In the wake of the recent skirmish between Joe Budden and Raekwon‘s entourage at Rock the Bells and the skewering remarks that Game has directed toward Jay-Z, the topic of beefs in Hip Hop has reared its head once again. For many of today’s rap fans they look at success of 50 Cent and him using beef as way to bring about much needed attention as the blueprint for navigating the maze we call the music industry. They also look at 50 as a pioneering figure who jumped all this off.
Its true that 50 is the poster child for beef. He’s definitely made it a science of sorts and will probably admit to it. But he’s by no means the first on this block. Before there was 50 we have to go back a good 18 years to a guy named Tim Dog who many claim set off the whole east-west coast drama when he released his song ‘Fuck Compton’ .
I wouldn’t say Tim Dog set off the east-west coast beef persay. First the east-west coast beef was really Bad Boy vs Death Row (Puffy vsSuge and 2pac vs Biggie). They had personal issues that spilled over into underlying simmering coastal tensions that had long existed even before Tim Dogg came along.
What was at the root was the perception of New York being resitent to artists and music from outside the 5 boroughs. More specifically the anger was really at New York based Hip Hop radio shows and publications like the Source where on air personalities and critics routinely dismissed and outright dissed Hip Hop music coming from other parts of the country.
From a New Yorker’s perspective the argument was very simple. The Big Apple was the Mecca and birthplace of Hip Hop and hence set the standard for all to follow or so they thought. If your music didn’t sound a certain way or your flows weren’t in step with the word mastery being executed by top NY based artist at the time, you were considered wack. Such pronouncements might find their way in print. They might be uttered on a popular radio show like Chuck Chillouts, Red Alerts, or Marley Marls. They were far too often reflected in record reviews.
Outside of NY especially in places like Cali, people were disheartned and then angered when folks would see or hear about their hometown heroes being publicly dissed. Here in Oakland, we all heard stories about artists like Too Short who were extremely popular, could easily pack a show and have thousands chanting along to his songs would go to NY and get booed at his own album release party. I was in NY at the New Music Seminar in 89 or 90 when famed A&R rep Dante Ross sat on a panel and talked about how Miami Bass which was popular throughout the south was wack. An enraged Luther Campbell aka Uncle Luke popped up out of his seat and rushed the stage ready to smash on Dante. Later Luke underscored what many outside of NY was feeling when he pointed out that NY rappers are always shown love on the radio and by the people all around the country, but as soon as folks come to NY the birthplace of a music and culture everyone loves it was outright disrespect. Luke was determined not to be disrespected that day… But New York never really changed. If you was from outside the city you weren’t gonna get too much love.. Whether you from Miami, Oakland or Compton..Enter NWA..
Niggas With Attitude did at the time what no other group outside NY could do capture the imagination and media attention of the country like their NY counterparts. They not only brought the spotlight to the west coast. They also let folks know what many of the indy west coast artists were already discovering which is you didn’t really need to go to NY to make it-There were 49 other states. NWA grew, gangsta rap grew, west coast Hip Hop grew, not just in popularity but also with cats getting money. What was also growing was the awareness that what NWA was speaking on was real-There was gang culture that was becoming bigger then life with each song and folks out west especially in LA were realishing in it…New York no longer had the same lure. The rest of the country especially the west coast had come up.
Compton was Hip Hop’s new Mecca when Tim Dog stepped on the scene and attempted to bring the spotlight back to NY.. His song Fuck Compton raised alot of eyebrows as he stepped to NWA hard with a song that was undeniably good..Tim got props when he addressed the controversy surrounding Dr Dre who at the time had made headlines for beating up female rapper and TV host Dee Barnes at an album release party for Eazy E’s group BWP (Bitches w/ Problems) party in front of dozens of artists. Tim came at Dre hard. What was even crazier was he had a video which they used to rock on the playboy channel and sometimes the Box. I look at the video now and I see a persona that would one day be a 50 Cent. The biggest irony to this whole thing is that Tim Dogg eventually moved to LA
Another track to catch where Tim Dogg cobntinued his lyrical assault and challnge to Compton and NWA was with the video ‘Step to Me’. You can peep the video here
Now after Tim Dogg dropped his joint there were a number of responses from West Coast groups including DJ Quik ‘Way 2 Funky’, Dr Dre with his infamous ‘Dre Day’ cut and Compton’s Most Wanted’ ‘Who’s Fucking Who’. One of my favorits came from Tweety Bird Locwho is from Kelly Park.. He got at Tim Dogg with this cut ‘South Bronx Can’t Touch Compton’
Dr Dre eventually came after Tim Dog in the song Dre Day where he got at Eazy E as well as Luther Campbell.. In this track Snoop goes after Tim Dog
People didn’t really trip too hard with Snoop going after Tim Dog in Dre Day. Tim’s image was never really shown as Snoop was able to further establish himself as an emcee by going toe to toe with him on the lyrical tip. Not sure if people remember but around that time Snoop was offering up a million dollars to anyone who could beat him in a freestyle. I need to check for the video we did where he spoke to me directly about that.. He was definitely all about perfecting his lyrical prowess. But people were pretty much feeling Snoop. What raised eyebrows and intensified the east-west coast thing above and beyond the Bad Boy vs Death Row beef was the video to New York, New York by the Dogg Pound where Snoop is kicking down buildings.
People raised the same objections about the video that west coast artists raised a few years ealier which was ‘Why dis us when we show you love’? The beef had also taken new levels because during the video shoot shots were fired at DPG after Biggie went on Hot 97 and spoke about West Coast cats being in town dissing the NY.
Tim Dogg put out a song responding to Snoop called ‘Bitch with a Perm’ but by then Snoop was riding high and Tim Dog was starting to be seen as yesterday’s news. The East-West Coast beef was in full effect and the Jiggy era was starting to impact Hip Hop.