Hip-hop beefs — or hip-hop adjacent, when you consider one of the party’s swagger — aren’t usually something I’d chime in on due to how typically juvenile they are, but this one struck a chord with me. Particularly the contrast between not only this beef and memorable beefs between members of the hip-hop community, but more strikingly, between the two involved, Ray J, 30, and Fabolous, 33, and their public responses.
As far as the difference between this beef and others, it’s more like the old Wendy’s commercial: where exactly is the beef? The fracas between Ray J, born Willie Norwood Jr., and Fabolous, born John David Jackson, reportedly started in Las Vegas over something extremely insignificant, relatively benign jokes about piano playing shared between two “familiar associates.” Later the same day, that then reportedly escalated to a hallway shoving match over hurt feelings, lost shades and a missing flip flop, a la Ray J (*looks bewildered*). From Biggie and Tupac to 50 Cent and Rick Ross, from Jay-Z and Nas, to Nicki Minaj and Lil Kim — all senseless but slightly more justifiable in hip-hop terms — industry feuds litter the hip-hop landscape. But harmless jokes surrounding piano playing? OK.
The glaring contrast between this and other beefs for me, though, is how Fabolous, who’s had his fair share of run-ins with the law and other tomfoolery, emerged — at least thus far — from the situation as mature, respectful and grounded. No profanity, a little ribbing and dismissal. Ray J, on the other hand presented as an emotional toddler with his on-air rant about what he’s going to do to Fab and his crew and all the money and toys he possesses, using streams of profane language to convey his message. I listened in horror at his near-incoherent ramblings, all the while wondering what momma and daddy Norwood and his fans would think of his irrational threats and expletive-laced verbal assault against the rapper.
Fabolous could’ve behaved in like manner, responding as any point-to-prove rapper would, but instead, he impressed me … and I’ve never been a true Fabolous fan. He relatively eloquently, but unequivocally maturely put Ray J in his place — in this case a stroller — and gently pushed him toward the nearest daycare center. I don’t profess to be an aficionado on Fabolous’s lyrics either, which could very well be inciting and immature, but as of this “beef,” he came off as a respectable young man in my eyes. He effectively side-stepped escalating a situation beyond what was wise and necessary.
Beefs are fertile ground for black-on-black violence and should be avoided at all costs. And Fabolous, a rapper who many would assume would fall right in line and pit his camp against Ray J’s camp given the content of the singer’s rant, essentially looked the other way. To that I say, “Bravo.”
Possibly unwittingly, Fab earned a big win for the hip-hop community that could cause some to re-evaluate the sweeping generalizations made about the mind-set of rappers. He turned away from potential violence and retribution and took the high road. He also did his young, impressionable son proud in the process. –gerald radford