We’ve all heard the cliche, “all we have is sports and music.” It probably explains why we approach both in a similar fashion. Unlike any other genres of music Rap and Grime are built on competition. These genres give people with highly developed skills, and very few resources, the opportunity to overcome restrictions and provide for their families. The artform beautifully captures the struggles of inner city life displaying bravado, pride, and creativity, taking real life situations from the streets, to the mic, and sometimes back to the streets again. But is there still a place for beef, or is it played out?
So far in 2017 UK Rap and Grime has outperformed all other genres. As we enter this golden era for our scene one question hangs over us, how do we maintain longevity? Learning from the origins of the culture is a good place to start. Our spin on the competitive aspect of the music is a fusion of a Dancehall clash and a Rap battle. The art of gathering facts on your opponent and delivering them in hard hitting bars until they are silenced is a form of entertainment few can resist. For audiences the anticipation of the reply, or lack of, keeps them glued until someone is ‘bodied’.
Fortunately few serious incidents have stemmed from music beef in the UK. Many of the associated feuds existed prior to music involving people using music as a way to depart from their former lifestyle. With the scene being in the best position it’s ever been in, and artists having so much to gain, it’s worth considering the risks around beef spilling outside of music. In the best selling book, The Art of War, Sun Tse advises, “it’s more important to out think your enemy than to outfight him.” Competition is based on well thought out strategies. If you don’t know your objective you’ve already lost the battle. The objective cannot only be to win, but what you stand to gain from winning. How you leverage the situation makes you the real winner.
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Deb McKoy is the Founder and Consultant at Peppergrain Ltd, London, UK. She began her career as a recording artist, achieving success in the UK national charts before going on to help businesses and individuals maximise their brand.