Funny Moments In Hip Hop – A Scholar’s Take

With my partner in Lime, Prof submitting a heavy, thoughtful, and informative piece about the Israeli Palestine conflict, I thought I’d balance out the content this week by writing about funny moments in Hip Hop history. I love to laugh. Comedies and sitcoms tend to be what I gravitate towards in the film realm. That said however, being funny typically isn’t a central focus in Hip Hop, or music in general. The topics for Rap music are varied; from politics and social consciousness, to style and swagger, to partying and blinging, to keeping it real and representing. Comedy however isn’t big for Hip Hop. Occasionally a song like “Parents Just Don’t Understand” or “Thrift Shop” which present rappers in more lighthearted, self-effacing contexts does well, but while those stories may be “chuckle-worthy” if you will, they’re not laugh out loud hysterical. That said, every once in a while something hilarious happens in Hip Hop. Typically the funny in these moments is unintentional, and for me that’s what makes them so enjoyable. It’s not only what happened, but thinking about what may have been going on in the heads of those involved that I find truly hysterical about these instances. With that in mind, here are 4 moments in Hip Hop that for a variety of reasons, always crack me up.

4) Suge Knight – “All in the videos. All on the records. Dancing.”

Suge

“Funny” isn’t typically the first word that comes to mind when people talk about this moment of Hip Hop infamy from the 1995 Source Awards. We all know the backdrop: Suge approaching the peak of his run as the head of Death Row Row Records taking a direct shot at Sean “Puffy” Combs, the head of Bad Boy Records; Death Row’s main competition at the time. Many trace the start of the East Coast vs. West Coast mid-90s Rap feud to this moment, and given how tragically all that ended, it’s easy to discredit any funny in this moment. Trust me, I get that. But take away the historical context of the 24 months or so that followed the ’95 Source Awards, in and of itself watching Suge go up there and deliver his acceptance speech, and then going into an off the cuff mini-rant about Puffy’s perceived over-involvement in his artists’ material always gets a rise out of me.

Probably a bit tipsy, after thanking a handful of people for their involvement in Death Row’s success, Suge starts the Puffy dig with a slurred “and one other thing I’d like to say,” then announces to his audience, “any artist out there that wanna be an artist and wanna stay a star”, and eventually gets into dissing (but never actually naming) Puff; “that don’t have to worry about the executive producer tryin’ to be…” And this is where I start to laugh. Suge draws out his speech for emphasis, “all in the videoooos, all in the records…” and then pauses again, as if thinking to himself, ‘what else does this clown do on camera? oh yeah…’ – “DANCING, come to Death Row!”  It was a controversial moment that played a major role in shaping the course of Rap for years to follow. But just the fact that Suge decided to attack Puff at an award show is amusing in that he actually had that little respect for not only Puff, but the event itself.  It was Suge’s time, and in Suge’s world, no way a dancing in the video, shiny suit wearing, executive producing hype man who adlibs too much on tracks was going to take his spot.  So he calls out Puff, drawing out phrases with a mocking tone being the goal, but falling way short because sarcasm and wit aren’t really Suge’s strong points.  And he had a point; Puff was always dancing in videos and had his vocals all over his artists’ songs.  It was funny because it was true. Given that Suge’s known for his straightforward intimidation tactics, when he stepped out of his character and tried to be backhanded and subtle, the results were hilarious.

3) Jay Z taps out Lil’ Mama

Beyonce

During the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, for some ungodly reason Lil’ Mama (whose star power doesn’t come close to matching either Alicia Keys’ or Jay Z’s) decided it was a good idea to “join” them during their performance of the smash hit, “New York”. That in and of itself was hilarious, but in the first clip above, at about the 19 second mark Jay Z taps Lil’ Mama in the leg as if to insinuate, “that’s cute sport, now get off the stage and let us do our thing here.” Combine that with the horror on Beyonce’s face as she tries but fails to stop Lil’ Mama on her way to the stage along with the very evident snub from Jay and Alicia when they close the song back to back, having barely acknowledged Lil’ Mama’s presence (with Lil’ Mama standing awkwardly to the side in a b-boy stance, trying to save face), and it all adds up to another hilarious award show blunder. I appreciate that Lil’ Mama felt the energy of that song so much that she decided to crash the performance, but c’mon, you can’t actually allow yourself to go there, right? Well, apparently Lil’ Mama thought differently, and though I can’t agree with her actions, for comedy’s sake I’m glad she did it.

