Back in my day, when I first listened to Hip Hop in my teens, the favorite Hip Hop beef was the one between the UTFO crew and the Real Roxanne. Then there were the subsequent beefs against both acts that rode on the Roxanne beef wave, the most famous of which was probably the Juice Crew’s Roxanne Shante and her steady beef with UTFO and the Real Roxanne. Of course, these seemed rather fabricated when you considered the real old school beefs between the pioneer MCs who were accustomed to impromptu battles on the mic.
Kool Moe Dee vs. Busy Bee
As Busy Bee, MC original from back in the day, admitted, Kool Moe Dee “snapped” on him. Busy Bee was well-known for his braggadocio and so was Kool Moe Dee. In the old days, KMD just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to challenge another head-strong ego. The more bragging and the more bold the MC, the more Moe Dee would unleash on him. Moe Dee had a skill for taking what a bold MC said and flip it on him, turning it against him. That’s exactly what he did to Busy Bee way back in the day, as Busy Bee was busy trying to get the party fired up; Moe Dee intruded and fired on him with his stylish lyrics and the kind of smarts that eventually made him famous for years to come.
Kool Moe Dee vs. LL Cool J
Cool J was young and rich, famous for his commercial Rap hits and getting big. Too big for Moe Dee. Dee never seemed to like arrogance and the kind of braggadocio that just seemed kind of degrading and base. When Cool J bragged in one of his songs about “being 18 and making more than your Pops”, Moe Dee thought it was out of line; he couldn’t quite take a young ego boasting about money and degrading hard-working fathers. This led to Moe Dee putting out a series of diss records lambasting the young rapper and offering a challenge. No battle was ever had but the diss records from both sides continued for many years.
KRS ONE vs. Grandmaster Melle Mel
I don’t think very many people would consider challenging Melle Mel. The man’s a Hip Hop legend. However, Mel wasn’t too fond of these young bucks coming up in the Hip Hop game, trying to claim territory. Hip Hop is Mel’s world and he definitely could still put up a fight. He evidently invaded KRS ONE’s party and challenged him to a battle and, in true KRS ONE fashion, the Teacha obliged. This, of course, led to veiled references to the situation in KRS ONE’s songs subsequently; including the line, “old school artists don’t always burn”. Let’s let KRS tells up about that legendary event.
KRS ONE vs. The Juice Crew
KRS didn’t like the fact that MC Shan from the Juice Crew was trying to play like Hip Hop started in Queens. KRS, the Bronx native, took it personal. Well, everyone knows that Hip Hop started in the Bronx. Even us Hip Hop heads on the West Coast would admit that.
Boogie Down Productions, KRS ONE’s crew, put out a few diss records against the Juice Crew, the most famous of which is probably The Bridge is Over, but there is also South Bronx and various other references to the Juice Crew and its head Marley Marl in many KRS songs. Like Moe Dee, KRS just didn’t seem to like MCs claiming juice and not much else and going about spouting with false boasts. He laid into the whole crew, just about: Marley Marl, MC Shan and even Roxanne Shante.
By Napalm filled tires from York, Pennsylvania (Cappa Contrast) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
So, those were the old school Hip Hop battles when rappers still battled with their wits and lyrics. Of course, we’ve had many beefs over the years and they got more and more serious; a bit too serious, as I’m sure many of you know. Props to those vets that still laid down clever lyrics and put heart into the verse.
Featured image: By Mikamote (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I’ve been listening to Hip Hop music and exploring other aspects of the culture since the early 1980s, my teen years. I’ve seen it go through major changes. But there’s a common spirit underlying this Movement. Hip Hop Ya Don’t Stop!