With all the senseless violence in hip-hop the last decade or so I couldn’t help but reminisce about the battles and beef of yesteryear. After the deaths of rap superstars Tupac and Biggie for example, I remember when it wasn’t like that. There was a time where I use to be dying to rap, now they’re dying because of rap. What part of the game is that? I remember when disagreements where handled much differently. While most are too young to remember most of the groups and battles I’m speaking of. Allow me take you all on a journey of hip-hop battles and beefs, back in da days. I’m talking about a time before the rhyme was captured on vinyl records or CDs and sold in stores.
I can’t help thinking what we would have lost if when Kool Moe Dee, who had beef with Busy B over the ‘pre-organized battles he always won,’ as Moe Dee put it, bust a cap in Busy Bee Starsky instead of ambushing him lyrically. That was one of the fiercest battles and one many emcees and hip hop headz know word for word. Not to mention how many had 4th and 5th generation (if you were that lucky) tapes of it there are and were floating around. It didn’t matter how clear it was just that you had it. Don’t get me wrong those who had the clearest copies like my homeboy Reggie ‘G-Reg’ Hobbs and the diabolical one himself, Biz Markie were the ones who got the most props.
What would have happened in 1983 in Patterson, New Jersey if when The Force MC’s (yeah that’s what they went by before their career as singers) who were pissed at The Cold Crush Brothers for always getting top billing on the flyers. What would have happened if they came armed with guns and sprayed the stage with bullets instead of harmonizing routines.
Imagine the Treacherous Three who were tired of being dissed by The Furious Five in Sugarhill Studios, imagine if they did a driveby, killin’ off one of the world first excepted commercial rap group (Sugarhill Gang got famous off Grandmaster Caz’s lyrics and weren’t excepted by real hip-hop heads) instead of inviting them to battle on stage at Harlem World during one of their legendary anniversary parties? What about when Melle Mel and Grandmaster Flash parted ways, what if they had succumbed to violence and never got a chance to lay down the blueprint way before Sean Cory Carter, which paved the way for every rap artist today? Where would we be, where would hip hop be?
Let’s just pause for a minute and imagine a world without hip hop and rap music. Without your favorite artists, favorite video show or magazine. No Karl Kani or April Walker to pave the way for FUBU, Phat Farm, Sean John or Roc-A-Wear, no Hype Williams. No Russell Simmons to lay down the blueprint for Andre Harrell, Puffy excuse me I mean P Diddy or is it just Diddy these days, I can’t keep up. No NWA to pave the way for the gangsta sound of the west. Just sit there and think of all the many urban youth who make their living off of hip hop. Now erase them from the equation like they never existed. What would many who hip hop helped escape the streets be doing? Let’s turn back the hands of time and take a look at some of the battles and beefs of the past.
The first is one of the all-time favorite of true hip hop heads. I talking about the legendary Cold Crush Brothers vs. The Force MCs. Talk about routines and harmonizing, here you had two of the tightest crews to ever touch the M.I.C.
CC4 came to Paterson that night and spit all their routines many of us have come to love have listened to til our tapes popped and recited over and over. I remember sitting in the playground on 8th Avenue, or 4th Street Park in Money Earnin’ Mt. Vernon or with my cousins Rich and Pete on Webster Avenue in New Rochelle. I was always JDL. It was JDL, Kool Moe Dee, Grand Master Caz and Melle Mel that made me wanna be an emcee.
‘the L, the L the one that ROCKS WELL, Takin all the fly ladies to the Hotel,’
Anyway I digress, like I was saying, CC4 did their thing and broke out. The Force MCs came in later with the intention of rippin’ it. Cold Crush brought it like this…
you never saw a crew, that can rock you the way that we do, we’re too much
with chase and tone, got JDL, EZ and KG too, the Cold Crush
you girls know who we’re talkin to, the four just wanna get next to you
and we’re the brothers that you all adore
so get ready, hey girls get ready, cause here we come
well get ready, cause here we come, we on our way….
we don’t mean no disrespect, it’s time we put you all in check, in ’83
it’s not that were conceited, it’s just that we defeated, all of you, you, you, you
why you wanna be around us, then you front and down us with ya silly games
people comin’ up and tell us, that y’all are very jealous, were not sayin any names
now y’all just keep on frontin, but that shit don’t mean nuthin, to the four
cause we just keep on writin, and y’all just keep on bitin, more and more
the other, the other you and ya brother
other emcees wanna be us, cause when people come and see us, we just let them know
while other crews just break up, we stand tall and make up, the ulti-mate show….
And then the Force MCs brought the ruckus with their straight battle rhymes, routines and perfect harmony as they put it (which only make sense since the went on to change their name to the Force MDs, showing the world they could hold a tune or two a few years later.) Before the Wu Tang Clan entered the game with their 36 Chambers, The Force MC’s were the first group to represent and put it down for the forgotten boro of Staten Island, Shaolin to all you younger rap fans. They came with the intention of straight setting it off the way Mike Tyson used to straight wreck the unfortunate fools on the opposite side of the ring in his early days.
