Earlier this week, Vince Staples gave a very interesting take on the current state of rap beef. When asked about this season's much-talked feud, he answered, "I don't like rap beef. I want somebody to die. If we just going to be mean and talk about each other, like, I want someone to die." While the tone of his comments sure caused controversy, it's his comment that followed afterwards that added some light. "If we get negative, let's just get all the way negative. If not, I don't care." While we can't condone the act of going all the way negative, we can't pretend to be oblivious to the consequences that come with that "negative" energy.
Earlier today (June 2), Chief Keef was reportedly shot outside the Times Square W Hotel in New York City, as per a report by TMZ. Although no one was struck by the gunman's errant 5 a.m. shot, the incident occurred after fiery comments by local rapper 6ix9ine went viral and ultimately exaggerated by fans online. The incident also arrives years after the rapper stirred up trouble with residents of New Jersey because of a line in his song "Faneto" ("I'm riding through New York, finna go and shoot New Jersey up/Tryna take my chain, I ain't going through it, we gon' come and blow New Jersey up").
With the amount of attention that comes in this era of rap beef — the memes, IG story clicks, trending topics — people, outside of the scenario — forget that these situations involve human beings and not puppets for entertainment (despite the characters often playing the role of the latter). And with that attention comes fuel for things to escalate. In 1996 and 1997, that outside fuel led to the shooting deaths behind two of hip-hop's greatest voices. While Keef was fortunately unharmed in this morning's scare, the incident begs the question of whether we're doing harm to our favorite artists when we promote or popularize these violent feuds. When it's on wax, it's one thing. After all, rap is a sport and competition is expected. But when it escalates and spills onto the streets, you get the perpetual boomerang effect: give out negative, get back negative.
In an era where the man in charge of the country is calling out our megaphone that is hip-hop, scenarios like these only dilutes its influence and power as a barrier-breaking platform. With the way reality goes, however, these incidents often add clout to the names involved. Following Keef's incident, fans took to Twitter to, well, add to that ignorance.
chief keef got shot at in front of a NYC hotel and walked away completely unscathed, john lennon could never— price breakers fan account (@ANDYINTERNETS) June 2, 2018
Teriyaki 69 said “y’all gon give me 48hrs?! Fuck Chief Keef! Fuck Lil Reese!..”— JuJu (@THEJulianThomas) June 2, 2018
Sosa flew to NYC the next day, dropped his location, then released a new song called “I Kill People”
6ix9ine: Alright Chief Keef is at the W, run up on him and it’ll be easy— jimmy (@yeezus_jd) June 2, 2018
His shooters: pic.twitter.com/aGtqNJkyeu
Fuck the Drake and Pusha T beef. Chief Keef and 6ix9ine got bullets flying ♂️— big homie meechie (@meechiesosa) June 2, 2018