CLICK HERE FOR PART I OF THE GHOSTFACE KILLAH VS. ACTION BRONSON ANALYSIS
When Action Bronson took a shot at Ghostface Killah on ESPN’s Sportsnation a couple of weeks ago, I felt compelled to write about it. Rappers, R&B types, and even pop stars these days seemingly go at it every other week over the dumbest things. I often glance and end up shaking my head wondering why I glanced in the first place. For example, not too long ago in reaction to Jay-Z and Funkmaster Flex going at it over a smartphone app, I wrote a piece entitled Hip Hop Beef Has Gone To Poop. An app beef is indeed a far cry from the good ol’ days of Shan vs. KRS One. When I recently found out that Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” is likely about Katy Perry I wanted to laugh hysterically, but the Hip Hop in me took over and instead I thought to myself how Taylor Swift is wack for not calling out Katy Perry by name. Then I laughed at how ridiculous it was that I had that reaction to a cat fight between two pop stars. My point here is that amidst all the pettiness we’re exposed to in our hyper information, social media driven age, worthwhile Rap beefs are too few and too far between.
That said, when Action Bronson replies to the inevitable Ghostface comparison with “he’s not rappin’ like this no more,” and follows up with “I’m just being honest,” (clip below) that plants the seed for a VERY WORTHWHILE battle, should Ghost choose to take the bait. Now it’s extremely unlikely that Bronson actually wanted to bait Ghostface Killah. His history of paying homage to Ghost as well as the Twitter apologies (which we’ll discuss further shortly) that he’s posted in response to the backlash of these recent events suggests that he didn’t want what Ghost potentially had coming for him. Plus why would anyone in their right mind intentionally provoke a man who’s arguably the most lyrically gifted and overall best emcee on the game changing Wu-Tang Clan??? A guy whose rap moniker ends in Killah, no less. I’m only half-joking. I’ve emceed myself. If Ghostface dissed me first, at that point it’s on, I’d have to reply. Rap after all is a competitive sport. But I’d have to be blackout inebriated with a gun to my head to intentionally provoke Ghostface. No way, no how. Not this Scholar.
So I’ll concede that it’s unlikely Action Bronson intended to piss off Ghostface Killah. That said, one of the first bosses I had as a young professional way back when taught me that often in life but particularly in the workplace, “perception is reality.” As an entertainer being interviewed on a national broadcast, Bronson was at his workplace when made those comments about Ghost. So whether or not it was his intention, his comments were perceived by many to be a slight and as such result in bait that Ghostface could take or simply choose to ignore. As a fan of Rap music and a part of Hip Hop culture, I felt that this potential beef between Bronson and Ghost would go well beyond the pettiness of the majority of today’s disputes. It would even go beyond lyricism, delivery, fan base support, and punch lines; and that’s not to minimize how fantastic a back and forth between these two very talented emcees would be from a bar for bar, track to track standpoint.
As I covered at length in my initial piece, this battle would be laced with elements of authenticity vs. appropriation, a potential rallying cry of sorts for those who caution that Hip Hop is in danger of going the way of Rock & Roll and Jazz; i.e. genres of music rooted in African American culture that were ultimately usurped and are now controlled by White America. It’s not the only component to consider, but it’s perhaps the juiciest and one that transcends both the beef itself and the artists at play. Action Bronson, a white emcee, by his own admission has been heavily influenced by and sounds a lot like Ghostface Killah. That’s in no way to minimize Bronson’s talent, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe that a good deal of the notoriety he’s gotten isn’t because of his complexion. A lot of emcees you never hear anything about sound like other well-known, established rappers. Action Bronson is the white dude that sounds like Ghostface. In the United States of America, particularly post Eminem, you can’t convince me that it hasn’t helped his cause. It’s not the only reason he’s known, but it’s certainly a considerable factor.
I didn’t think Ghostface would reply to Bronson’s slight. I wrote in my first piece that he didn’t really need to. For starters, at 45 years old he’s a grown ass man. Additionally, his legacy in Hip Hop and pop culture is set. Action Bronson can’t hold a candle to Ghostface Killah. Ghost doesn’t really need to be bothered with the likes of Action Bronson. Though both the Rap fan and Hip Hop purist in me wanted Ghost to take the bait and put Bronson in his place, I honestly thought he’d simply keep it moving. But NEWSFLASH, Ghostface replied. In a six and half minute video (which you can view below) set to the tune of Teddy Pendergrass, Ghostface “chin-checked” Action Bronson. From my standpoint, he didn’t quite “ether” or deciminate him in the way that many other Hip Hop sites are reporting. But he certainly fired a loud and clear waning shot. Let’s dig in.
Ghostface replies in a noticeably upset, yet eerily calm, cool tone. He’s not happy, but he’s not going ham. It’s as if he’s conveying to both Bronson and whoever views that despite his frustration, he’s going to handle his business like a boss. He gets right to the point.
“I gave you a grace period.”
“I was supposed to destroy you a long time ago.”
Ghostface comes back to these points at the end of the video, but he’s effectively emphasizing the fact that he allowed Action Bronson to gain notoriety without calling him out on the obvious sonic and stylistic similarities. To be clear, whereas they do sound alike and both have a penchant for coming up with very lyrical, super creative rhymes, Ghostface is the more complete artist. Ghostface can and has over and over again deliver a track like “All That I Got Is You“, where he sacrifices some lyricism for vivid storytelling and the type of raw emotion that pierces at one’s heart. Bronson is at his best when he sounds like the Ghostface that comes up with crazy metaphors and complex rhyme patters. But Ghostface also has soul. That said however, Ghost’s point is very clear. He could’ve gone after Bronson early, but he let him eat. That Bronson up to this point had done nothing but praise Ghostface Killah surely has something to do with why Ghost sat back and watched.
“Who gives you the right to mention my name out your muthaf***ing mouth?”
“You could never fu*k with my pen.”
Ghostface goes on to tackle Bronson’s comments first hand. By never up to this point having attacked or so much as said anything negative about Bronson, Ghostface was being respectful of the up and coming artist. But when said artist undermines Ghostface’s prowess as an emcee (“he’s not rappin’ like this no more”), all that goes out the window. Ghost asserts that from an emcee skill standpoint, Bronson can’t touch him.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE ANALYSIS ON GHOSTFACE’S REPLY TO ACTION BRONSON…