Never before have two platinum-certified music artists weaponized their catalogs to settle a personal beef. Especially not a feud consisting of verbal disrespect, threats and death.
Last Thursday, rappers Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy faced off — in person — for the season 2 premiere of the scorching tale-of-the-tape series Verzuz. Millions of Apple TV and Instagram faithful witnessed this once unforeseeable moment in hip-hop history virtually. Worth the price of admission alone (actually, it was free — you were simply requested to pay attention) was the sight of two sworn enemies occupying the same room. In a promo interview leading up to the event, Jeezy was asked by a reporter if it was possible that the showdown could transpire without “an incident.” The response was a flat, “We’ll see.”
Everything I love and fret about hip-hop is what made Young Jeezy versus Gucci Mane last week’s hottest ticket. There were no celebrity judges. No thirsty smiles or fellowship facade. Neither artist read any awkward poems. The drama wasn’t executive-produced — it was street-rooted. Tension preceded the battle’s marketing, but once the paperwork cleared it had no room to live. Instead, the air was filled with a far more attractive cloud: Danger.
This wasn’t about two Atlanta kings of the same subgenre of trap rap exercising their competitive spirits. This was about a 15-year beef between two felonious men whose relationship went from bad to worse when one killed the other’s friend. Nonetheless, Apple dropped a bag of cash on each rapper to relax their grudge for the ratings catnip of a peace treaty — that could go left — complete with rap performances.