Rap Is Outta Control

More

Chris Lee looks in at Azalea Banks who's looking to put heads to bed:

While precisely no one can claim to be surprised when a bonfire of hip-hop vanities boils over into outright "beef" between artists, a recent spate of feuds between female MCs-femcees, if you will-has been playing out across social media and over the airwaves, throwing the cutthroat stakes of rap stardom for women into stark relief. Even at a time when hip-hoppers with XX chromosomes are arguably gaining more mainstream traction than at any other point in the genre's history, the rap game has changed into a kind of Hunger Games for the fairer sex where only One can be victorious.

And within this hostile pop-cultural environment, hipsterdom, notions of authenticity, questions of race, and even old age butt up against one another while the co-sign of a male rap superstar can still help define a femcee's commercial viability. "Music is a competition," remarked Kreayshawn, another female MC who was recently embroiled in a beef with Azealia Banks. "And girls are more competitive than guys are."

With her "runaway slave master" tweet, Banks-a 20-year-old African-American rising star from Harlem--was referring to the Iggy Azalea track "D.R.U.G.S." in which the Australian raps: "Tire marks, tire marks/Finish line with the fire marks/When the relay starts/I'm a runaway slave...master."

I don't know that there's much gender analysis to be made here. It is mildly interesting that both the MCs Banks is beefing with are white. The Kreayshawn dis looks like an attempt to pick a fight, but again, there's nothing original there. Rap beefs are really tailor-made for the era of tweeting and headlines. As an aside, I really like that slave master. It strikes me as firmly in the tradition of hip-hop irony.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Saving Central: One High School's Struggle After Resegregation

Meet the students and staff at Tuscaloosa’s all-black Central High School in a short documentary film by Maisie Crow. 


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In