Why Do Artists Beef But Never Actually Work It Out?

By Daniel Paiz

Let’s delve into why is it that many artists seem to quarrel and “beef”, but when it comes to actually settling anything never ever seems to get settled. We’ll look at a couple of examples, and then from there give our two cents.


As the front image of this article indicates, Cypher Sessions is very interested in why Justin Timberlake and Kanye West are feuding and more importantly, what role does Jay-Z have in all this? To give some context, Kanye stated that he did not appreciate Justin’s “Suit & Tie” with Jay-Z; Justin fired back on SNL two weeks later claiming Kanye was acting dramatic.

That’s enough context hopefully, as we definitely do not want to get into specifics any further since every other Hip Hop blog out there is doing the same thing. We are curious as to how Jay-Z will respond. Jay probably won’t say too much one way or the other for multiple reasons. First, Kanye has made beats for Jay for so long that it would more likely than not hurt Hova’s career. Jay also won’t say anything about J.T because he is his current money horse, and causing their slated summer tour would be costly, bad PR, and again would hurt his career. This isn’t to say that Jay-Z hasn’t crafted a fantastic catalog to date; it is to say however that it would push the Brooklyn emcee closer to obscurity than he expected. In any case, the more pressing question is, why won’t they settle it artistically?

As Jay-Z has shown previously in his career, it is possible to address grievances between artists. Jay and Nas had one of the most entertaining and interesting beefs Hip Hop has seen, especially since no one ended up getting hurt or dying. It can’t be that difficult to create some music that will adequately address the specific issue between artists when those we consider “unskilled” like certain trap rappers do it all the time.

In fact quite the contrary. Both Jay and Nas gained immense attention and even more listeners as their conflict went on. The same happened with Kanye and 50 Cent, Common and Westside Connection, The Game and 50 Cent, Eminem and various magazine owners, hell even ICP momentarily gained more attention than it previously had when Eminem systematically destroyed that group. If it really is a personal issue between two artists and no one can compromise or reach an agreement privately, than there isn’t much to lose publicly.

Okay, so there is something to lose publicly. Respect, endorsements, fans, business ventures and deals, for example. But that would indicate that these artists still have the same artistic integrity that they had when they started, and the same integrity when they linked up with one another and decided to collaborate.

Many of these artists that have beef really don’t consider these things (or it doesn’t seem like it publicly) when they arise, so what would it matter if they actually went through with the competition to outshine each other?

The gains that could be had would definitely be better music, more intent and work put in, as well as acknowledgment to all observers that they can improve upon their art when it comes down to it.  However, that would be a risk and in today’s music world that does not happen nearly enough.

It also isn’t something that’s purely about the music as we’re sure to see in the coming weeks and months with regards to the specific beef addressed above. All that this blogger can say is that hopefully all artists, mainstream and underground, decide that taking risks is the smart thing to do in the long-term. When artistic risks are taken, often times more than just the artists win.




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