(Side Note: There was another Alicia Keys related moment I remember watching way back in 2002, where Puff Daddy was presenting her an award for her hit album, ‘Songs in A Minor’ and inexplicably misread the teleprompter, referring to the record as ‘Songs in a Mirror’.  As funny as that was, lamentably, this is one of the few times the internet has failed me as though I search for about 2 hours, I could not find a copy of this clip online. If anyone can track that down, please email (jplime@gmail.com) or tweet me (@Scholar_JPL) the link.  My funny bone thanks you in advance.)

2) Kanye West – “HOW SWAY?!?!?”

Kanye’s good for controversy. Whether calling out George Bush on live TV after Katrina, beating up the paparazzi, or mid-show diatribes about being marginalized, Yeezie’s strong views and personality keep him in the news.  Many of the incidents he’s involved in aren’t funny at all, and when he’s having those moments comedy is not typically the intent (not to say that he can’t poke a little fun at himself).  That said, it’s his fight with Sway from November of 2013 that I find hilarious and cracks me up every time I see the video.

Discussing Kanye’s ongoing battles with the high-fashion industry, Sway introduces a hypothetical situation of Kanye building a smaller clothing line and working his way up to high-fashion.  At this point, Kanye, who’s invested many man-hours studying and millions of his own money to break into the high-fashion world, becomes infuriated and disgusted at Sway for even posing the question in the first place. From the moment he yells out, “HOW SWAY!?!?” to the now infamous, “YOU AIN’T GOT THE ANSWERS!!!” to “you ain’t been doing the education!” to mocking Sway’s failed attempt at his own smaller clothing line, “it ain’t no RALPH though, it ain’t RALPH level. What’s the NAME of your clothing line?!?!? We don’t KNOW!!!” – the hits just keep on coming. The way Kanye puts emphasis on certain words and phrases and the sheer look of repugnance he has throughout the tirade makes the moment even funnier. We all know how confident Kanye is, but to watch how much Sway’s questioning insulted him, seemingly at his core, and hear him combat everything Sway threw at him (“ain’t no hold up!”, “I ain’t trying to disrespect you PERIOD! Let me talk if you gonna have me talk!”), it just made for great internet TV. To his credit, Kanye did go on to apologize to Sway for turning up, and eventually provided an articulate and passionate explanation of his struggles in high-fashion.  But that brief 2 minutes or so where Sway pissed him off stand out as one of the funnier, impromptu moments I’ve ever seen in Hip Hop.

1) ODB – “I went out and bought me an outfit today that costed a lot of money, today, because I figured that Wu-Tang was gonna win.”

As much as I enjoyed all the moments we’ve already mentioned, nothing cracks me up more than Ol’ Dirty Bastard rushing the stage at 1998 Grammy Awards. With the Wu-Tang Clan having lost the award for Best Rap Album Category earlier in the night to Puff Daddy, a disappointed ODB waited until Shawn Colvin was walking up to the podium to accept her Song of the Year award for “Sunny Came Home” to convey his frustrations. Now don’t get me wrong, I feel for Shawn Colvin. Nobody deserves to have their celebratory moment interrupted, and I don’t condone ODB’s methods here. But versus another famous award acceptance interruption, namely Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009, where to this day most attack Kanye’s actions as rude, self-centered, and highly inappropriate, when ODB did it, it amused us on so many levels.  To most it was classic Dirty being Dirty and we laughed it off if only because we had grown accustomed to enjoying his eccentric, amusing, and often inebriated public persona.

