By Kathy Iandoli
Eminem and Jay-Z are no strangers to beef, but their new opponents are looking toward gloves rather than mics. Both Nick Cannon and MC Hammer have respectively challenged the two rap heavyweights to boxing matches. While neither Jay nor Em have responded to the invitations, the question remains: Who will really win these battles?
Eminem's earliest beef came from Canibus, who accused Eminem of writing LL’s “The Ripper Strikes Back” even before he had a record deal. Once Em grew to super-stardom with his crossover track “Stan”, Canibus delivered “Stan Lives” dissing Eminem. Em replied and to this day subtle jabs exist in Canibus’ songs/mixtapes.
House of Pain’s Everlast vs. Eminem was a white rapper’s fantasy, complete with looping in Dilated People’s Evidence. Once Eminem dragged Evidence in on his Everlast dis track “Quitter”, Evidence replied with the potent “Searching For Bobby Fischer” and the beef was quickly diffused.
Eminem inherited beefs with the likes of Ja Rule (blame 50 Cent...) and Jermaine Dupri (blame Dr. Dre...). However, Eminem’s biggest war was with rapper/former head of The Source Ray Benzino, who threatened Hailie Jade over a battle that originated with Eminem getting two mics in rap rag.
Eminem has already made nice with Nick Cannon, after a dis track to his ex Mariah Carey left her present-day hubby pretty miffed. However Cannon is back for more.
“I don't really think it’s valid at this point,” says Chuck Creekmur, CEO and co-founder of AllHipHop.com. “Eminem actually ended the feud earlier this year. Plus, Nick's not really ready for Eminem on that level. However, neither was JD, but he was pretty effective against Eminem. Nick took a cool approach with the Slick Rick flow so he gets props for that.”
On the other hand, Jay-Z’s battles have been mainly a combination of family affairs and fellow New Yorkers coming for his crown.
His early beef with Cam’ron has his longest scrap by far, originating at the beginning of Jay’s career and continuing as recent as this month with Cam’ron and Jim Jones’ “Toast” over Kanye West’s “Runaway” beat.
Jay-Z had baby beef with Tupac Shakur during his Reasonable Doubt days, but that was quickly overshadowed by Pac’s war of words with Biggie. Another small fry challenge came from Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, but Jay-Z’s response echoes throughout hip-hop history. At New York’s Hot 97 Summer Jam, Jay-Z erected a screen over the stage showing Prodigy as a child in dance school. Game over.
Later, Jay’s former label Roc-A-Fella became a problem with his escalating levels of fame. His longtime business partner Damon Dash sat at the heart of the matter, but then everyone got involved. Jay-Z’s family drama with Roc-A-Fella still remains a point of contention, as Beanie Sigel is still throwing darts all the way from Philly.
Hov’s most poignant beef however was obviously with Nas. From sharing women (We see you Carmen!) to sharing rap samples, the two Kings of New York had such an intense battle that many worried it was Tupac and Biggie 2.0. Thankfully, hip-hop received two great tracks (Nas’ “Ether” and Jay-Z’s “The Takeover”) and peace arose between the two men (Nas even signed to Def Jam during Jay-Z’s Presidency). And since Jay-Z is arguably the G.O.A.T., what is Hammer thinking?
“Hammer seems desperate and delusional,” says veteran hip-hop writer and author kris ex. “I've met Hammer before and spoken to him in a relaxed setting, and he has a very high opinion of himself. Really, it's like, dude, come on.
“Firstly, I don't see it as a ‘dis’ per se; it's bragging based on fact," he continues. "Jay was being a pure asshole in that verse [on Kanye West’s “So Appalled” where Jay-Z references Hammer’s 30 million dollar bankruptcy] and he knows it. For Hammer to be like ‘wait five weeks for my response’ reeks of desperation.”
The advantages of these battles clearly fall in both Nick Cannon’s and MC Hammer’s favor and a win or a loss will ultimately result in a promotional gain.
“In the case of MC Hammer and Jay-Z, the ‘So Appalled’ name drop reignited some of Hammer's lost buzz and put him back on the map for a new generation, so in many ways Hammer should thank Jay,” says Sowmya Krishnamurthy, Digital Marketing Manager for ICED Media. “In the bout between Nick Cannon and Eminem, I applaud Nick Cannon's commitment to defending his wife—who said chivalry was dead right?—and a boxing match for charity is a great way to add a positive, mature spin on what could otherwise be a very uncomfortable war of words.”
While both battles are currently open ended, it appears that Hammer’s vendetta is more complex.
“Hammer had bragging rights and he lost those when he lost his millions. He's been a punchline for ages; he hasn't been successful since forever,” says ex. “Rick Ross makes a song called ‘MC Hammer’ that was all about spending beyond his means. Hammer seems to have problems with his legacy, but those problems are not with Jay-Z. If he's upset with how his story goes, he needs to write a new chapter. Going against the most consistently successful rapper of all time is not the way to do it.”
Who do you think will win the battle of beef? Think Nick Cannon and MC Hammer are going specifically for publicity? Tell us in a comment below or tweet us at @MTVRapFix.