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Weekly updates

Events this week surrounded Ghostface taking offense at Action Bronson’s remarks that “He’s not rapping like this no more” and “Just being honest. He needs something” when he appeared on Sports Nation. This resulted in one of the greatest Youtube videos in a long time, as Tony Starks aired out Action over a Teddy Pendergrass song, informing him that, “The grace period is over” and scolding him for being seen in the club sans shoes (a major Conservative Rap Coalition violation, by the way). This led to Mr. Wonderful apologising over Twitter, as he realised that he clearly over-stepped the mark. Ironman still isn’t having it, however, and at the time of writing had publicly refused the apology. This was all very entertaining, especially since a contingent of rap fans still consider that Bronson wears his influences on his sleeve as far as having a similar flow to Ghostface Killah, and many saw it as chickens coming home to roost. But as a rap fan, I’d like to have heard both of them air out their grievances on record to settle this once and for all.

Sadly, the diss record is becoming an increasingly rare species in the rap world. It’s decline can be traced back to the rise of those DVD mixtapes and quasi-documentaries such as Beef which allowed dudes to rant at their enemies, wave guns around on camera and tell stories about the times when some big rap star allegedly had his lunch money stolen in the projects. Once YouTube launched in 2005, this trend continued to prosper, as every two-bit rapper with a camera phone could now take shots at the opposition and attempt to embarrass someone with an actual career with wild claims that could never be proven, in the hopes of getting some shine. While this did produce some classic moments from time to time, it also signalled that the importance of the diss record was rapidly slipping from relevance. It’s no coincidence that the number of notable diss songs dramatically lowered once web video took over, leaving clashes such as 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule and Jay-Z vs Nas to be but distant memories.

The immediacy of Twitter has meant that feuds spark up and fizzle out over the space of a few hours, with only screen caps of deleted tweets and claims of being “hacked’ to remember them by. If social media had existed in the mid 80s, KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock would have just tweeted something nasty to Mr. Magic, Marley Marl and MC Shan and following a brief war of words they would have squashed it all in time for milk and cookies before bed. Luckily for the fans, the only way to effectively vent your frustrations in that era was to publicly shit on people via a new record. As a result, we now have ‘South Bronx’ and ‘The Bridge Is Over’ to look back at and enjoy for time immemorial. Likewise, LL Cool J and Kool Moe Dee would have agreed to release a flavoured vodka together instead of focusing their energies on a series of enormously enjoyable diss songs, and Ice Cube would have just blocked Eazy-E from his Instagram feed instead of recording ‘No Vaseline’.

Perhaps part of the problem is that the stakes have risen too much at this point. Battle records in the ‘80s might have resulted in fisticuffs, but considering that Tupac and Biggie’s feud resulted in both of them being murdered, it’s fair to assume that maybe there’s just too much money involved at this point; unless you’re a reckless newcomer trying to make a name for yourself (Canibus) or you enjoy throwing mild subliminals about without fully committing to anything (Drake). Bronson isn’t likely to make a song going at Ghost, since he’s clearly a fan who just feels that the Wu-Tang veteran hasn’t been delivering his best work recently, but it would be interesting to hear them go toe-to-toe over the same beat just to prove once and for all who is sharper in 2015. Then afterwards they can enjoy some pizza and beer and go to a titty bar and armwrestle or whatever it is that passes for male bonding these days.