Kanye’s polarizing, and though not all of his “rants” should be dismissed as just him being a jerk (the man does make many valid points that too many media outlets too often attempt to discredit), because he toes the line between confidence and arrogance (and some would argue that’s mildly put), it’s easy for people to attack him for the Taylor Swift incident. ODB didn’t have that arrogant stigma. If anything, as much as we grooved to his music, we also loved him because he consciously tried to entertain us and make us laugh. However you may feel about the appropriateness of picking up a welfare check in a limo, how can you not laugh out loud when watching that bit from MTV News? As such, when Dirty went up on stage and ranted about the money he spent on his fancy suit because he was sure Wu-Tang would win, at first your jaw dropped but ultimately you just had to smile. And it only got better from there. “I don’t know how you all see it, but when it comes to the children, Wu-Tang is for the children. We teach the children. Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best.”

A clearly inebriated ODB, in a fancy, crimson suit that ‘costed’ him a pretty penny, bumrushing the stage during someone else’s acceptance speech to proclaim that the Wu-Tang Clan, a hardcore rap group, was for the children. His attempt at diplomacy, that is acknowledging that he appreciates Puffy but that Wu-Tang Clan is ‘the best’ just made it even funnier for me. You know, because interrupting Shawn Colvin to make his point was okay, but he’s gotta make sure Puff’s ego isn’t too bruised. Pure gold. You can’t script that type of stuff. And not to beat the Kanye comparison to the ground, but it didn’t hurt that ODB closed with some degree of politeness; “I want you all to know that this is ODB, and I love you all, peace.” It softened the blow in terms of the potential backlash for interrupting another artist at the Grammys. We knew it was messed up, but it was funny. It was one of those seminal ODB moments and to his credit he did wish everyone a good night before being ushered off the stage.  You just can’t stay mad at ODB. It’s just much more enjoyable to laugh at his antics than it is to castigate him for them.  He is truly missed.

That concludes my list. I hope you’ve enjoyed revisiting these moments and that you can appreciate the funny in them, even if you hadn’t previously. To reiterate, Hip Hop isn’t really a forum where comedy is often intended or even celebrated when it does occur. But as stated earlier, I love to laugh, and when you’re someone who enjoys a good laugh, finding comedy in places one wouldn’t normally look becomes somewhat of an art form. It’s one of the unintended reasons that a lot of reality shows like ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ and ‘Love & Hip Hop’ have some success. They’re not necessarily supposed to be funny, but many of the ridiculous things that occur on those shows are so out there that some of us just have to laugh at them. It’s the same with these moments in Hip Hop. Starting a bi-coastal feud, interrupting your peers during their time to shine, verbally attacking your interviewer, etc… aren’t intended to make one laugh, but the way those moments played out resulted in high comedy. And as much as I love Hip Hop for the culture and the music, at times I just like to ease up and smile at some of the off the cuff stuff that’s happened over the years. It’s a feel-good, healthy practice, and you better believe I can’t wait for that next rant or blunder to occur so that I can play that video clip over and over again. :-)

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Oddball Magazine – An Introduction

Back in May, the good folks at Oddball Magazine decided to run a piece featuring our video for the track ‘What You Need’, off our 2012 LP entitled ‘Blue Star Boulevard’.  Having had several conversations with Editor and Owner Jason Wright, we at JP Lime Productions are not only returning the favor and running a feature on Oddball Magazine, but also plan to work more closely with them in the coming months, pooling our collective talents to bring our respective readers more fresh, varied content.  That said however, for the time being we invite you to read the following interview we conducted with Jason and implore you to check out his poem entitled, ‘A Letter To The World‘ which you can read here. You can also watch Jason perform the piece here or at the bottom of this post, after the interview.  Lastly, be sure to satisfy your poetic thirst at www.oddballmagazine.com.  Now, onto the interview.

Oddball Magazine

What’s up Jason? Lets get right down to the nitty gritty. What exactly is Oddball Magazine?

Short answer is I don’t know. I mean it’s a poetry magazine that I have poured my heart and soul into.  It’s is a hybrid of poetry and art, photography, mixed with both amateur poets and seasoned poets.  We feature slam, abstract, lyrical, and plain ol’ odd. We are the pulse of Boston poetry.

