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The Pen vs. The Mic: When Music Meets the Press

Kristen Winter

In the opening lines of ‘Tyrone,’ Erykah Badu provides a disclaimer: “Now keep in mind that I’m an artist, and I’m sensitive about my s—.” No truer words could be spoken in regards to the tumultuous relationship between artist and critic. Artists need the press to fuel their careers; yet when the press doesn’t like what an artist is producing or misquotes what an artist says in an interview, there are problems.

Hip-hop is never shy at hot-boxing the press when it comes to poor album reviews. Like any beef, some remain on wax, others don’t. In response to an unfavorable review, Wyclef rapped on the Fugees‘ ‘Zealots:’ “These cats can’t rap, Mr. Author I feel no Vibe/ The magazine says the girl should’ve went solo/ The guys should stop rapping, vanish like Menudo/ Took it to the heart, but every actor plays his part/ As long as someone was listening, I knew it was a start … ”

No one can forget Eminem on ‘Marshall Mathers’ where he says: “Hey-hey! And then to top it off, I walked to the newsstand
to buy this cheap-a– little magazine with a food stamp/ Skipped to the last page, flipped right fast and what do I see? A picture of my big white a–/ Okay, let me give you motherf—ers some help: uhh, here – DOUBLE XL, DOUBLE XL/ Now your magazine shouldn’t have so much trouble to sell/ Ahh f— it, I’ll even buy a couple myself … “

But, the most notorious incident between a rapper and a reporter happened in the early 90s, when TV personality Dee Barnes interviewed Ice Cube about his departure from NWA. Dr. Dre, feeling NWA was misrepresented in the interview, later slammed Ms. Barnes against a wall at an industry event. Eminem makes reference to it in the track ‘Guilty Conscience,’ rapping, “You gonna take advice from somebody who slapped Dee Barnes?”

However, once the Internet became the World Wide Hangout, things changed. Artists didn’t have to wait months to read what a writer thought about them or their album. The floodgates for opinions were opened thanks to blogs. The artist retaliation has been nothing short of creative either, thanks to Twitter. Even Rihanna has made battle cries to bloggers, evidenced by the bridge to ‘Hard.’ The BoomBox has compiled a few recent examples of Internet warfare. While we don’t condone violence, we do enjoy a good keyboard exchange.

Arnold Turner, WireImage

Jermaine Dupri v. Sandra Rose

Atlanta-based gossip blogger Sandra Rose recently published a post titled ‘How the Mighty Have Fallen: Jermaine Dupri Rebounds,’ taking jabs at Dupri’s breakup with superstar Janet Jackson, his label troubles, financial woes and all around career fails. “Insiders accused JD of being too cocky for his own good,” she wrote. His response? A call to Rose where he explains, “I got people ready to kill you right now!” Thankfully, Sandra Rose is still alive and doing well.

Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty Images

Lupe Fiasco v. Nah Right

When his music leaked on Nah Right, Lupe Fiasco took shots at the blog, accusing the site of hacking into his email and leaking his music. Nah Right didn’t take too kindly to the Fiasco. In July, Lupe tweeted, “And Nah Right, don’t be fake now bro… you banned me remember? … ” Nah Right responded, “#1 Nobody ever said you were banned & #2 I could never post another of your songs again and my kids will eat.” The blog then followed up with, “You’re banned now though.”

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

M.I.A. v. New York Times


Not quite a blogger and not quite a hip-hop artist, but the response was nothing short of gangster. M.I.A. was shadowed by New York Times writer Lynn Hirschberg during the making of her latest album, ‘///Y/.’ When the story hit newsstands, M.I.A. was seen as a hypocrite, discussing poverty while snacking on truffle-dipped french fries. M.I.A. dipped the writer in hot oil by tweeting her phone number and posting interview audio, where Hirschberg could be heard ordering the luxe fries.

Jason Merritt, WireImage

Will.i.am v. Perez Hilton

The Black Eyed Peas have been the butt of many jokes on Perez Hilton’s gossip site, and last summer the Peas reached their limit. During the 2009 MuchMusic Awards, words were exchanged between Perez and Will.i.am, as well as various members of the Peas’ entourage. The result: a heated argument, gay slur and eventually an assault. Perez released a video showing his battle wounds from Will.i.am’s manager, Polo Molina. The BEP denied the claims in his own video.

Johnny Nunez, WireImage

Joe Budden v. DJ Vlad

Neither Joe Budden nor DJ Vlad are strangers to beef. However, when Vlad decided to post a video parody of rapper Ransom‘s “funeral,” Joe Budden had something to say. While sitting in on Shade 45′s Angela Yee-hosted morning show, Budden got on the horn with Vlad to ask him what he was thinking. Budden was furthermore offended when Vlad referred to himself as a journalist. The result was a severe tongue lashing. Let’s just say Vlad won’t be making mock funeral videos of Joe Budden anytime soon.

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