Hip hop beef goes regional

Bruce Ndlovu
Fans of hip-hop are always told of the much fabled acrimonious beef between The Notorious B.I.G and Tupac, who at the time of their death were two of the biggest rappers in the world.

The beef led to an all out coastal war as wordsmiths from New York clashed physically and lyrically with rappers from Los Angeles.

Fast forward to a couple of decades later and switch the setting to a conflict shy Zimbabwean music industry and you have a similar situation brewing.

It all started when Harare wordsmith Briss Mbada charged Cal_vin after he had received one of his awards at last year’s Zimbabwe Hip Hop awards.

While at the time, the “beef” seemed to be between the two rappers, in the next few months the simmering tensions between the two rappers have turned into a full on back and forth struggle between Bulawayo and Harare rappers, with many jumping on the bandwagon to defend their respective cities.

The heat seems to have turned up in the last few weeks however, with the taunts between rappers from the two cities taking a regional and tribal slant.

The architect of the whole fiasco, Mbada, allegedly went on air two weeks ago and chanted some lyrics many deemed to be tribally insensitive. Accompanying him on this lyrical frenzy was fellow Harare rapper T-Gonzi who subsequently apologised for some of his utterances on radio.

“I would like to apologise to my fans, family, friends, Zimbabwe and God for the lyrics that I chanted on Zifm Stereo in a freestyle last Friday night which sounded tribalistic on Bulawayo and the Ndebele people. This comes after several complaints from people and it really pains me but honestly I have nothing against Bulawayo or its rappers and I truly had no intentions to diss the city,” he said.

This week Harare hip hop veteran Junior Brown, who questioned Cal_vin’s song of the year victory at last year’s hip hop awards, turned up the heat when he also released a diss track, titled We Run It which contained many veiled insults towards artistes from the City of Kings, Cal_vin in particular. Brown has taken offense at the claim from the city’s rappers that they are now the top dogs.

Cal_vin, who is readying a reply of his own, was quick to point out that the rivalry between the capital and Bulawayo’s rappers was not tribal but inspired by pure hip-hop competition.

“This ain’t a Ndebele vs Shona or Byo vs Harare . . . its Brizzy taking shots at me and me responding. So fans relax with that tribal talk or regional BS,” the rapper pointed out on his twitter page.