Click here to find out more about Oddball Magazine

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Casting a Biopic

BET AWARDS '14 - Red CarpetNews broke this week that Nick Cannon was strongly being considered to star in the Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? biopic and many people, including Richard Pryor Jr., were initially unconvinced that he could carry the role. That is until Cannon started working through the mannerisms, body language, hair and habits of the deceased comedian and folks began to go, “Oh wait, I can see this now, how did I miss it before?” Cannon showed up at the Bet Awards with an afro and moustache that looked oddly familiar and in a TMZ interview last Wednesday he talked about but didn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t confirm that he’d been offered the role after conversations with planned-director Lee Daniels. Soon after, Richard Pryor Jr. was asked about his opinion of Cannon playing his father and said that he’d recently been convinced, and that Cannon was the second-most qualified person (after himself) to play the role. The Pryor biopic project has been around but unable to get off the ground for quite some time. Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company was attached at one point as was Forest Whitaker. Director Lee Daniels has recently been strongly tied to the film but as yet is unconfirmed while actors Eddie Murphy, Marlon Wayans, and Michael B. Jordan have all been rumored for the lead role in the past. Jennifer Lee Pryor, Richard’s widow, is producing the film to which Richard, Jr. has repeatedly voiced concerns. But setting aside the production mishaps and low probability that the film still has to yet get made, the idea of Nick Cannon taking on the role of a ground-breaking, idolized comedian, a true American icon is intriguing. “Nick Cannon’s hilarious”   but can he truly encapsulate such a revered figure as Richard Pryor?

What about Gary Busey as Buddy Holly? Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles? READ ON…

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NBA Free Agency – Poetry In Motion

The past week in the NBA off-season has been an eventful one indeed. Several top stars signed contracts that not only solidified their own futures but also reshaped the landscape of the entire league.  While there are still likely several dominoes to fall between now and the trade deadline next February, given the amount of noteworthy activity this past week, I’ve decided to build a post discussing all that player movement. But this isn’t just any old, stale recap and analysis; there’s plenty of that all over the web already. To add a little flavor to the matter at hand, this week’s NBA analysis will be in the form of a poem. That’s right folks; the NBA off-season is officially in full swing and with that in mind, to paraphrase the old In Living Color character, Calhoun Tubbs , “I wrote a poem about it. Wanna read it? Here it goes!”

King James is back in Cleveland, a Cavalier again.
He’s just a kid from Akron, so of course all’s forgiven.
The Decision’s now a memory, thus the fickleness of fans.
Truly tickles me a little ’cause the bitterness of man
Is just transposed from those who love the Cavs to those who love the Heat
Because he chose to take his talents far away from old South Beach.
And now the bloggers speak of growth.
They champion LBJ’s maturity
But had the Spurs gone on to choke
A three-peat brings security.
‘Cause would the King have left his throne with 3 rings to defend?
I’m glad for Cleveland’s fans, but face it, ‘Bron jumped ship again.
‘Cause he didn’t trust his team; no front-court help, a dimming Flash.
Chris Bosh is overrated, poor Dwayne Wade ran out of gas.
So enjoy it while you can Ohio, yes it will be fun
But he signed a two-year deal and can opt out after year one…

Lebron

What about Carmelo and the rest of the league’s player movement? CLICK HERE for more poetic analysis

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Total Slaughter, Complete Mess

Hollow-Da-Don-vs-Joe-Budden-610x405

It seems that on a night when it was potentially reaching its greatest audience, battle rap (or at least some of its biggest stars) wasn’t quite ready for the limelight. Complete with a paid livestream that crashed, allegations of fixed outcomes, a Daylyt meltdown of foolish proportions, more than one rapper not making it through their entire battle, and amateurish microphone issues, last Saturday’s live PPV event left many people wondering if there would be a second one and where battle rap might go next on the mainstream level.

