A small piece on rap beefs, streaming, and our next big project!

By: T-Rod

When it comes to music, there really is no time like the present. In the world of the streaming, however, there’s room for the past at the table.

The power of the past and present and how one uses that to view an artist was very integral in the brutal exchange of tracks between Kendrick Lamar and Drake. The former has a mostly spotless catalogue, but rarely makes appearances between Baby Keem collabs and posting his burpee routine. Drake’s catalogue is much more mixed in terms of hip-hop head reception, but a larger than life persona and being battle tested set expectations that both would create waves with their beef. Of course, in a beef, the present matters most, and both artists dropped some great work, with Lamar in particular coming out on top with track variety, scathing character dissection, and a pen that was fueled by spite. “Not Like Us” is the West Coast club song spent slandering one man’s career and persona, and it’s currently #1.

So of course when one is doing well in the present, or in this case attacked for their past, streaming lets dedicated listeners return to the back catalogue.

Many didn’t enjoy Kendrick Lamar’s last album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, but in the light of his savage performance in his feud with Drake, many are having new thoughts and appreciation for an album whose conversations were already had, whose waves already settled. It re-entering the charts speaks volumes on past works mattering moreso than ever in the streaming environment; throw social media edits into the mix and any song from any record can be revived into a hit. Throw a successful rap beef victory in the mix, and there’s a reason why several songs from that album like “Mother I Sober” and “Count Me Out” have re-entered the public consciousness.

The Kendrick example is one of many; for many music fans, random events in your life can push you to an artist’s catalogue. Nostalgia, a visit to a new city, a concert, these are the stimuli that push you to revisit that one artist’s catalogue, pick apart what you know you loved and appreciate things you skimmed through. You don’t need a rap beef to entice you to revisit the back catalogue, but in this case it helps.

For me, the push to return to a personal favorite catalogue was a book. I’ve been reading Jay-Z’s De-Coded biography, a great look into his worldviews, work ethic, and genius level penmanship. Partially to get back my reading muscles, partially because I was already a fan, partially because this new rap beef was compared to his feud with Nas in the 2000s. Already having been a Hov fan and observing the power streaming has, I decided on a whim that this would be the best time to revisit his whole catalogue. What did I already know, what did I already like, what did I miss, how’ve my relationships with these tracks changed?

That’s what’s led me to embark on the journey of exploring and giving you, dear reader, a deep analysis into his discography. It’s always great to feel one’s progression from record to record, and with a library as deep as Jay’s, there’s a lot to unpack. This is just the intro to a BIG series I have planned…

So why not join in? Promise it’ll be fun.