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Are There Any Rules in Hip-Hop Beef?

By nomo

Are there any boundaries on what can and cannot be said? Are there limits and unwritten rules to what can be utilized against your opponent? This question seems to question the artists’ morality more than anything.

I don’t think there are any rules as to what can be said in beef. Rap beef is like battle rap, except it isn’t live. Ultimately, in both rap beef and battle rap, the winner is decided by the fans, anyways, so they are the judge in the case of what is and is not crossing the line. What in some cases may be deemed as taking it too far is completely fair in others. Context and audience are key.

In one of the most famous rap beefs to date, Tupac made a diss song bragging about having sex with Biggie’s wife. Biggie makes a diss song poking fun at Tupac being shot. Tupac had beef with Biggie, because he believed Biggie was linked to him being shot, even though they were friends. Were there lines crossed? Did either rapper ever receive backlash for anything they said about or to the other person? No, they didn’t! Tupac was praised for clapping back at Biggie in such a manor, and people though Biggie was incredibly heartless after hearing “Who Shot Ya?”.

Recently, we witnessed beef between Drake and Pusha T. Pusha T initially sent shots at Drake from not writing his own songs, and Drake came back with “Duppy Freestyle” which took aim at Pusha T and his mentor, Kanye West, for being hypocritical about the ghostwriting, because Drake had ghostwritten for Kanye. When Pusha T claps back with shots at Drake’s friend and producer, 40, who has multiple sclerosis and claims that Drake is a deadbeat father to a child he’s hiding from the world. Drake claims that Pusha T took it too far, and that the beef would transcend music and manifest into a physical altercation, because of it.

Is it okay to poke fun at people who can’t help themselves? I feel that this is an effective way to get under the skin of the person you’re attacking, but it’s a dirty play, and you’re willing to dish out dirt, you have to be willing to take some, too. Pusha T attacking 40 who has MS is a little uncalled for, and it really got under Drake’s skin, and I’m sure that’s all he was really worried about.

Are there rules about what can be done in rap beef? I think that any physical violence or crime is taking it too far. At some point, you have to accept your loss. There is never a need for a physical altercation, especially when the beef was intended to be settled through music anyways.

It’s just like battle rap. Everything is situational, and if the audience isn’t feeling it, you’re going to lose. There really are no understood rules in beef, but trust me when I say you’ll understand if you lost.