The Height of Social Media Beef

The Height of Social Media Beef

Gone are the days when a rap beef was settled on the mic. The eminence of the internet brings new rules: the most popular one is roasting your opponent on social media, and rappers have become quite skilled in this new element of hip-hop combat.

Rap is competitive and rappers are known for bragging about being the best – and ultimately, this is a call to their counterparts to step to them though their rhymes. The best battle tracks became so big that they attracted hip-hop audiences nationwide. However, soon enough rap rivalry expanded into “beef” where rappers quarrel through a number of platforms that usually become messy and sometimes violent. Rap beef has changed the way rappers feud today.

With an industry filled with much talent and even bigger egos, beef is foreseeable. Add in the tabloids and the media’s biased opinions and we have a recipe for intense tension on our hands. Then social media came along and everything changed for the worse. Social media caters to the impulsive nature of rappers, which usually comes out in the context of rap feuds. Social media affects how the conflict occurs, how the contenders execute, and how the spectators react.

Now, rappers no longer have to wait to respond or record a diss track, because they can “fire shots” in a matter of seconds. And right behind the artist who posts a jab on Twitter or Instagram, there will be immense amounts of people eating it all up and backing them up. It’s in real time and they get to be involved with what is going on. The hashtags and memes that follow from rap fans that have chosen a side is never ending and in a matter of minutes, this is the trending topic for a couple of days.

With the millions of followers an artist has, there is no surprise how much attention their tweets get – especially if it is a war of words against another rapper. Twitter and Instagram are both public arenas and when rappers are feuding, fans and other celebrities will also voice their opinions and take sides.

The most talked about rap feud last year was Drake versus Meek Mill. It all started when the Philly rapper insulted Drake on Twitter for allegedly using ghostwriters. After receiving no response from Drake, fans, other rappers, producers, and radio personalities quickly took sides on social media. The anticipation to hear from Drake was real. After a week of silence, Drake responded with  the song “Charged Up”.

And with the unenthused articles and tweets about the track, Drake hit back with “Back to Back”. Then came the memes, viral tweets and Instagram responses. When Meek released his “Wanna Know” comeback, the conversation that ensued went viral and kept that status for weeks. Drake could not help but become a part of it and he ended up posting an Instagram response by uploading a caption-less photo of him laughing.  

50 Cent is another rapper who does not shy away from beefing on social media. He is probably the most prolific social media “battler”. In the past, he has had feuds with Diddy, Meek Mill, Irv Gotti, Vivica Fox, just about everyone – have a scroll through Instagram for proof. 50 Cent has a comedic cadence with his words that makes even the cruelest insult laughable. With YouTube and Twitter as his other tools, 50 Cent has proved to be a social media strategist when it comes to the battle.

And we obviously cannot forget about Kanye, who can go ages without tweeting, but when his Twitter fingers itch, he cannot help but unload a fury of tweets.Recently, he went on a rant of 20 tweets against Wiz Khalifa, whom has expressed his feelings about the initial name given to Kanye’s album. Amber Rose jumped in and soon everyone was creating “fingers in the booty” memes.

Reaching this point, I realized I have dedicated 300 words for conflicts which most of you know in detail. Do you see how much time is wasted talking about this? A lot – which is precisely my point. Here I am, recapping theses stories for the reader, when this is not what the article is about. Do you see how, unconsciously, we allow matters like these to absorb us?

Frequent Tweeters and Instagrammers will say that this is what social media is for. The back and forth, the varied responses and memes are only entertainment. After all, it is all one big joke fest that should be taken lightly. While that may be true, a pressing question arises: just what are we using (wasting) our time on?

Social media can blow things out of proportions, which can then lead to a toxic environment for conversation. Let’s talk about Meek and Drake again. The Drake fans on social media got so deeply involved that they called a prosecutor and begged her to arrest and convict Meek Mill for a probation violation. Without knowing any legal details, they were willing to send him to jail. Let that sink in for a minute. While that could be more about Drake’s fans unwavering loyalty, you cannot ignore that this was partly fueled by social media. The pack mentality created here was taken to the extreme.

The social media community seems to be so consumed with what celebrities are doing, what the next scandal is, or what rapper is blasting another. It is not just about actual beef, but other remarks or attitudes that fans read into. What about things of real substance? Are you posting, creating trending topics about these things as well?

Did Twitter users talk about the time Fox New anchors accused Kendrick Lamar of sending the wrong message by performing “Alright” on top of a vandalized police car at the 2015 BET Awards? Were you involved in the conversation after Kanye brought out UK grime artists at his Brits Awards performance? What about the time when 2Chainz and Nancy Grace had a heated debate over the legalization of weed?

And let’s not forget the rappers who gave back to their communities last year: Ludacris, Big Sean and Young Jeezy. Akon set up his Solar Academy in Bamako, Mali in efforts to bring electricity to 600 million people in Africa. There are artists who are using these platforms for a better purpose. They are promoting the positive things they are involved in on their Instagram and Twitter. Are you taking heed?

If used right, social media could definitely be employed towards the greater good. Instead of these “beefs” that in fact limit the art, there are so many substantial topics one could be talking about. Rappers should remember the influence they have over their fans and how they can start thought provoking conversation and social change through just one 140-characters message.

While some of these instances led to greater social media debates, they were definitely not viral. This shows just how much attention we are giving to one thing over another. The masses and the media are obsessing about the wrong things. But what’s new?

Written by Chenae Rodrigues,

Visuals not owned by XXY Magazine LTD


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