Many antagonisms, old and new, reared their heads in the rap world this week. Unsurprisingly, they all seemed to center around Game — an artist who, however uneven his output, has never shied away from a good battle. 50 went at Game, Game went at Shyne, Shyne returned fire. Now all we can hope for is that Game spits another 12-minute-long “500 Bars”-type tune in retaliation. Those songs have been among his career highlights, as much for the sense of fun as for the disses.
In addition to the feuds, a lot of veterans got their mojo back. Fabolous released a new mixtape, the Wu Tang/D-Block collaboration album (cleverly titled “Wu-Block”) came out, and even the enigmatic Yasiin Bey (known to most of us as Mos Def) resurfaced with a vicious freestyle. Below, the lines of the week.
5. “I tried to help ni**as get on, they turned around and spit/Right in my face, so Game and Buck both can suck a d**k”– 50 Cent, ‘My Life’ lyrics
While this is far from the best rhyme spit this — or any — week, we included it for the directness. We at RG sincerely hope that this line brings back the glory days of the G-Unit/Game feud (minus the stabbing at awards shows, of course). We miss Game’s constant “G-G-G-G- U-NOT” cries and his skits, which were often better than the dis records they preceded.
4. “It’s the greedy and the rich ones that make war/That the hungry, young, and poor ones pay for” — Yasiin Bey, ‘I Don’t Like Freestyle’ lyrics
Yasiin’s musical output over the past few years has been under the radar and sporadic, with flashes of intense brilliance. His tiny recent output with Black Star seemed to show his rhyming moving in a more abstract, poetic direction. This freestyle, though, is about as literal as can be, taking aim at both “white supremacists” and the “Afri-coon Americans” and “strip club rappers” on your radio dial. The fact that this couplet is straightforward doesn’t make it any less right-on, and sometimes big truths need to be stated simply and directly.
3. “Go crazy, I spit fire/Told baby my man be fresh, we big timers” — Vado, ‘Bad B*tches Everywhere’ lyrics
As huge fans of the Big Tymers, they of the immortal platinum football field, we were ecstatic to see Vado paying punning tribute. Vado plays on the group’s name, as well as those of its members, Baby and Mannie Fresh. We can only hope that he gets, say, a platinum kiddie pool or something in return.
2. “Cartel contacts, ni**as respond back/You could recoup quicker off a brick than a contract” — Jadakiss, ‘Own Thing (Remix)’ lyrics
Jadakiss, as a music industry veteran, has no doubt seen his share of bad contracts go down. Here, he lets the world know that it is in fact easier to make money as a drug dealer than as a rapper. Normally, we would dismiss this kind of thing as hyperbole, but we suspect, given the source, that there’s more than a little bit of truth hidden in this punchline.
1. “These street corners just overcrowded saunas/Biggest losers drop weight, sweating from the trauma” — GZA, ‘Drivin’ Round’ lyrics
The Wu-Block collaboration features an embarrassment of riches as far as rappers go. On this song, Sheek Louch, Masta Killa, and Ghostface all do a great job. But the Genius takes the cake. From the brilliant extended car metaphor that opens the verse to these evocative closing words, this verse is a masterpiece. Here, the puns (on TV shows, “weight”, sweating/saunas, etc) are in service of a larger point about the dangers of urban life — something that many a punchline rapper could learn from.