Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Storm

Although the current climate of Hip-Hop has been described as resembling the theatrics of professional wrestling, where battles are mere stunts to drum up publicity, there remain a couple unresolved confrontations in the world of rap that don't have their origins necessarily based in a marketing scheme, 50 Cent versus Nas, for example. Yes, more recently there has been an exchange of rather questionable taunts between the two, mixtape skits to mixtape covers, but whatever feud is there has a history at least, more than what the Kevin Nash's and Goldberg's of the game can claim.

Back before any friction started, these fellow Queens residents were actually friendly. In fact, Nas brought 50 Cent, and Tony Yayo, along for his 1999 Nastradamus tour. Part of the reason then for Nas' encouragement stemmed from the buzz over the now-infamous How To Rob, 50's slash and burn classic. There, while just about every name in the industry is called out and strung up, Nas isn't mentioned, further proof of the respect shared between the two artists at the time. (On the song Life's On The Line, the Southside Queens rapper also says, "now here's a list of MC's that can kill you in eight bars: / 50, umm, Jay-Z and Nas.") The duo even collaborated twice, once on the murky Who U Rep With and again with the nod-ready Projects Too Hot. However, as we all know, a thug changes, and love changes, and best friends become rivals. And that rivalry, to some degree, seems to have started with a rather worthless Jennifer Lopez remix.

Landing in the ten spot on the Billboard Top 100 charts, Lopez's I'm Gonna Be Alright remix equaled another smash for the faux R&B singer and some crossover, though questionable, success for Nas. However, the 50 Cent fallout would take place off the dial . Apparently pushed out by behind-the-scenes maneuverings from Irv Gotti, 50, who had put down his vocals to the remix before Nas was ever greenlit, felt obviously slighted. Add that to the fact that Irv Gotti / Murder Inc had been involved and that Nas would soon partner with the label, and it becomes clear why the friendship began to fracture.

In hindsight, maybe blowing up on a Jennifer Lopez remix wouldn't have quite been the blessing 50 initially took it to be. He still dropped Wanksta, still hit platinum pay dirt with Get Rich Or Die Tryin, and still has remained more commercially viable than most other dudes out there now. He's faced criticism from heads and housewives, dealt with the labels of sellout and snitch, and persevered past it all. (Jungle, Nas' younger brother, even called out "CJ" for working with the cops, on the track Bravehearted.) But, in part, this growing 50 Cent backlash springs from him having beef with more rappers than most Christian groups do. So as the likes of Jadakiss, Ja Rule, Fat Joe, The Game, Nas, Joe Budden, Dipset, AZ, Shyne, Puff Daddy, Lil' Kim . . . get added to the tally, the once underdog MC turns into the bully rapper and loses support. However, again, unlike all those, Nas and 50's tension appears more long-running and might have really taken off from something Nas actually said.

In the summer of 2004, with Curtis Jackson mania just about at its peak, Nas took to New York's Central Park for a free concert. The rapper, all trumped up from the crowd's strong reception and his return to Hip-Hop after a two year absence, decided to give the frenzy of fans a bit extra, "this is that real New York shit, not that fake 50 Cent shit!" While Nas claims that snipes were exchanged on the low previously, this was ultimately the grenade pin dropping that took the feud public. In turn, 50 Cent responded with a mixtape jab, Y'All Niggas Starvin', and, finally, Piggy Bank, off of 2005's The Massacre. Piggy Bank's main tactic was to attack Nas' relationship with Kelis, "you a sucka for love", and, over time, the shots have continued; 50 has further lampooned everything from Nas' baby mother to his business with Jay-Z and recent poor album sales. For his part, on record at least, Nas has maintained a consistent no-comment approach. However, that approach did open up a little in the middle of 2005.

