All it took was a press conference featuring oversized novelty checks and rap’s latest war was over. G-Unit member The Game and leader 50 Cent’s feud ended as abruptly as it began. Just a short month ago, both rappers were riding high on the successes of The Game’s debut, The Documentary, and awaiting the release of 50’s long-awaited follow-up to 2003’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

Adam Rottenberg

However, after G-Unit’s West Coast representative made a few choice remarks about working with 50’s own rivals on the air of New York’s combustible Hot 97, the biggest rap war since Bad Boy and Death Row seemed upon us.

Yet, following the fateful shooting at the radio station, the two rap stars mended fences almost immediately after 50’s album debuted. Which begs the question as to what actually happened and if this was all some sort of perverse publicity stunt.

Rap beefs fuel record sales. Without an opponent to slam, a lot of the vitriol and ferocity of a rapper’s lyrics are lost. Since the fateful Biggie/2Pac battles, it seems as every major MC has gone out of their way to find a rival. From Jay-Z and Nas to 50 himself and Ja Rule, hateful rhymes rule the day. Eminem, a constant perpetrator of calling out opponents, denounced this verbal violence on his latest album, but his protégé still won’t listen.

With 50 Cent lobbing venom at JaRule and Murder Inc., it was unexpected for him to turn on his own. Even before the momentary split between 50 and The Game, 50 upped the ante in his verbal sparring with the Inc. by turning his words toward JaRule’s recent collaborators Fat Joe and Jadakiss. Fifty Cent attacked rappers simply because they performed with an enemy; nothing more.

Was 50 Cent worried about the sophmore slump?

The second album is always a concern for an artist, especially one coming with as much hype as 50. With his image constantly softening in the public as MTV and the masses embrace him as an icon of the genre, maybe 50 Cent thought he needed to re-establish his tough image to sell records. His flow and beats helped push Get Rich or Die Tryin’ to multiplatinum status just as much as his public persona.

Additionally, The Game’s album might have fallen off the charts as his fellow G-Unit member’s LP took off. “How We Do,” the lead single from The Documentary, owes as much to 50 Cent’s presence on the track as The Game’s. Critics have already claimed that The Game was simply riding 50 Cent’s coattails to stardom, so why would the public stick around when the real deal was released?

There is potentially more to the situation than just a few offhanded remarks on a radio station. Both 50 and Game benefit from all of the added exposure in the news, regardless of the negetivity of the press. The fight brought both stars and their albums countless mentions in mainstream publications and news outlets. Even if it was out of anger, the end result got the word out there about their music.

Yet, the optomist in me hopes that 50 Cent and The Game’s quick reconciliation indicates that this current crop of rap stars doesnn’t want their careers to be mired in the same sort of violent culture that marked many of their predecessors. Biggie and 2Pac’s legacies rose from their early graves, but honestly no one has a death wish big enough to actually strive for death. Whoever was responsible for ending the idiocy of this feud should be thanked. Yes, the battle tracks oftentimes make great listens, but the concept of war in the music industry is ridiculous and juvenile.

Then again, maybe the feud never even had any substance in the first place. Maybe 50 Cent is just looking for trouble. Maybe 50’s handlers made him reconcile to stop the battle before it infringed upon record sales. Who knows? But the rap world needs to rid itself of this ridiculous underbelly if it’s ever going to get the credibility its musical quality warrants.

 

Adam is a big fan of rap. He owns every Will Smith album, and he even voted for “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” to be his class song when he graduated from elementary school. Send him your favorite Will Smith flows at arotten@umich.edu.

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