Jay Z, Fat Joe and the Squashing of Beef

Jay Z and Fat Joe have finally collaborated.

The headline here for a lot of sites is that Jay addresses Lemonade on this remix. If you’re a fan of New York hip-hop though, the real headline is Jay and Fat Joe finally collaborating after an, at this point, decades long cold (or lukewarm) war.

In one article I read, Joe attributed the beef to his loyalty to his friendship with Nas when the Takeover/Ether situation happened. But if you’ve really followed the NY Hip-Hop scene you know this is a beef that goes back to alleged skirmishes with Big Pun when Pun was (quite literally) terrorizing the city’s rap scene. The ‘beef’ spilled over into the EBC Tourney, nightclubs, etc, etc. Joe siding with Nas was the obvious result.

But all that said, the reality is, Jay’s had a lot of these kind of disagreements with folks. Jaz-O, Foxy, Beanie, even Dame. The difference with Fat Joe is that there was no previous relationship between the two and that Fat Joe is a true contemporary of Jay’s – maybe not as far as money or records sold – but definitely when it comes to longevity, relevance, and respect in the often fickle and hard-to-please New York Hip-Hop scene. These are two of the only guys to come out during the 88-96 golden age and maintain a certain measure of relevance more than 20 years later. I’m happy to see these two New York titans finally rep together. I also love how Bleek is always the guy facilitating Jay’s communication with certain rappers.

It’s interesting how folks always want to squash beefs with Hov. In my mind, it’s a testament to moving through your peer circles and spheres of influence with a consistency of message and purpose that renders you, to a certain degree, above the fray. You don’t have beef with people, people have beef with you. And eventually, they get beyond their beef. Sometimes it’s because you’ve amassed so much power influence that people just want to align themselves with you. Other times it’s because people realize they were being petty, or shortsighted.

Either way, I’ve always admired, from a distance, Hov’s ability to get people to fall in line without actually having to do much. He just keeps being the same old Hov and people just keep realizing that it’s kinda pointless to beef with someone who’s not beefing with you. The notable exception in all this is Nas. Jay’s always had a weird man-crush on Nas. He seeks Nas’ affirmation and regards Nas in a way that differs from everyone else I’ve seen or read about him dealing with. Someone needs to write the book on those two. They’re like Ellison and Wright or maybe Wright and Baldwin in a lot of ways. I’m rambling now, but this stuff matters to me for reasons I don’t feel like explaining.

I guess what I’m saying is, when someone has beef with you, but you don’t really have beef with them, sometimes your only option is to stay low and keep firing.

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