Beef. There's no end of it in hip-hop. The latest slab of charbroiled cow quickly overcooked to briquette-like crispiness in cyberspace is the ongoing conflict between famed rap writer Adisa Banjoko and legendary emcee KRS-One.
The drama started about two years ago, when Banjoko challenged KRS to a debate over the rapper's bold statement "I Am Hip-Hop" also the slogan of KRS' organization, the Temple of Hip-Hop claiming that such identification shouldn't supersede religious, cultural, or ethnic affiliations. From there, the two could've debated their ideas, made their respective points, and agreed to disagree. But instead, the feud simmered until it fully boiled over "Know the Ledge," a March 4 conference for Stanford University's Hip Hop Archives. The stage was set for a showdown when KRS walked in, accompanied by Busy Bee (best known for his appearance in Wild Style back in, like, the Paleolithic era) for a panel discussion entitled, interestingly enough, "I Am Hip-Hop." To make a long story short, KRS completely flipped out when he saw Banjoko on the panel. The emcee proceeded to launch into a contradictory diatribe that made him seem like an ignorant egotist in front of intellectual hip-hop's best and brightest, and may have caused considerable harm to his reputation in the process.
As Dave Chappelle might say, KRS' outburst was a classic case of When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong. Not only did he claim Banjoko was an "enemy of the culture" and an "FBI agent," but even more egregiously, he dissed Too $hort, perhaps forgetting he was in the Bay Area at the time. He also insisted that "You can't go to college and say you're hip-hop," perhaps forgetting how much money he's made on the college lecture tour circuit, or his 1989 song "You Must Learn." He claimed he represented the epitome of hip-hop because he was from the South Bronx, before being informed that several panelists, including Davey D, Joan Morgan, and Mark Anthony Neal, also hailed from the Boogie-Down.
Astonishingly, KRS threatened to jump over the table and beat Banjoko's ass, which seemed at odds with his role as founder of the Stop the Violence Movement. The only thing missing, it seemed, was for KRS to put his foot on the table and say, "I am hip-hop, beeyatch!"
Banjoko, to his credit, remained mostly silent during KRS' outburst.
Word of the bizarre incident quickly spread though blogs and chatrooms (audio is available at AllHipHop.com and ProHipHop.com). Some thought KRS was justified; others thought he acted like an idiot. As an eyewitness, I'd have to go with the latter point of view KRS did more damage to himself with his own words than Banjoko could ever have done, and came off not like a teacher, but like an intellectually challenged bully.
The situation then took a strange turn: KRS' zealous disciples, the Hip Hop Templars, continued to threaten the writer, incurring the wrath of Banjoko's fellow Muslims, particularly the brothers of the Compton mosque, who came this close to declaring a jihad against the Los Angeles-based organization.
The beef has since been squashed (visit DaveyD.com for info), but not without the intervention of hip-hop's Godfather, Afrika Bambaataa, who reportedly held a two-hour mediation and told KRS and Banjoko to make peace because the incident was "bigger than hip-hop." And even keeping it real has its limits.
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