The night was comprised of four matchups: two that were determined by the results of the show “Road to Total Slaughter”, the long-awaited rematch of their 2007 battle between Murda Mook and Loaded Lux, and the top-billed Joe Budden vs. Hollow da Don. Sway served as master of ceremonies with DJ KaySlay onstage performing a role that was unclear. Royce da 5’9” and Ebro from Hot97 performed a minute-long “color commentary” from the mezzanine after each match, but neither had much insightful to add and mostly served as distraction while the judges “deliberated”. The crowd seemed to be populated with a fair share of celebrities – Kid Capri, Busta Rhymes, Victor Cruz and others got multiple shout outs as Sway worked to fill delays onstage. And while the viewing audience was vocal at points, much of the show felt as though the crowd needed to be convinced they were having a good time. To call the event a failure would be to ignore some of the great performing that did take place, specifically from Arsonal, Mook and Hollow. Though heavily reliant on gun talk Arsonal, for example, dominated his match with Big T, clear and sharp with his punchlines, in control with good stage presence. Big T represented well but simply didn’t have the power to match Ars’ clever combination of gangsta and comedy. But where Total Slaughter was hoping to shine a light on an under-appreciated artform and make a wave as the event that brought it to the mainstream, the missteps added up to a night that seemed difficult to control and wrought with amateurism.

Was Total Slaughter a total waste? READ ON…

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On The Run – 2 Contrasting Takes On Jay Z and Beyonce’s Mega-Tour

This past Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to have attended Jay Z and Beyonce’s ‘On The Run Tour’ at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. Aside from sitting in the parking lot for an hour and half after the show and not moving, and then the very slow ride up Route 1 that proceeded, I had a great time. I don’t consider myself a hard-core concert goer, but I’ve certainly been to my fair share over the past 20 years or so, beginning in the late 80s when as a kid tagging along with my older siblings I had the pleasure of seeing the likes of Run DMC, The Fat Boys, Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick, Salt & Pepa, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. In the 90s as a teen I saw Nas, Jay Z, Foxy Brown, Puffy, Bone Thugs & Harmony, Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Lil’ Kim, Cypress Hill, the pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas, & LL Cool J (again), amongst several others. Adult life in the 2000s brought Prince, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg (twice, one time front row), The Game, LL Cool J (again), Kanye West, Jay Z (again), Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Will Smith (again), et al. my way. And most recently, just last year in the midst of his Good Kid mAAd City run, I watched Kendrick Lamar perform. So again, it’s not that I’m at a concert every month, but I’ve been to a few, so if nothing else I have a solid frame of reference when building an opinion on a given show.

I mention this because in the following paragraphs I’ve built this post in a point by counter point format using the review published on Boston.com on July 2nd, the morning after the show. Here’s a link to the review, and despite my generally not seeing eye to eye with it I do implore you to read it as it was the author’s honest take and was intelligently composed and well-written.  Let me be clear: My intention here is not in any way to bash the author, Emily Wright, an Arts & Entertainment writer for Boston.com, nor to demean her abilities and opinions. I respect her thoughts and as a blogger in my own right, respect the time that she puts into her craft. Again, I only mention my past concert experiences to drive home the point that though I may not be a professional Arts & Entertainment writer by trade, I’m basing my thoughts on 20+ years of shows that I’ve been lucky enough to attend as well as of course, my love of music, which I’m sure Ms. Wright shares as well.

That said, simply put, Emily Wright and I saw the performances differently and have generally contrasting opinions about it. We’ll start with the title of her article, “Beyonce, Jay Z Try To Do Too Much During ‘On the Run’ Tour in Foxborough”. In her introductory paragraph she expands on that notion by stating:

How right was Wright? READ ON…

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#MyFirstPhishShow

ticket

It’s all I had been thinking about for weeks.

I had downloaded the brand new album ‘Fuego’, I had created a Spotify setlist of my favorite songs, and a setlist of the songs relating to the band’s fabled land of Gamehendge. I pulled up acclaimed full live shows from phishtracks.com and played them as I cleaned the apartment, walked to work or wrote late at night. I read all kinds of Song Histories and creation stories on phish.net and phish.com. I plunged head-first into a beautiful, rich, colorful Phish pond and my excitement built. As the day approached I planned my wardrobe, our food for the tailgate, and other party essentials. It was the kickoff show of their summer tour and #MyFirstPhishShow. More than just a show, it was to be an experience and my hippie soul, full of “memories of being free”, was alive.
Rock on, journey on, READ ON…

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‘(Road to) Total Slaughter’ – the next UFC?

