Dear Cardi, Nicki & JT: We Want Diss Tracks, Not Tweets

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (if you have, can I join you?), you know some of our favourite rappers have been in the news for their antics. And no, I’m not talking about Kanye’s blatant disrespect to Black folx at Paris Fashion Week or his anti-semetic rant. My elevated, post-mercury retrograde spirit won’t even allow me to process that madness. Instead, allow me to draw your attention stateside, to where the rap girls have been going at it on social media
First, rappers Cardi B and Akbar V traded shots on Twitter, which stemmed from an alleged subtweet from Akbar V doubting streaming numbers for Cardi B's remix of “Tomorrow 2” with up and coming artist, GloRilla, known for her breakout song "F.N.F. (Let's Go).” Akbar V wrote “If @chartdata ain’t say it we ain’t believing the CAP,” inspiring Cardi B to fire back in defence. Not even days later, a new Twitter feud arose between JT from City Girls and Cardi B. This time, it was due to JT intentionally not shouting out Cardi B when praising GloRilla for the same single’s charting success. 
Watching from the sidelines, Nicki Minaj saw this as an opportunity to get her lick back with Cardi B from previous feuds by changing her Twitter profile picture to JT. Cardi B followed up with a jab of her own, changing her profile picture to Nicki’s rival Remy Ma. If you were tuned into these online beefs and grew exhausted trying to keep up and decipher who was feuding with who or if you were wondering why these grown women took to Twitter instead of the studio, you weren’t alone.

Women rappers need to bring back the classic art of flexing and feuding over beats, not fighting on Twitter like locals. Turn the beef into art and let fans be the judge of who’s earned the crown.

What transpired among these artists is nothing new. Beef in hip-hop has been around since the inception of the genre, and many consider these feuds to be a revered aspect of the culture. Some of the biggest beefs in rap have produced some of the best music, and for that, fans have welcomed intense word sparring. One of the earliest war of words my millennial peers and I remember was between Biggie and Tupac. Two of the greatest rappers of all time leveraged their personal conflict into a series of powerful and ruthless records. Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya?” and Tupac’s Hit ‘Em Up” were diss tracks that hit well below the belt and also garnered undivided attention from fans. Of course, this historic beef is remembered most for the unfortunate violence it provoked, but it’s important to note that not all beef ends so tragically. 
Nas vs. Jay-Z is another rap rivalry that comes to mind, and while this match ultimately ended in public amends between the two, it was only after a heated exchange in a series of records, including “Ether” from Nas, which is arguably the greatest diss track in history. Back then, beefing with another artist was more than simply going tit for tat; it pushed rappers to step up their game and use their quarrels as fuel to create. That’s what us hip-hop fans still want. We want the madness to be put in the music.
Photo: Kevin Tachman/Getty Images.
Minaj and Cardi B before their infamous fight at the Met Gala in 2018
Despite what society may say, rap beef isn’t a boys club. Some of the most iconic women in rap have also produced some of the most notable feuds. Recall the shade thrown between Lil Kim and Foxy Brown in the late ‘90s as a result of their tarnished friendship. The two went to the same high school, appeared on magazine covers together and even collaborated on songs before their respective careers took off. Eventually, their relationship strained and diss tracks ensued. And let's not forget MC Lyte, who clashed with rival Antoinette in the ‘80s when female rappers were just beginning to solidify their footprint in the game. Women have been airing their grievances in their art for just as long as men.
But for as long as women have been in the genre, there has also been the belief that women rappers should be uplifting one another and teaming up more, based on the scarcity of them in the industry. On the other side, women are pitted against one another in rap, more than men are. It is unfair and sexist to think that women must be held to different and outdated behavioural standards than men. And as a fan, I want more of my favourite female rappers to collaborate because I know their joint endeavours will be fire, but I also know it’s unrealistic for all women to get along just because of societal expectations. That’s why I want them to channel their rage into art. Rather than trolling JT’s neighbourhood and posting it on Instagram, Cardi B should be in the studio coming up with a banger about their beef (which has reportedly since been squashed). When Nicki Minaj was feuding with Remy Ma, we got “Shether,” one of the best diss tracks in recent memory. And Minaj was forced to answer with her own (albeit lesser) lyrical prowess. 

We want lyrical superiority and bop-worthy battles, not just shots fired on social media.

Yes, times have changed. And to ignore the influence and easy access of social media would be negligent. Online platforms, which offer real-time updates from artists and intimate peeks into their lives, didn’t exist 25 years ago. Record labels have marketing plans for artists that include social media pushes. Public beefs fuel interest which, in turn, can boost an artist’s profile and impact streaming numbers. The disconnect that’s happening in these recent beefs is that there isn’t the full circle extension of twitter fingers evolving into music that we, as fans, can enjoy. We want lyrical superiority and bop-worthy battles, not just shots fired on social media. We’re only being given watered-down, cheap online insults without the true artistry we know these tensions can produce.
The fact is that women are dominating hip-hop now. From ladies like Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat climbing mainstream charts and empowering us to be our full selves, to artists like Big Latto and Lakeyah reminding audiences that lyricism is alive and well, there’s no shortage of women flourishing in rap. We hip-hop aficionados simply yearn for the ultimate jabs to be in the booth, not just dirty laundry aired out on social media. Can you imagine full diss tracks stemming from Nicki Minaj vs. Cardi B? We would eat them up, and it would save us time in piecing together storylines from tweets to get the real tea. 
Women rappers need to bring back the classic art of flexing and feuding over beats, not fighting on Twitter like locals. Turn the beef into art and let fans be the judge of who’s earned the crown.      

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