Nicki Minaj vs. Remy Ma. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you should probably start following at least one trashy media service on Twitter.

Long story short, Nicki contributed a couple feature verses earlier this year that may or may not have been about Remy, and so a couple weeks ago Remy released “ShETHER,” a vicious seven-minute diss track, and followed it up a few days later with “Another One.”  The songs harken back to Nas’ 2001 Jay-Z diss track “Ether” and Drake’s 2015 Meek Mill diss track “Back to Back,” respectively. Nicki responded last week with three new tracks, two of which — “No Frauds” and “Changed It” — take aim at Remy.

This is usually the point where we look at the material and everyone takes sides on who “won.” So, who won? Frankly, no one. There can’t be a winner when the opponents aren’t even playing the same game. 

In an era when good quality doesn’t necessarily translate to high sales figures, these two artists have very different criteria for what constitutes the title “Queen of Rap.” Who fought harder? Definitely Remy. “ShETHER” took shots from all angles, not to mention the dismembered Nicki Minaj Barbie that appears on the cover art. Who sold more? Nicki, for sure. “No Frauds” topped the iTunes charts in multiple countries and its streaming traffic was over 100 times that of “ShETHER.”

Remy Ma is honoring the same set of rules that the Nas / Jay-Z fued operated under: long-winded rap verses that solely function to harshly insult opponents, firing rumors, facts and alternative facts alike. She drags Minaj with a number of scathing accusations like having a ghostwriter, sleeping her way to the top and funding her convicted-felon brother’s wedding.

Nicki’s game is very different. I think she outlines her rules best in her now-deleted Instagram post announcing the new tracks. In a screenshot she writes, “Here @ Young Money, we don’t do diss records, we drop HIT RECORDS & diss u ON them,” a line with a flow so good that she makes a strong case against the ghostwriter accusations.

Minaj is obviously more concerned with topping the charts than hitting back. Both “No Frauds” and “Changed It” take swings at Remy, but do so in a abbreviated fashion, only lending a verse each to feud-related insults. She doesn’t take on Remy with a solo track, but with songs featuring rap heavyweights Drake and Lil Wayne, ensuring that her sales and popularity skyrocket.

Given this, we now consider a new question: Whose rules are we playing by? That’s an issue that emcompasses far more that the Nicki / Remy dispute. In a world dominated by social media and the mass collection of data, it seems that popularity and charts take precedent. I imagine most people who generate an opinion on this feud take Nicki’s side, simply because they know who she is.

But we can not write off Remy merely because she’s less popular. When she ignited this feud, she thought she was starting another Nas / Jay-Z debacle. If she had, she would take the crown.

But this is 2017, not 2001. The content matters and the numbers matter. So until these women enter the same arena, there can be no winner.

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