We’re the Force MC’s, we came to rock the spot with Dr. Rock
(You may remember when they revise this routine on Ghostface Killah’s single ‘Daytona 500’ off The Ironman album)
I’m Mercury, I’m Stevie D and I’m Jesse D
we came to take out Caz and JDL, the harmony
so listen to us sing perfect harmony
Tony Tone and Charlie Chase you can’t mess with Dr. Rock
you just lost the battle, cold crush better give it up (5x)
now IT’S time to win, for the battle to begin
were not gonna leave the place with no sad faces, were gonna win
the battle everyone in Paterson, New Jersey came to see
the Cold Crush Brothers vs the F-O-R-C-E
Cold Crush walk out the door,you run the same rhymes the crowd don’t wanna hear no more
Grandmaster Caz, JDL, EZ and Almighty
you better listen, you better listen carefully
and Dr. Rock came here to cut up Tony Tone and Charlie Chase
our rhyming and our timin is so fresh from the pack
Cold Crush got trouble cause the Force is fightin back
so please don’t sing, yall better rap
because tonight you’ll hear you sound like shit
and you won’t wanna hear it back
were takin and breakin everything you like and own
not ya faces but ya fuckin microphones
While this wasn’t exactly a battle with both present, CC4 came to rock and Force MCs came to get respect, this still goes down as one of the greatest battles of all time. That was then, this is now…
What’s beef? Beef is when you need 2 gats to go to sleep
Beef is when ya mom aint safe out in the street
Beef is when I see you, guaranteed to be in ICU, one more time
What’s beef? Beef is when you make ya enemies start ya jeep
Beef is when you roll no less than 30 deep
Beef is when I see you, , guaranteed to be in ICU
– What’s Beef- The Notorious B.I.G.
Who can forget when Kool Moe Dee caught Busy B out there and left him looking shook like a deer caught in ya headlights? Busy B did went first with his party type rhymes, Say sex (sex) and more sex (more sex)… and all the whole favorite restaurants-zodiac signs- and talking about somebody stole his favorite rhymes bit he used to do. Don’t get me wrong, that crowd pleasing shit was doing just that, pleasing the crowd. But this was a battle and on that night in 1982 Kool Moe Dee set it off. It’s one of the most infamous battles of all times. Kool Moe Dee set it on a brother and all he could do was shout out, ‘Shut Up, Shut Up,’ a few times. It went a little something like this……Come on Busy B, I don’t mean to be bold, but put that bob diddle bob bullsh#t on hold
We gonna get right down to the nitty grit,gonna tell ya a little something, why you aint sh#t
there aint an emcee’s jock that you don’t hug, ya even bit ya name from the Lovebug
now to bite a n#ggaz name that some low down sh#t,If you was money man you be counterfeit
I gotta give it to ya though you can rock, but everybody know you on the Furious’ jock
And I remember Busy from the olden times,When my man Spoonie Gee used to see you rhymes….
…No matter how hard you try you’ll see, Bet ya mind and ya money can’t say it like me
but you wanna be, busy wanna be, and he know he wanna be another Kool Moe Dee
so lets all chant, cause you know you can’t, everybody salute to the new emcee champ
it’ s like this yall, It’s like this yall, it like this a this this, its like this yall
Busy B Starsky, I’m Kool Moe Dee, the best emcee and that’s my trophy…
I guess I don’t have to tell you Kool Moe Dee came in first place, Busy B came in second and Johnny Wah came in third. Back in the days, the art of battling was created to settle differences and as a deterrent against violence.
“B- Boys battled with uprock and took each other head off doin the electric boogie, graffiti artists went over each other pieces or battled side by side, emcees battled on the M.I.C. and DJ’s with turntables,” KRS informs during an interview I did on the subject. Even though he wrecked all competition on the mic some years later, he definitely knows a thing or two about bringing to emcee whose choose to oppose. Speaking of KRS ONE he was involved in some of the biggest battles in history as well. KRSalmost single handedly took on the whole juice crew, in the battle of the boro’s, it was the South Bronx Vs The Bridge (Queensbridge).
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not even trying to tell you there wasn’t drama back then and that blows didn’t get thrown, because brothers went for theirs. It was all about respect back then. But even in situations when the Fantasy 3 were on stage dissin’ The Crash Crew, beefing cause their joint ‘Its Your Rock’ got taken by the Crash Crew who used joint and recorded their classic joint, ‘On The Radio.’ The Fantasy 3 was straight beefing not knowing Crash Crew was in the house. The Crash Crew ran up on stage and beat down the Fantasy 3, like KRS did PM Dawn, several years later. Egos were bruised, but no one got killed over the incident.
Other memorable beefs were between Flash and Furious Five and Crash Crew called the Battles of the Freedom’s. Now from what I understand they never actually battles or threw any blows but there was constant beef being both group were on Sugarhill Records, on the road together and they also used the same beat. Both crews say their record came out first.
Cold Crush also went at it a few times with the Fantastic Romantic 5 MCs, a battle that was loosely recreated for the movie Wildstyle in the basketball court scene. Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore had a few legendary battles. Rumor has it, Theodore had handcuffs put on him in the battle and tore it up on the wheels of steel. (I can’t say I saw this one first hand, but that’s all everyone was talking about for years to come)
Now these are just a few battles and beef of the past. My point of sharing this with you is we need to settle current difference in hip hop on the stage. In those situations where it just gotta go down, let’s take it back to the knuckle game and put the guns down. We have had enough deaths in hip hop over some BS. Any punk can pull a trigger, but it takes a man to handle his and get up close and personal with his hands, ya heard!