Is it over for "La Familia"? Jay Z vs. Kanye West
Is it over for "La Familia"? Jay Z vs. Kanye West and the Evolution of the "Rap Beef"
I have now witnessed-in person-two of the most positive and uplifting Kanye West "rants" (see above) in the history of his touring life, so nothing could have prepared me for his most recent "rant" during his Seattle show on the Saint Pablo Tour. Hypebeast has all the links so click here to catch up.
I am an epic Kanye West fan. It's almost embarrassing to admit that I am not just a Cusp Millennial, but I am also a Cusp Kanye "Stan". I have supported Kanye from the jump. From going off script during live broadcasts, to stage storming the VMAs, I support. See here if you need more clarification of my "loyalty". I believe that we are entitled to our first amendment rights of freedom of speech, and that artists should express themselves in which ever way they choose, provided they aren't endangering any lives (although many alt-right conservatives would say hip-hop is the culprit for the ills in the black community). But now I am clutching my proverbial pearls.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 15+ years, the relationship between Jay Z and Kanye West has created some of the most indispensable hip-hop classics of all time. Not only that, Kanye has always said that Jay (who was recently nominated for the Songwriter's Hall of Fame) is more like a Big Brother to him than a colleague. That is why this all so shocking, to say the least. I personally adore the "no filter" Kanye. Yet I sit here wondering, has he gone too far this time? I am no one to judge the reactions of anyone. Stress, anger and even the thought of betrayal are often precursors to many people's bad behavior, not for just this one man we vilify. There's layers to this ish.
With album sales plummeting and streaming being the new wave, it seems as if the Apple/Tidal/*insert your streaming service of choice* wars are the future, and, in essence, the evolution of rap "beefs". With so many artist choosing one service over the other for their album releases and exclusive content, it is no wonder an added of layer of politics is now thrown into the mix. Thanks to Kanye, we have a glimpse into, possibly, the most high-profile and, potentially, most significant "beef" of all time.
Back when a beef might mean your life, I am sure late greats are all together chuckling from inside the pearly gates. With recent news of potentially contrived beefs (allegedly), to the new era of music politics, instead of losing your life, you very well may end up losing your popularity and/or your livelihood instead.
Has Jay Z singlehandedly become the next Jimmy Iovine? Will artist ever truly be free to create however and with whomever they want? Are they still friends? Is there something else going on here? Some of this is supposedly stemming from an unreleased Jay Z verse on Drake's "Pop Style".
I'm going to try to break it down for y'all. Allegedly, this is really Drake and Meek' Mill's fault, allegedly. Billboard breaks the Meek Mill/Drake beef down here if you need a refresher. Meek Mill is signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation. Drake has an exclusive deal with Apple (side note: by the time Views dropped on Tidal, I had already lost significant interest). If an album drops on Apple exclusively, oftentimes the wait is weeks, sometimes months before it shows up on Tidal (and vice-versa). Like many Americans, I choose to budget for one streaming service at this time, right now it's Tidal. There were also murmurings of a Kanye/Drake joint album a'la Watch the Throne. With a few hints and even mysterious billboards popping up, the joint album is "highly anticipated". I remember thinking "this isn't going to work".
The levels here are most likely more complex then we, the general viewing public, will ever know about, but on the surface, we know what's up. Kanye attempts to play mediator, and while trying to move forward with his own artistic ambitions, brakes are pumped. And you don't pump Kanye West's brakes. AND his wife was recently robbed at gun point?!? An infamous Kanye rant was "Bound" to ensue.
The "La Familia" dynamic has seemingly shifted ever since Kanye West's relationship with Kim Kardashian. Google Beyoncé and Kim Karsashian and you will find a massive amount of conjecture as to why the couples are rarely seen together.
"Our kids ain’t even play together,” Kanye says. “Jay called me, after the robbery. You say, 'How you feeling?’ You want to know how I’m feeling? Come by the house. Bring the kids by the house. Like we brothers. Lets sit down. That’s all.”--Kanye West Saint Pablo Tour 10/19/16
I will reserve my opinion to this: I know what it's like to have friends that feel and act more like family. I too know what it's like to desperately want and need a traditionally-untraditional family structure. I know what it's like to lose friendships over said family. I know, based on years of other people's experiences and those of my very own, that business and pleasure do not mix. However, if/when that family structure is no longer there, it will be those very same friends that will be there to support and lift you back up. I know this because I lived this.
Bureaucracies aside, the culture will forever be fractured if this isn't handled appropriately. Business is always business, but part of what makes hip-hop so special is the community aspect of it. To me, it's a big dysfunctional family that we all relate to because we all have our own version of it. Maybe there is a way to bypass all of this friction and give everyone what they want? Perhaps. I am no expert, but with modern technology advancing the way it does, there must be a solution (an app, hint hint).
So for now, I will leave you with much happier times in the Jay Z/Kanye "bromance":
What's your opinion? Don't forget to comment below.