Why The Iggy / Nicki Beef Is Good For Hip Hop

At the BET awards, Nicki Minaj sent the world abuzz, when she threw the shade of an ancient elm tree Iggy Azelea’s way...
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After accepting her award for best female rapper Nicki spoke about transcending the role of a “female rapper” into simply a “rapper,” which she has absolutely done with her extensive and lucrative track history.  On her feature verse on the “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” track “Monster,”  she out rapped the Hip-Hop dual monarchy of Kanye and Jay-Z. She has earned her place among the rap elite.

Perhaps because of her history of success, Nicki has felt a tad under appreciated as of late with the meteoric rise of the Australian sensation, Iggy Azelea, who has taken the world by storm with her omnipresent single “Fancy” and other solid efforts off her album “the New Classic.”

Azalea’s success led to the least hip-hop qualified magazine in the world, Forbes, to run the since-retracted headline “Hip Hop Is Run By A White, Blonde, Australian Woman.” It is a headline that is designed to get clicks, without really having any sort of factual basis. Azalea is a rising star in the game with a few popular singles and a solid album, but is lightyears away from controlling Hip-Hop.

Although Minaj dismissed Forbes and the headline, she had been bothered. These feelings surfaced during her acceptance speech for Female Rapper of the Year, when she proclaimed, “when you hear Nicki Minaj spit, Nicki Minaj wrote it” then she did a head turn so sassy that Regina George would have been proud. Immediately after, she said “No, no, no, no, shade” but her apology had about the same weight as Luis Suarez’s promise to never bite again.

Many perceived this to be shade cast over Azalea, who although is credited for writing some of her tracks, is not credited for writing all of them, including her massive single, “Fancy.”

Minaj’s putting of the new-comer in her place continues the time honored tradition of rivalry in Hip-Hop. From Jay-Z and Nas to the tragedy of Biggie and Tupac, Hip-Hop has always thrived on a steady diet of beef. Hip-Hop is rooted on street corners where MC’s test their skills against one another in freestyle battles. The purpose of these battles, and to a larger extent Hip-Hop, is to prove one’s greatness, if it happens to come at the expense of another person, well, then so be it.


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Beef has led to some of the most entertaining tracks of all time as MC’s are pushed to create a track that unequivocally dismisses the other and asserts their own dominance. Look no further than the nasty “Control” verse by Kendrick or the vicious “Hit ‘em Up” by Tupac to understand that competition only makes rap greater.  Hip-Hop, like sports, is more fun when the people at the top of the game dislike each other.

Nicki has become the blueprint of success for modern female rappers. She refuses to imitate male rappers, instead brashly exhibiting female strength that has gained her fans of both genders. At the same time, Minaj realized that at this point in Hip-Hop’s development, the best way for a female rapper to achieve fame is to have crossover appeal into pop music. She has put out tracks with the authenticity of real Hip-Hop that also appeal to the larger pop demographic.

As they say, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and no one has imitated the career of Minaj more than Azalea. Azalea has embraced this M.O. “Fancy” is a boast of femininity that features impressive spitting on verses that sandwich a pop hook that has been burned into the subconscious of Earth’s population.

Even their appearances are similar. They both emphasize their outlandish curves, sport long, flat, blonde hair, and dress themselves in colors and patterns so loud that Craig Sager might think they’re overdoing it.

This beef, like many before it, is not a big deal. It is merely two rappers at the top of their respective game marking each other as competition. Perhaps, Azalea should take Nicki’s shade as a compliment because it means that the reigning queen of Hip-Hop has identified her as relevant enough to address.

The beef would be promptly squashed by Azalea paying proper homage to the trailblazing Minaj, but its continuation is for the best. The aging of this beef will not only add a layer to Minaj and Azalea’s impressive discography, but also push two phenomenally talented artists to to prove themselves as the most dominant female rapper.

Follow John on Twitter @FlynnDecent