So Lil Wayne’s highly anticipated (and routinely delayed) Tha Carter IV leaked onto the internets earlier this week. And it’s pretty damn good. But thus far, all anyone can talk about is that Jay-Z diss.
Confused? Well, it all started in a 2009 interview where Birdman declared that Lil Wayne is a better rapper than Jay-Z because he “do the most and make the most money.” Perhaps you’ll recall Jigga’s response earlier this year on the song “H.A.M.”:
“Like these rappers rap about all the shit that I do daily/I’m like really, half a billi, nigga, really you got Baby money/ Keep it real with niggas, niggas ain’t got my lady money.”
Clearly, Wayne was not impressed with Jay’s not-so-sublte double entrendre. And that brings us to C4’s most controversial track, “It’s Good.” “It’s Good” is essentially a traditional, solid slab of hardcore Hip Hop, opening with a flawless verse from Jadakiss. Drake does his best to keep up before Wayne hits the ground running with a closing verse.
Then he says this:
“Talkin’ bout baby money?/I got your baby money/Kidnap your bitch, get that ‘how much you love your lady’ money”
This is a clear and direct jab at Jay-Z (and Beyonce, technically haha).
Now will any of this amount to anything? Who knows. Jay-Z is notorious for throwing subliminals out there in his rhymes, and for being incredibly discerning about whom he calls out by name. But Birdman has certainly been talking a lot of smack lately. Take this excerpt from a XXL Magazine interview this past month:
“It’s older versus younger,” Baby said. “I listened to a few songs [off Watch The Throne] and it feels like an older feel to me. I think with Drake and Wayne, they young. They young cats. You got 23 and 28. Then you got Jay-Z and them, who are older and really on their way out the game.”
“Hate the rumors, hate the bullshit, hate these fuckin allegations/I’m just feelin like the throne is for the taking. Watch me take it.”
If you ask me, this needs to happen. I know 50 Cent took Hip Hop battles to their most overindulged and shameless extent during his reign of terror over New York Hip Hop during the mid-2000s. And of course no one wants this to spiral out of control East-vs.-West-style. But competition is good. And Hip Hop has always been a competitive sport. There’s nothing wrong with a good battle in Hip Hop every once in a while. And it’s not disrespectful or an overreach for Lil Wayne to go at Jay-Z’s head, either. Jay-Z isn’t content with simply being viewed by his peers as a legend. He considers himself to be the best doing it right now. Eventually, legend or not, you’re gonna have to show and prove.
A Young Money vs. Roc Nation battle would perfectly capture a growing generation gap within the Hip Hop community. You have your first generation of legitimately relevant 40-something rappers (living legends like Jay-Z and Eminem) vying for the same audience as hungry, ambitious and stylistically unique 20-somethings like Drake or Odd Future. Shit had to hit the fan eventually.
Punk unseated bloated, overindulgent Hard Rock in the late 70’s. Grunge put Glam Rock out of its misery in the early 90’s. This is how it works, people. Just compare the aesthetic of Watch The Throne with the sound of Tha Carter IV. It’s opulence vs. simplicity. Grand statements vs. stream-of-conscience flow. WWT’s tracklisting was chosen meticulously, while C4 sounds like they essentially picked a couple singles, and then chose from a bag of Lil Wayne freestyles at random. Most of the songs on C4 don’t even have choruses.
These artists typify two very different artistic approaches. Sales charts and radio play will decide which one wins out in the long run. But a solid lyrical dust-up between two factions of Hip Hop Heavyweights certainly would not be a bad deal for the fans.