Screen shot 2017 03 12 at 5 36 55 pm
Screen shot 2017 03 12 at 5 36 55 pm

Slackers in Slack: Okayplayer Discusses The Relevance of Battle Rap

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Let's be real, less than half of the discussions that publications have about editorial content actually gets to the readers. We toss thoughts back in forth in the office, we banter in editorial meetings, and sometimes (ok, at least once a week at Okayplayer) we may get into mild debates on slack. Any honest writer can tell you this truth: second to our time spent in WordPress staring at blank cursors, we're mostly messaging on Slack.

This is not an endorsement of the product (although, if you do want to cut a check, Slack, holla at us!) it's just an inside look at the hottakes that didn't make it to the Okayplayerheadlines, live from our slack channel brought to you by a swift Command + Shift + C followed by a Command + Shift P.

This week, following a day of keeping up with opinions re: Nicki Minaj's response to Remy Ma's "ShEther" some of the Okayplayer editorial squad, including our music editor Zo, our Managing Editor Kevito and our CEO Jayson, jumped in the slack channel to discuss the core of this whole Nicki versus Remy people still care about rap battles in 2017?

Read our discourse below, and hit the comments sections to let us know your thoughts.

zo [5:16 PM]

I didn’t think Nicki's rebuttal was too compelling honestly “you don’t sell records like us” doesn’t exactly stack up to the level Remy took it. But I hate rap beef and battle, despite its persistence.

rachelhislop [5:20 PM]

Really? I think it's healthy competition. Rap is a sport. Stay sharp. Everyone is comfy.

zo [5:21 PM]

Agreed, but why at the expense of another’s reputation? One weak on-record moment shouldn’t mean your career.

kevitoclark [5:21 PM]

Consistency is key. You can't claim the best if you're on your back looking up at the lights. And in Remy's case, she should've never dropped that second song anyway.

zo [5:22 PM]

If there’s room for everyone, why are we still trying to knock people off?

kevitoclark [5:22]

There isn't room for everyone. That's a thing that 2nd place people love to tell themselves.

zo [5:22 PM]


rachelhislop [5:23 PM]

That's the core of hip hop though. Before all this glam, battle rapping was legit how you earned your keeps, not pop records and sprite commercials.

(oh shoot, @kevitoclark with the ether! LOL)

kevitoclark [5:23 PM]

Plus, if that was true, Rell and H Money Bags would still be out here singing / rapping with Jay because they had a place.

zo [5:25 PM]

I don't know I just don't see a place for it in non-top-tier music ranks and even there, it feels antiquated and stale, especially in Remy’s case “ShEther”? I mean, come on!

rachelhislop [5:26 PM]

but Remy's been gone right, she's from a different era of Hip Hop I don't think she really understands this new pop hip hop world. A lot of old school hip hop heads don't. Remy handled it the way she knew how.

kevitoclark [5:28 PM]

Plus, Nicki still claims Queen of Hip-Hop (not pop music) so the rules that Remy knows apply to the situation.

zo [5:29 PM]

I guess. This whole king/queen monarchy of music shit is so played out tho

kevitoclark [5:30 PM]

It boils down to reputation at the end of the day. What the peers think of you and how you get their attention. King, Queen, G.O.A.T., Best Rapper Alive = I'm #1 at the end of the day. And you're not thinking that about yourself, you might need to get an accounting degree or something. Not you, as in you @zo, but you but as in a competitive rapper. lol

zo [5:32 PM]

right but you think Kendrick is worried what Q or Cole or anyone’s thinking about him? And isn’t his ability to be unanimous numero uno without consistently claiming it what we all adore about him?

kevitoclark [5:33 PM]

He didn't claim he was number one in that BET Freestyle dissing Drake?

zo [5:33 PM]


kevitoclark [5:33 PM]

He didn't claim he was number one on that 'Control' cut?

zo [5:33 PM]

That’s true I guess. So the rap battle/beef is more a matter of distinction than anything else

kevitoclark [5:34 PM]

Even on C4 he had a song called Best Rapper Alive Under 25. It's competition. It's akin to you and your brother going in the backyard to play a sport.

zo [5:34 PM]


kevitoclark [5:34 PM]

Whoever wins, the other will surely get talked about at the dinner table.

zo [5:35 PM]

but aren’t the implications in music more dire than that?

kevitoclark [5:35 PM]

Dire? how so?

zo [5:36 PM]

Like a bad verse makes or breaks your whole career. redemption isn’t even typically offered. Like are there rappers that definitively lost one of these battles that went on to reclaim their spot/clout/rep?

kevitoclark [5:38 PM]

The only one I remember was when Kanye battled Game at an industry event. Game lost bad, but that hasn't stopped his career. But rap is a gladiator sport. If the coliseum boos you out the arena, you're not going to be welcomed back no matter how hard you try.

You could be Eddie Kane Jr. with the brightest of zoot suits on, riffing, and the game will walk right past him to go for Bryson Tiller. Because an L in any sport can signify that you no longer have what it takes to compete.

rachelhislop [5:44 PM]

(I'm publishing this slack thread on the site tomorrow.)

kevitoclark [5:47 PM]

Sounds like a new franchise alert.

zo [5:50 PM]

suppose there’s no escaping the cut-throat-ness of all this. Can’t we all just get along tho?

rachelhislop [5:50 PM]

NOT IN RAP! Getting along is for r&b pre- Chris Brown.

zo [5:51 PM]

and post-Chris Brown. God, I hope we get there.

rachelhislop [5:51 PM]


kevitoclark [5:51 PM]


Jayson [6:06 PM]

Happen to agree with Kev on everything here. It's a bloodsport and you can't claim to be the best if you ain't ready to rumble. Kendrick def claimed his spot and his claim is what actually put him there. He grabbed his sack and said it "I'm the best, who want it?" J Cole, Drake an nem was like "I'm cool" and Kendrick took his rightful spot. This just wasn't all that entertaining. Our thread is more fun than their actual battle.

No dispute there.