DOES HIP HOP’S FASCINATION WITH HOLDING DOWN ITS THRONE POINT TOWARDS BIGGER ISSUES?
WORDS BY RYAN FORD
It wasn’t really a surprise to Hip Hop heads across the country when T.I. and Lil Flip began their very public war of words this past summer. After all, in the last couple of years, the genre has seen a never ending parade of battles. It was only a matter of time before the fertile Hip Hop breeding grounds of the New South followed suit.
However, there are some subtle differences concerning the Lil’ Flip/T.I. beef. For instance, there wasn’t any nasty crew fallout or misappropriation of dollars to spark the drama. In fact, both parties have bright, moneymaking
plentiful and there is enough opportunity for everyone to get their fair share, squabbling over something as trivial as a title is a waste of time.
“It’s so competitive now that MCs try to claim the crown right away,” explains DMC, one third of pioneering rap group Run DMC. “But you gotta really evaluate the conditions under which you are gonna crown yourself king.” Certainly, Hip Hop has long had an infatuation with holding down the throne. DMC’s group proclaimed two titles of exaltation: Kings of Rock and the Kings from Queens. Biggie was labeled King of New York by The Source only to see Nas and Jay Z fight for the title years after his death. Ice Cube once commanded the country to bow down and kiss the pinky ring of his West Coast domination. There are the Underground Kings (a.k.a. UGK), Slick Rick the Ruler, The Fresh Prince, Compton’s King Tee and Lil’ Kim, the Queen Bee.
But nowadays, Corporate America has invaded Hip Hop, turning these frivolous boasts and self proclamations into something more akin to rivalry annihilation. The business of rap caters to the Top Dog the one celebrated rapper who matters. But before you can be King of the Hill, you must first claim your empire.
futures. However, the major difference in this vocal rumble is the substantial moniker for which they are fighting: King of the South.
Initially, it was deemed presumptuous for two relative newcomers to struggle over such a weighty title. Although both had quickly garnered a fair amount of success, neither had moved a staggering amount of units. Even with nearly nine million records sold, Ludacris hasn’t called for the crown. Such an esteemed designation would be more appropriately reserved for Houston legend Scarface or Miami bass innovator Luke.
So why then would two well known and respected MCs make such a lofty claim? In today’s world of rap, where sneaker endorsements, label deals and TV commercials.