If we are allowed to examine the circumstances surrounding rap beefs thoroughly you will agree with me that most rap beefs were masterminded by fans. Ego is also a factor, but fans are the true instigators. Just check the blogs, comments, or forums. Fans are constantly pitting artists against each other for sheer entertainment. It’s even more prominent now with the advent of the internet. Every day on social media you see people ask questions such as: “who’s the better rapper?” or “who had the better verse?” just to get reactions.
We’re used to rappers claiming superiority over their peers on wax. However, fans take it a step further by claiming their favorite is a better rapper/artist than his rival. Everyone gets riled up, and egos unfortunately get bruised. Artists eventually catch wind of the mostly negative comments and then run with it. [Case study: Nicki Minaj vs Cardi B].
Hip-hop Collaborations give us a chance to see some of our rappers together on records, but sometimes as fans, we can’t help but pick sides. We often listen with the sole intention of starting debates on who we think said what or we presume got “bodied.” Rappers are very much aware of these debates as well and are listening keenly to what is being said about them.
Hip hop is built around masochism and rappers will choose to ‘out-rap” you if the opportunity presents itself. You don’t want your competition stealing your spotlight, but at the same time, you also don’t want them cashing in on a lackluster verse either.
L-Tido Feat. K.O. “We Rollin”
Album: All Or Nothing
Word on the streets is, L-Tido was K.O’s first victim.
L-Tido and K.O traded punches for weeks on We Rollin, a bar-fest of a track that showcased the duo’s impeccable pen game. As dope as L-Tido’s verses were, the rapper still played second fiddle to K.O
For what it’s worth I don’t consider it an outright K.O. Tido fought hard with some hard punches in his second verse, but it still wasn’t enough to prevent him from ending with the L. Like the Mayweather, Pacquiao fight. The decisions are split.
Ice Prince Feat. Sarkodie “Shots On Shots”
Sarkodie is a true definition of “go hard or go home.” It’s almost as if the Ghanaian has no idea how to keep it simple on a track. Ice Prince invited Sarkodie to be his partner in rhyme on Shots On Shots, it turned out to be detrimental. While Ice was at peace with his quips and one-liners, Sarkodie came out swinging. The prolific rapper went super Saiyan in what is now regarded as one of his most incredible lyrical outings.
Da L.E.S. Feat. Bongz & Maggz “We On Fire”
Album: Fresh 2 Def
Maggz had a fiery feature run in the mid-’00s. He murdered every track he was on, but this one was arguably his meanest and most memorable. It was hard, direct, and threatening.
The rasp in his voice added believability and made you want to run up on your imaginary opps. Wanna be gangstas get excited at the idea of rapping along to his tough guy lyrics: “You dudes better shut up now or get shut [shot, It’s a double entendre].
This is peak African Hip Hop.
Maggz’s verse belongs in the rafters. And this track should be archived for future generations to study.
AKA Feat. K.O “Run Jozi” (Godly)
Producer: Sticky, Master A Flat and Tweezy
This one is slightly controversial because AKA almost levels up with his second verse, but K.O’s dexterity was the real game-changer. K.O rides the beat so well you almost wish his verse was much longer. The Cash Time founder elevated his flow, talked, his game, and remained “supa dupa clean” while doing it (It’s essential I point that out). We don’t get this same energy from K.O on features anymore, nevertheless, he has paid his dues and still remains an African hip hop young god.
Milli Feat. M.I Abaga “Back To The Future”
Producer: Reinhard and Don L37
Murderer: M.I Abaga
Being signed to M.I means you can easily call on him to jump on your track. But what happens when M goes on a rampage and forgets you’re the protege? M.I obliterates Milli on this record and makes it almost difficult for him to be taken seriously as a rapper. A year later, Milli’s career took a nose dive.
Where is Milli now? He recently released a new single titled Been A Long Time I Seen You.
Cassper Nyovest Feat. Black Thought “Ng’yekeleni”
Producer: Fenesse & LA-E
Murderer: Black Thought
Black Thought is undeniably one of the best lyricists of all time so this is sort of a no-brainer. No one expected Cassper to win this battle.
Nothing to be said, except for the interesting fact that my version of this song does not have Cassper Nyovest in it. As far as I’m concerned, “Ng’yekeleni” is a Black Thought song.
Ice Prince Feat. AKA ‘N Word’ Remix
Album: Fire Of Zamani
Producer: Don Jazzy
“I kill every verse and I kill every rapper that happens to be in the feature.” Err … no you don’t. It turns out Ice Prince was living in an alternate reality all these years because as far as I can recall he was the one always being murdered on tracks.
N word is one of those haunting records rappers use to assert their dominance over their peers. Renegade with Jay-Z and Eminem is a quick track that comes to mind. If the idea is to talk a big game then at least try to ensure you end up with the dominant verse, or maybe tell your collaborator to simmer down. To be fair, Ice held his own, but by the time AKA showed up, it became obvious he had let another rapper run amok on his own track.
AKA treated fans to a punchline clinic about putting his city on the map, while stylishly making fun of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign going on in Nigeria at the time.
“Its goan take more than Goodluck to bring
Your girls back.”
Goodluck Jonathan was the President of Nigeria at the height of the BBOG campaign. Over 200 Nigerian girls were reportedly kidnapped by members of the Boko Haram terrorist organization.
Joey B Feat. Sarkodie “La Bamba”
EP: Lava Feels
Sarkodie is a menace on features and needs to be treated as such. When Rick Ross and French Montana recorded Stay Schemin they were high as a kite in the studio and were mostly mumbling their words. It was supposed to be a lazy track, but a sobered Drake heard the beat, fell in love with the track, jumped on it, and subsequently recorded one of his best verses of all time. His verse, which included jibes at Common and Kobe Bryant’s estranged wife Vanessa, also added an extra layer to the song that got people talking.
Sarkodie on La Bamba is Drake. Perhaps no one told him to take it easy. This track is a reminder to always up your game whenever Sark is around. Otherwise, you get left in the dust. Sarkodie is still wanted for murder.
AKA Ft. YoungstaCpt “Main Ou’s”
First, middle, or last, it doesn’t matter where you put him, the outcome will be the same. Youngsta will go hard every time. AKA rightly doesn’t try to compete with his fellow light-skinned brother, but instead, he lets him fully take control of the track. It ends up as a win/win for both MCs but in the spirit of competition. Yougsta murdered him.
K’Naan Feat. Nas “Nothing To Lose”
EP: More Beautiful Than Silence
K’Naan had nothing to lose in this collaboration and was just happy to rhyme with one of his idols. But leave it to me to make it seem like he took an L. The track’s minimalist production was perfect for Nas to tell his Somali war tales.
In retrospect, K’Naan did not make good use of his Nas feature. His verses were subpar and very forgettable. Nas left him for dead and showed him how a real OG does it.
Stogie T Feat. Nasty C, Boity & Nadia Nakai “All You Do Is Talk”
Album: The Empire Of Sheep (Deluxe)
Is Boity a rapper? She more or less answered her critics with this verse. With Nasty C on hook duty and Stogie T probably too high to spit a decent 16, Boity saw an opportunity to stake her claim and she did it amongst some of the continent’s finest.