In 1997, The Notorious B.I.G. released the song “What’s Beef”, breaking down plain as day what the word means:
“Beef is when you need two Gats to go to sleep
Beef is when your moms ain’t safe up in the streets”
Wise words by an MC who felt every sense of the word.
Hip-hop was born in the inner cities, carried by the Black youth that contributed heavily to its foundation and continue to steer its flow.
The streets gave us hip-hop.
The streets don’t just simply talk. They give us stories, letting us know the raw and uncut details of what is surrounding young Black kids; lyrically highlighting how repeating cycles keep lower-income environments in a paralysis of despair and depression.
Rap has been used as an outlet, and in most cases as a war report, from Queens, New York to Compton, California. From the South Side of Chicago to Jacksonville, Florida, the wars that exist right now block-to-block throughout the United States are vividly illustrated through song lyrics by those seeing it firsthand—the people on the frontlines being traumatized by the actions of rival neighborhoods, gangs, and street affiliates.
During hip-hop’s arrival, it didn’t take long before street politics got involved in the business. Rappers have been bangin’ on wax since the ‘90s, widely considered the golden age of hip-hop and the height of the gangster rap scene. We went from reality rap, to gangster rap, to drill rap, and now because there has been an influx of new talent relating to specific events in real time, including the murders of real people, we are now in the era of beef rap.
We have seen the youth embrace Chicago’s drill scene where Black Disciples and their rivals, the Gangster Disciples, have made a name for themselves name-dropping their dead oppositions, taunting those who are affiliates with the deceased and smoking a blunt in remembrance of fallen opposition, or an “opp pack.” Specifically, the violence and taunting originated by Chief Keef and his crew has spawned a new breed of bangin’ on wax.
Jacksonville has recently been on the rise, most notably due to the rap feud between Foolio and Youngeen Ace. Like Rozay once said though, it’s deeper than rap. Youngeen Ace and members of his ATK crew (Spinabenz, Woppa Wit Da Choppa, and FastMoney Goon) went viral earlier this year for remixing the famous “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton. The remix is called “Who I Smoke”, claiming they are smoking on Foolio’s dead homies, going so far as name-dropping them in the hook of the song.
Vanessa Carlton would later clear the song for streaming. Why did she do that, mainstreaming awareness of young Black men and boys dying senselessly?
This writer has no idea.
Lots of folks were upset with Vanessa Carlton for taking a wholesome song that once stole a lot of hearts and allowing it to be an opp pack anthem. In response to the backlash, Vanessa tweeted, “To the white folks that have expressed anger/shock over my approval A Thousand Miles’ usage in Spinabenz, Woppa Wit Da Choppa, Youngeen Ace, and FastMoney Goon song Who I Smoke, I invite you to ask yourself why you feel this way and then read this:” sharing a link to a McNair Scholars Research Journal article titled, “Share Cropping Blackness: White Supremacy and the Hyper-Consumption of Black Popular Culture.”
Carlton would go on to say that white musicians incorporating violence in their music get looked at more artistically and often it is even considered cinematic.
While I get her point there, violence among Black youth should not be overlooked to preserve the perverted sensationalism of “Black on Black crime.”
These anthems are latched on to by the industry to indoctrinate young African Americans on a path of self destruction.
The song mentions Foolio’s dead homies and the circumstances in which they have died. The ending verse from FastMoney Goon details how one of Foolio’s affiliates was caught off guard while leaving their place of employment; “Find out where that boy works and that boy clocked him out.”
In the music video they are on a golf course, riding a caddy, smoking cubans, just having a blast. You’d think they are rich kids from Bel-Air, but nah, these young guys are vengeful. This crew is spiteful towards their sworn enemies with no regard for who is offended, nor whose lives are still at risk. This remix resembled nothing from its predecessor. Instead, it has been steered in a whole other direction, to the valley of the shadow of death.
Foolio’s response could not have been more heinous. Taking a page from Youngeen Ace and the ATK crew, he decided to do a remix of Fantasia’s classic “When I See U” and spin it to another spin the block-style record. In the video to this remix, which went viral, Foolio is seen in all black at the gravesite of his rival who is ATK affiliated. Midway into the verse, he wishes that his enemies who are locked up would be released already, so that they may meet their demise.
“Don’t wish jail on nobody, I swear they need to free that man
So he can catch a headshot
Pole his ass, red dot
I smoke so much, boy, I fell in love with dead opps.”
On mute, you would think this guy was paying tribute to the dead homies, but the reality of it is that he is on get-back mode in the worst way. It is one thing to say in your song that you are smoking on the opp’s dead homies while you are on video chiefing a fat-ass Backwood with a smile on your face, but to be at someone’s gravesite waving their picture around with liquor in your hand and still dissing more folks that are associated with the deceased? There is something off in the membrane.
Trauma and tragedy runs its course heavily in rap lyrics. Hip-hop once had a message of unity, inspired by the teachings of the Nation of Islam and the Black Panther Party. Gangster rap fucked the game up. Drill amplified the damage. Now rappers are just beefing to an instrumental. Is this real hip-hop? Real rap? If you ask me, no the hell it ain’t and we are legit losing our damn minds entertaining this bullshit.
From an objective standpoint, the music is not terrible if you just tryna be turnt up. However, where do we draw the line?
When are we going to put these “rappers” out of business for selling poison to the impressionable youth whose minds and bodies we must protect at all cost?
Stop the violence Black man. You deserve a future.