FLASHBACK INTO TIME...
I always laugh when Ra starts the first line. “Competition is none…” And at that time in Hip Hop history, there was no competition for him. He was on a hot streak. Writing classics like “My Melody”, “Eric B For President” & “Move The Crowd”(“The Rhyme Flows On” is my favorite) seemed habitual for this guy Rakim. The duo of Eric B & Rakim took off with the “Paid In Full” single AND album, and to follow it up with the “Follow The Leader” project was sheer madness.
During this time in Hip Hop we were being treated to classic battles from KRS-One vs. MC Shan, Kool Moe Dee vs. LL Cool J, and MC Lyte vs. Antoinette. Although these battles were not considered as “beef” between said artists, these were heated competitions. Darts were flying. Back then in Hip Hop there was a consensus that thou shalt not bite (consider this a foretelling of the next blog), and you better be ready to battle when approached, tested, or called out. Be yourself, and be ready to defend yourself emcee. Prepare for competition. This actually can be said about ANY industry. If you want market share ($) you have to compete with a viable product.
Imagine being Coca-Cola with every other beverage company biting your style (flavor, can color, beverage color). What do you do to separate yourself from the leeches? Kill them (corporate takeover, lawsuits) or out do them. What ever they come with, do the opposite. Even though Coca-Cola knows Pepsi will always be there I can bet they saw 7-Up as a threat because Coke created Sprite to compete with the upstart “colorless cola”(I was always intrigued as to how these “sodas” were actually pharmaceutical elixirs). Why would they let a youngin’ upstage them? Create the product to compete for market share (Coke actually still cock-blocks 7-Up today by making it’s distributors buy plenty of Sprite to suffocate the 7-Up brand). Think of Atari, Intellivision, and then ColecoVision.
Record labels create this competition all the time. For your Jungle Brothers you had your EpMd. For your Nikki D you had your Heather B. For your Sam Cooke you had your Marvin Gaye. For your JJ Fad you had your B.W.A. For your Earth, Wind, and Fire you had your Brass Construction. For your Barry White you had your Cerrone. Digable Planets and The Fugees.
Today, due to the over-saturation of consumer goods on the market, the competition is realistically left for the ADVERTISING AGENCIES to emphasize. Create a viral campaign to “shock and awe” the consumer into believing in the product sold (didn’t the American government exercise this same tactic? Wow…). Back then they would shock people with a new product and have them in awe of its relative efficiency, now it’s more of the ad content that provides the shock and awe, and less of the product itself. Verizon Wireless has AT & T heated right now, but there’s nothing that can be done until a judge says to pull those map commercials. Until then AT & T stands to lose customers to it’s competitor. They should have been ready to battle. And real talk, Verizon IS A T & T (Ma Bell break-up). WWE tactics, anyone?
In mainstream rap 2009, the ad agencies they use are websites, twitter accounts, and bloggers to promote competition. Unfortunately the competition now consists of either felony record comparing or runway model imagery, instead of combating skill levels and music. Joe “Cuffin” Budden and Saigon had a real rap battle, but no specific ad agency tallying the votes on the ‘net for realistic results. Jeezy tried to bait Gucci Mane to battle, Beans is trying to bait Jay-Z. Ross and 50 had one of those rap battles that will be recorded in the archives of Hip Hop history. The tactics and antics done during that skirmish will be scrutinized for scores to come. Jay-Z has pretty much stated that his wallet is too heavy to battle (Ether-phobia). Gucci, who is a curveball away from strike three, will have some time to reassess how he will compete once he is free again. And the freshman, Drake, has said he will not compete, even though he demands top shelf space with all of the other proven brand competitors. I would say Drake, if you don’t wanna compete with Coca-Cola or Pepsi, you still have to compete with Shasta, Dr. Pepper, even Mr. Pibbs for shelf space. They already have the market share you desire. But be warned if you prove to be as good as Coke and Pepsi, don’t expect Coke and Pepsi to not compete with you for YOUR market share because YOU won’t compete. They have brutal ad agencies on retainer specifically for competition.
WWE “beef” may be frowned upon, but competition is embedded within the musical history of Hip Hop. It has to continue. If Coke doesn’t have Pepsi around, there’s no crown to claim best cola and we would all eventually OD of boredom with just one version of soda. Here’s a bonus round:
Competition is required.
$ykotic Don McCaine
Kibblez and bitz: Shouldn’t Rhianna’s album selling for 99 cents this weekend be considered a bigger flop than 50?
Didn’t Kanye in his “808’s” mode remind you of Toni Basil?
Can’t wait for that X-Men Origins: Magneto either, huh?