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50 takes on Ja in “Beef”

New film documents the history of hip-hop feuds

“It’s not like I got a rap beef with this nigga,” 50 Cent says of
his feud with Ja Rule in the new hip-hop documentary Beef,
the first in a series of five films. “I just don’t like him . . .
He’s a fruit-pot. Nigga doing duets . . . he’s a pop artist.”

Produced by Quincy D. Jones III [a.k.a. QD3], Beef
looks at the history of rap battles and feuds — from Kool Moe Dee
to 50 — and will be released on DVD/VHS by QD3 Entertainment on
September 30th. With actor Ving Rhames narrating, the film opens in
Harlem nearly twenty years ago with what most claim to be the first
hip-hop battle, between Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee.

It’s hard not to laugh at the cartoonish old-school style of
Busy Bee, or when KRS-One cracks up at the notion of a freestyle
battle between himself and Nelly, but the film shows how the beef,
originally a match-up of lyrical wits, has advanced to, in the
cases of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., murder.

“The idea and motivation for making Beef came from
being close with Tupac,” says Jones. “[We] did a lot of music
together, and when we lost him, I was impacted heavily. That loss
inspired me to analyze other beefs in hip-hop to show the very real
effect these beefs have on the lives of the artists as well as
their families.”

To tell the tales, Jones dug up archival footage of some of the
earliest MC battles in New York and conducted dozens of interviews
with artists involved in notorious feuds past and present — 50 and
Ja, Ice Cube and N.W.A., Jay-Z and Nas, Common and Westside
Connection, Ice-T and LL Cool J, and others.

“It was important to us that the artists featured in the film
all felt as if we let both parties fully express their side of the
stories,” Jones said. “All the stories are told by the artists
themselves, to end any speculation surrounding some of these
situations.”

There are also cooler moments of clarity. Rapper True Life
admits to regretting the infamous day when his crew paid Mobb Deep
a visit to their studio with guns, pistol whipping one man and
making the Mobb Deep crew take their clothes off. “I look ignorant;
that ain’t me,” he says after he’s shown old footage of himself
bragging about the incident. “I slipped and made a mistake.”

And the film ends with the solemn words of Tupac Shakur’s
mother, Alfeni Shakur: “I miss my son.”

In This Article: 50 Cent

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