Don't Body Yaself, also known as MC Burial, was a return of fire, an open letter to the "'Fuck Nas' Coalition." In the song's first verse, though unnamed, Cormega and Lake, former QB partners of Nas', are the focus, "when y'all was trying to rap, y'all was making me proud, man / now you fucked up, down on your luck, running your mouth, man." The second verse then proves to be more an intermission of sorts, essentially a lead up to the main event, "they say Jada defeated him / Joe too street for him / what's next? I guess it's for Nas to Ether him." Overall though, Don't Body Yaself warrants its "warning shot" reputation, because, while Nas does check the "sucka for love" depiction ("you a sucka for death"), 50 Cent is never explicitly mentioned, and, curiously, half the third verse is concerned with giving a definition of "ethereal." Yet, in a very sly manner, at the end, Nas does manage to sneak in a cold shot to make the diss worthwhile, "will it be Gilmore or Crowes? / nigga, act like you know." This final line is a reference to two funeral homes, Gilmore and Crowe's, in 50 Cent's native Jamaica, Queens.

50 Cent f/ Nas, Nature: Projects Too Hot
50 Cent f/ Nas, The Bravehearts: Who U Rep With
Nas: Don't Body Yaself
Bonus: 50 Cent: Piggy Bank
Bonus: The Bravehearts f/ Nas: Bravehearted


Blogger Fletch said...

Nas interview from Scratch Magazine swipe:

You have a lot of history with 50 cent. Is this more personal than your average rap beef?

What's crazy is that the nigga never gave me a phone call after he blew up, and as much as he was around me I never knew how angry he was. I used to have him with me and I'd see him get mad at the crowd back then, but I liked his determination. I thought it was something that would go away once he made it happen. I've seen him do things you can't come back from. Once you deal with telling the cops something, you can't come back from that. And I saw it years ago. And I had a lot of love for that dude. I ain't gonna lie, even today I wish I could get on the phone with the nigga and laugh about how you was with the Trackmasters, Jam Master Jay, and in videos with Onyx on hockey sticks, now look where you at. Any nigga that can come up deserves it, but I don't respect how he gonna be mad at everybody. I read an interview where he dissed his grandparents. I think he need to know that there's real niggas out here he can clique with and he don't gotta think it's him against everybody. There can be redemption.

I can't keep track of who is beefin' with who anymore. There needs to be a flowchart.

What 50 Cent does not understand is that Tupac was real. And I don't mean the way hip-hop niggas, industry niggas, or Internet niggas say real. I mean mind, body, and soul warrior real. Pac was younger than we are now and you still got a nigga like 50 trying to imitate him when he ain't gotta do that. When Biggie and Pac died they were younger than all of us! And 50 Cent's name will never be amongst real niggas and that's killin' him right now. But the baddest niggas have to humble themselves sometimes. From Jesse James to Jesse Jackson, the baddest dudes have to come to some humility in they life. Humble yourself.
The main reason I upped Bravehearted was to let y'all hear Nas' verse. It's one of his most "out there", and, as such, always garners a mixed reaction.
The art of speculation:

On the song Nazarath Savage, Nas raps, "my cavalry woulda been through ten in your skin." Sumbliminal diss to 50 Cent, referencing him being shot at 9 times and living? (There's also mention of the word "massacre", the eventual title of 50's 2nd album.)

September 05, 2006 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this site is the shit, i come here everyday.

keep up the good work

September 06, 2006 2:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

''I read an interview where he dissed his grandparents.''

I would love to read that interview.

September 06, 2006 4:20 PM  
Blogger Game Theory said...

I'll admit, the first time I heard 'Don't Body Yaself', I was a little dissapointed at his delivery, especially the last verse. Then I got it playing in my car and now I think he killed that track. 'Bravehearted' was the only song on that Bravehearts CD i liked(and yes i bought it).

September 07, 2006 2:08 PM  
Blogger Sub said...

Don't Body Yaslef, while a warning shot...wasnt a very memorable. And, I belive people expected a bit more. I know I did.

September 08, 2006 6:44 AM  
Blogger MiThRaZoR said...

If that track was out there, like to the mainstream, Nas could have killed 50 with just warning shots. =\

That's some mad shit.

As always, nice shit Fletch.

September 08, 2006 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember first hearing this, the build up at the start had me thinking this was either part 2. But I was let down, listening back I think it's a hot song, but nothing more than a warning shot diss wise.

September 09, 2006 4:41 AM  

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