A perfect place to start is at the beginning. Back in 1985, two of the biggest crews in hip-hop, Boogie Down Productions and the Juice Crew battled over where they thought the rightful birthplace of hip hop was. Juice Crew released a song called 'The Bridge' where MC Shan claimed that hip hop originated in Queensbridge.
"You love to hear the story, again and again,
of how it all got started way back when,
The monument is right in your face,
Sit and listen for a while to the name of the place,
The Bridge, Queensbridge."
(However this claim was later retracted as MC Shan said he was talking about the birthplace of the Juice Crew and himself and that he believed hip-hop started in the South Bronx.) This song was heard by man and so led to Boogie Down Productions and KRS-One replying with the song 'South Bronx' as they were adamant that hip hop was born in South Bronx. On the song, KRS said:
"Party people in the place to be, KRS-One attacks,
ya got dropped off MCA cause the rhymes you wrote was wack,
So you think that hip-hop had its start out in Queensbridge,
If you popped that junk up in the Bronx you might not live."
Over the following years, many verbal insults were directed at both camps on tracks including: 'Kill that Noise', 'Bridge is Over', 'Beat down KRS' and 'Moshitup' with other rappers such as Buthcy B and Poet standing in support of the Juice Crew. Poet even took verbal shots at KRS's then wife, Ms Melodie on the track 'Taking U Out' to which KRS replied by calling Poet 'soft' and 'uncreative' on the song 'Still Number 1, the Numero Uno Mix'. KRS never replied to Poet targeting his wife and later said that he didn't want to fall down to their level.
Both sides had their respective triumphs and downfalls. KRS-One and BDP went on to release 'Edutainment', a concept album that gained them credible acclaim and notoriety while MC Shan was regarded as the loser of the battle (even though there has never been one) as he slipped into obscurity and later retired. On the track 'Rising' featuring both KRS-One and Marley Marl, KRS-One explains that he used the popularity of answer records to gain exposure and carve out a career for him and BDP:
"Answer records were big then;
after Shante did it, everyone was trying to spit them.
So we spit on...
To tell you the truth, it was the only way a MC could get on.
We answered MC Shan's "Queensbridge";
A dope jam about where he was from and where he lived;
but in the Bronx there was these kids KRS, Scott La Rock tryin' to live.."
They have since retired the beef but during the nineties, it was referred to in the lyrics of Nas, 2 Pac, Big Pun and Chino XL and both parties have acknowledged the important place the beef holds in hip hop history. It brought both crews into the limelight and showed off their lyrical wordplay in a variety of settings. They set the benchmark for hip hop battles and showed how to keep it strictly lyrical,an issue that would later come into threat…