Friday, October 13, 2006

Beef: The Series

It's been a slow news week locally( although I'm going to check out Method Man Friday night, so that should be interesting). I missed the local showcase held Wednesday night in Santa Cruz, which sucked because it's like the third time I've missed it. I even hit up AK on his myspace and messaged him that I would go, only to flake out (If you're reading this, I'm sorry AK. I just had some last minute work stuff that prevented me from going to see your show live).

And so there I was on Wednesday night, bored with some time to kill, when I decided to actually watch some TV. Wouldn't you know it: I managed to catch the new episode of "Beef: The Series" on BET.

For those of you who don't know, the "Beef: The Series" is an extension of the DVD series titled "Beef," produced by QD3, aka Quincy Jones III, the son of Quincy Jones. QD3 has made a career of producing LA rappers like IceCube and Warren G. He's also carved out a niche doing faux documentaries about high-profile street rappers. His DVD about 2Pac, subtitled "Thug Angel," got decent response from fans and the industry, enough for him to get the green light on the Beef series.

In the DVD, "Beef" dissects hip-hop feuds, from high-profile confrontations like 2Pac vs. Biggie to minor squabbles, like D-12 vs. Royce Tha 5-9. The series garnered some controversy when a segment on Eminem vs. Benzino was removed from the third DVD, reportedly because The Source Magazine's production company, which was indirectly owned by Benzino, had signed on as a producer. Couldn't have the boss the subject of the series, especially if it was in an unflattering light, or so the thinking goes.

Now, the television series is a weekly half-hour that focuses on rap feuds, although from all sorts of angles. Wednesday night's episode focused on three beefs: Dame Dash vs. Jay-Z, Kanye West and rappers vs. George Bush and Jacki-O vs. Foxy Brown.

Of the three segments, Jacki-O vs. Foxy Brown represented the only legitimate rapper vs. rapper beef. And it really wasn't much of a beef: to hear Jacki tell it, Foxy showed up at the Miami studio where Jacki was recording one night and started getting indignant. Jacki did what any self-respecting female rapper protecting her turf would do - she knocked Foxy out with the one hitter quitter.

There was one diss song recorded as a result: Jacki-O's "TKO" was another lights out knockout blow that took aim at the Brooklyn femcee Foxy Brown. My favorite line from that joint was something like "You get served back and forth like a tennis ball," or something like that. I never much cared for Jacki-O, a Miami rapper who I felt was trying to come off as a more sultry, sophisticated and vulgar version of another Miami rapper, Trina.

But Jacki's diss track, along with the fact that she didn't bow down to the veteran Foxy, were both signs of a killer instinct that I had no idea she possessed. I probably won't buy a Jacki-O album as a result, but I might turn up her song when I hear it on the radio.

The beef that seemed to possess the most curiosity was the Kanye vs. Bush segment, although it was presented as "Rappers vs. The president." And it only alluded to Kanye's "George Bush don't care about black people" statement in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, circa Sept. 2005; instead it showed a bunch interview clips with the likes of Talib Kweli, of dead prez, David Banner and even H-town Mexican MC Chingo Bling, who had a hilarious freestyle that ended with "Hey Kanye, Bush don't like Mexican's either!" Classic stuff.

The coolest footage was of Mos Def performing his song "Katrina Clap" in front of Radio City Music Hall at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards. The song is a dedication to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, sung over the beat to "Nolia Clap," by Juvenile's UTP crew.

Mos dedicated the song to the victims of Hurricane Katrina on the one-year anniversary of the storm. He performed unannounced on a flat-bed truck, and was later arrested for not having a permit. Nice guerrilla stunt, and it was a reminder that sometimes, hip-hop can be a form or protest art.

The Dame Dash vs. Jay-Z segment seemed cooked, strictly showing Dash's side of the story (in the producer's defense, it seems likely that Jigga wouldn't participate in such a segment given that he has repeatedly denied that there was any friction between him and his former partner in Roc-A-Fella records).

Dame comes off as a scorned partner in some parts, disbelieving friend in others. He doesn't outright diss Jay-Z, but seems more hurt and baffled. This whole segment made Jay seem like a single-minded opportunist working toward getting his own business pursuits off the ground and cutting his ace partner out of the action, which seems somewhat viable.

The only problem with that is it's hard to be sympathetic for Dame Dash, who in every other interview and print article, not to mention his failed BET series "Ultimate Hustler," comes off as a complete asshole. I won't feel any more sympathy for Dame Dash, who plays himself as a black Donald Trump-model, than I would for t he white Donald Trump. Business is business, so get over it already.

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