career, with words of wisdom from Common, N.O.R.E., Too Short, the late Nipsey Hussle, and more.
The first episode of Rules to This Sh*t tackled some cautionary tales about the record industry; the second episode is all about hip-hop beef.
“The Battle” offers varying perspectives on the topic, ranging from some of the earliest rap beefs that sprung up during the ‘80s and ‘90s, to trading shots online with “Twitter fingers.”
“If I say right now, ‘Fuck Chance the Rapper’—right?—essentially Chicago people gonna look at me and say, ‘This n***a saying fuck Chicago,’” explained N.O.R.E., who added it would be the same in New York City for Chance if he were to retaliate. “Beef and hip-hop is terrible, because you could actually call a person and say, ‘I think you dissed me.’ But the problem is, we don’t do that. Now before we know it, the Midwest and East Coast has a major war… Because of two idiots who couldn’t pick up the fucking phone.”
Others echoed his sentiments, with Cousin Stizz suggesting beef beyond the music is when it “starts to suck.” Of course it’s impossible to talk about the legacy of rap beefs without touching upon The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, with the late Nipsey Hussle among those who reflected on Pac’s importance to him when he was young. “My first time seeing Pac got killed… That was like Bob Marley or someone getting killed, or John Lennon. And then Big got killed, and I was like, the Twin Towers when the second one dropped. The first one went down, it was fucked up. And then the second one dropped, it was like, damn.”
Watch the second episode of Rules to This Sh*t above.