Rappers’ beefs sizzle on social media
Lupe Fiasco was brainstorming tweets that might set the world on its ear.
His representative from Atlantic Records tensed, looked up and rolled his eyes.
“This guy — everything he tweets starts a discussion,” he said. “The good and the bad.”
This exchange was weeks after Fiasco found himself embroiled in a brief but now notorious Twitter exchange with fellow Chicago rapper Chief Keef (Fiasco said in an interview that Keef scared him, Keef tweeted his intention to “smack” Fiasco) and just days after Fiasco traded 140-character barbs with comic D.L. Hughley (who reacted negatively to a Fiasco statement discouraging voting).
In 2012, when rappers throw down, it’s off the record — literally.
The days of East Coast/West Coast-style disses, communicated via snarky rhymes on albums and singles and delivered weeks or even months after the original offense, have waned. Today, the genre’s famous flip remarks, wicked critiques and occasional threats are transmitted in real time through social media.
Twitter, in particular, has been the modern rapper’s choice for soapbox, megaphone and boxing ring since the service debuted just six years ago. But the off-the-cuff nature of tweets means disses drop in the heat of the moment and wars of words escalate — often to the brink of offline violence.
As if legitimizing his online one-liners as a medium of equal importance to his music, Kanye West told Us magazine earlier this year, “If I don’t say something in a rap or on Twitter, it’s not true.”
Like many Chicago-native MCs, West has used Twitter to maximum effect — showing his latest furniture purchases, sharing photos of girlfriend Kim Kardashian and offering his many public apologies. (Mysteriously, however, West deleted all his tweets last week, leaving behind only a typically cryptic post: “BE BACK SOON.”) Rhymefest, too, has used Twitter as an important outlet — both professional (his 2010 campaign for Chicago City Council) and personal (his tweets during the presidential debates this season have been spot-on and full of zingers). Fans also know Twitter as an arena for a few famous feuds, such as:
• 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule: Last year, 50 retweeted a post about Ja Rule pleading guilty to tax evasion and then suggested this was the only headline Ja Rule could generate anymore. Ja Rule wrote the comments off to a “ho ass n - - - -.” Fiddy is a fighter, not a lover: He was burning up his feed just this week, barking back at French Montana’s claims that 50 damages his own career with these very quarrels.
• Ciara vs. Rihanna: After talking smack about Rihanna on the cable series “Fashion Police,” these two transferred the sniping to Twitter, where Ciara warned: “trust me Rihanna u don’t want to see me on or off the stage.”
• Chris Brown vs. everyone: In the last year, the beleaguered Brown has fought in his feed with Frank Ocean, John Legend, Brian McKnight, even Rihanna and, of course, thrown digital bottles at Drake.