Arsonal vs daylyt2

Battle rap is back, folks. Not that it ever really went away, mind you, it has simply been quietly growing in crowded clubs and on Youtube channels all over the country. Just as Mixed Martial Arts was a sport burgeoning on breakout success in the early 90’s, Paul Rosenberg and the boys from Slaughterhouse believe the form of vocal performance known as “battle rap” is likewise nearing its time of mainstream success. On one of the show’s promos, Joe Budden says “witness the birth of the next great American sports league” and on July 12 they present their first Total Slaughter live battle at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC as Slaughterhouse’s own Joe Budden takes on Hollow da Don, and longtime stars of the sport, Murda Mook and Loaded Lux square off. As a shrewd precursor to this first of what they plan to make a series of live battles, the Shady Records affiliates along with watchLOUD.com are airing a four-part reality series entitled ‘Road to Total Slaughter’ whose contestants are competing for 2 undercard spots at the July event.  Eight veterans of the battle rap game from all across the country must live together in the House of Slaughter in Brooklyn and compete in a single-elimination tournament for the top two spots. Each of Dizaster, Arsonal, Math Hoffa, Daylyt, Aye Verb, Big T, Cortez, and Marv Won displays a deep passion for the sport and a dedication to their craft making for both stiff competition and lively, informed conversation outside of the battles. Slaughterhouse serves as four-headed judge to the battles while Loaded Lux and Murda Mook reside in the house as mentors.busy bee and kool moe dee
Battle rap takes its origin from one of the oldest traditions in hip-hop, the game The Dozens. Will Slaughterhouse be the ones to successfully bring battle rap to the mainstream? READ ON…

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Nicki Minaj vs. Iggy Azalea – A Battle For Rap Supremacy & So Much More

Using an award show as a platform to send a message to rivals is a practice that’s been going on for years and has provided some of Hip Hop’s most memorable moments. Who can forget Fat Joe and 50 Cent taking shots at each other at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards? Fat Joe used his time on the podium as a presenter to sarcastically announce how safe he felt courtesy of the great security provided by 50′s G-Unit and of course 50 responded by calling Fat Joe a myriad of expletives at the end of his set that night. Suge Knight effectively started the East Coast vs. West Coast ‘beef’ by calling out Bad Boy Records at the 1995 Source Awards. My personal favorite was ODB interrupting the presentation of the Song of the Year award to voice his displeasure about the Wu-Tang Clan losing to Puff Daddy in the Best Rap Album category at the 1998 Grammy Awards – “Wu-Tang is for the children, we teach the children. Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best!” Does it get any better than that? I would argue no, it doesn’t.

This past weekend at the BET Awards another such moment occurred when Nicki Minaj did everything but call Iggy Azalea out by her (stage)name.  In a move that was great for television and hopefully great for Hip Hop, Nicki delivered one of the more memorable acceptance speeches in recent history. Having just won the award for Best Female Hip Hop Artist for the 5th straight year, Nicki quickly plugged her upcoming ‘The Pink Print’ album and then confidently declared that she wanted everyone to know that “if Nicki Minaj spit it, Nicki Minaj WROTE it” (and yes, the bold pink print does in fact symbolize the emphasis Minaj placed on the word “wrote”). Playing off the crowd’s boisterous reaction (seemingly part surprise that she went there and part adulation for the fact that she went there), Nicki went on to use her body language, first locking her lips with her finger as if to signify “you know who I’m talking ’bout, but I’m not saying no names” and then striking a sexy, sarcastic yet empowering ‘swivel your hair and pop your hips out’ type pose to add more gasoline to the flame she had just lit. She went on to credit Lil’ Wayne for pushing her to improve her writing skills to the point where she doesn’t consider herself just a “female emcee” but rather an artist who can spit with the best of them, regardless of gender. To close out her speech, in a move perhaps even more potent than the “Nicki Minaj wrote it” comment, she implored BET to continue to “support authenticity.” And this is where this potential battle between Minaj and Azalea (should she choose to reply) gets interesting.
Is female emcee authenticity at stake? READ ON…

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