music / Columns

411 Music Fact or Fiction: Are Rap Feuds Pointless?

September 23, 2016 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Drake Meek Mill

Welcome to the 411 Music Fact or Fiction! This week, Chad Webb takes on Jeremy Thomas.

Rap feuds are always pointless.

Chad Webb: FICTION – An argument could be made that they have become pointless, but they have not always been so. When one rap artists slams another for no legitimate reason other than for the sake of bringing attention on himself, and the recipient releases a response track, that is usually dumb and meaningless. But there have been feuds that are deep-rooted and intense. Biggie vs Tupac, NWA vs Ice Cube and perhaps Jay-Z vs Nas. Now, we know that some just stem from idiotic remarks, but the “feud” can still have value if it elevates the game of both rap artists. Compare that to say WWF vs WCW. Both companies were forced to try and one-up the other until a winner emerged. That has happened on occasion (to a lesser degree) in the rap genre and the feuds I mentioned are examples. In the end, the consumer wins if the product is better. If having a rival results in one of them being edgy and sharp in his lyrics and songs, great. So I do think that feuds can have merit, even if the reasoning for the fight is stupid.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – I’m sure there’s a point for the artists and there was a point once upon a time where we at least got some good diss tracks out of them (“No Vaseline” and “Takeover,” anyone?) but when was the last of those? There’s a legitimate debate to be had about the merits of rap beefs and the lives they’ve potentially claimed as well, so even if there is a point now, they’re still dangerous at best because people are still getting shot at. I know a lot of people feel like they’re incredibly tame anymore because of things like the Drake/Mill feud or Nicki Minaj & Lil Kim; that being said, there are still real-world consequences in many instances and generally I feel like that makes any good tracks (not that we’ve gotten any of those from recent feuds) pointless in comparison.

Rob Zombie’s music today pales in comparison to his prime.

Chad Webb: FICTION – First we have to establish what his “prime” was. Was it White Zombie or his hit solo album Hellbilly Deluxe? I would agree that Zombie has passed his prime, but I don’t think what he’s doing now is that bad if you’re into his music. I enjoy some of what he does, but am not a hardcore fan by any stretch. Certainly I prefer White Zombie, but his solo material has some goodies as well. I think that his guitarist John 5, who has established a fanbase of his own, has kept him somewhat sharp. I like John’s influence for Zombie and think it shows. His most recent album was solid. For me, I understand the point of this question, but disagree with the wording. Zombie is an artist that pretty much stays safely in his comfort zone, so to say his work now pales in comparison to his prime is an exaggeration in my opinion.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – I don’t necessarily think it’s bad, but yeah it’s a far cry from where Zombie used to be, at least his new track. I actually liked 2013’s Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor quite a lot, but “The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore” is just a bit uninspired for Zombie as was the first single, “Well, Everybody’s F**king in a U.F.O.” Zombie has always been very, very good at delivering hard-driving, energetic music that is a lot of fun and I don’t think “Gore Whore” is a poor song, but the man set a high bar with his White Zombie and early solo days.

You have no interest in more music from Corey Feldman.

Chad Webb: FACT – I had never heard Corey Feldman’s music, so of course I couldn’t care less about new music he’s made. But for the purposes of this column, I listened to one song off of the albums he has available on Spotify. His voice is terrible and his style is all over the map. It was painful on the ear. The track “Go 4 It” featuring Snoop Dogg is hilarious because it might as well be “A Bunch of People” featuring Corey Feldman. Technology has come a long way so the crappiness of his vocals can be disguised. Eh, who cares.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – No…just no. Corey Feldman is a lot of things, but a skilled musician is not one of them. This is a pure vanity project and there’s no reason anyone should be hoping for more. The idea of a “World Tour” is crazy, and no one’s going to go see him beyond a novelty act. And if that’s all it is, that’s fine. But he’s acting like he’s going to conquer the music world and that’s just not the case. Anyway, no…it probably should go without saying that I have no interest in hearing more music from Corey Feldman.

SWITCH!

David Bowie was ultimately the best choice for Jareth in Labyrinth.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – Freddy Mercury and Rod Stewart are amazing musicians, but they didn’t have any actual acting experience and I would argue that Stewart doesn’t have the kind of presence needed. Mercury certainly had the charisma, but I don’t think that either of them would have been a perfect choice and clearly Bowie nailed the role. There’s no way I could ever imagine anyone but Bowie in the role, and he’s more or less the definition of perfect casting.

Chad Webb: FACT – Sure, I suppose. Bowie was an established actor by that point and had proved his chops in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and The Man Who Fell to Earth, among others. Obviously he had the musical prowess for the role, but his overall look meshed well with the character and the costumes also. It made sense. I know that Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Prince, and Sting were considered but Bowie made the part his own and it’s tough to think of anyone else in that role. Btw, Labyrinth is fine, but I’m partial to The Dark Crystal.

The Chainsmokers’ collaboration with Chris Martin will be their best track yet.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – The Chainsmokers are basically as good as their collaborator. And while Chris Martin is fine as a frontman, I was actually a pretty solid fan of their “Closer” with Halsey, as I’m a huge fan of the singer. I think that Martin will deliver a good track with the duo, but I don’t think it will top what Halsey did with them.

Chad Webb: FICTION – It’s impossible to really predict something like this, especially when the word “best” is used. The Chainsmokers have some good tracks (“Closer,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Inside Out”), so I can’t say for certain a collaboration with Martin will be there best yet. I have heard the snippets they posted and for now it sounds very good. I’m anxious to hear the full track though. Personally, I try to hold my opinion of any track until I’ve heard the entire thing.

With the departure of Cliff Williams, AC/DC is probably done.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION I don’t think that’s likely. I could certainly see it, but this is a band that has survived several changes, and I think that they have a distinct possibility continuing on. At the very least, I don’t see them quuitting right away; they may hang it up much sooner than they otherwise would have, but I think that “probably” is pushing it just a bit.

Chad Webb: FICTION – Correction, AC/DC was probably done with the departure of Brian Johnson. Yes, they got Axl to fill in the rest of the tour dates, but I would surprised if he signs on to do an album or something with them given his commitment to GNR. Could happen, but I won’t hold my breath. AC/DC had a legendary run and are icons. They should just hang it up if you ask me. But back to the question. No offense to Cliff Williams, but to echo Eddie Trunk, people went to see this group for Johnson’s vocals and Angus dancing with his guitar. Williams was a superb bassist, but his departure only added to the inevitable. Even if Williams stayed on, they’d still be faced with the frontman dilemma. Now, I’ve heard Angus might want to continue so he could bring Axl on full-time or hire someone new, but at his age, why? If you want to do more music, try a solo outing with guests or something. I love this band and am glad I got to see them before Johnson left, but now is a obvious time to stop.

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