by: Shavontae Patrick & I.S. Jones
On February 25, 2017 a feud deferred filled the speakers and headphones of hip-hop stans, and many that indulge the culture listened in awe to the slaughter Remy Ma produced in her diss track “Shether”. The target being the boss, the ninja and resident “Queen of Rap”, Nicki Minaj. On this nearly 7 minute track, the Bronx native Remy Ma spits over Nas’ classic “Ether” beat, fitting being that “Ether” is recognized as one of the greatest diss tracks of all time. Much like Nas’ diss against Jay Z, Remy used “Shether” to not only remind Nicki her reign as queen was being threatened but that with the crown comes responsibility.
Remy left no subject untouched from Minaj’s questionable body modification, to her previous failed relationships and even called Minaj out for supporting her brother, Jelani Maraj, who is set to stand trial for the sexual assault of a 12 year old girl. The most successful bit in the track is Remy challenging Minaj about her 70 million dollar net worth. Minaj is currently the highest paid female MC in the game and while featuring on Gucci’s “Make Love” she reminds Remy of this. In all shade she raps, “She ain’t eatin’ but I swear she got some bum a—taste / Text her man like, “Dawg, how that bum a—taste?” / Pay your rent! And stay in your bum a—place.” Perhaps the indirect reference towards Papoose stirred her opponent’s rage, either way Remy was having none of it and spells out for listeners how irrelevant net worth in the rap game is compared to skill as she breaks it down: “And stop talking numbers, you signed a 360 deal/ Through Young Money, through Cash Money, through Republic/ Which means your money go through five niggas before you touch it / Any videos, promotions come out of your budget/ Endorsements, tour and merchandise, they finger-fuck it/ You make like 35 cents off of each ducat”. Collectively, Remy Ma’s fan base argue if not her for incarceration, she would have exceeded Minaj in terms of sales and net worth.
“Shether” for Remy Ma was an effortless delivery as she is not new to demanding respect being a veteran battle rapper, but also the diss track was an ingenious tactic to elevate the rapper’s stance in the game. As the only female rapper in The Terror Squad, Remy Ma was beginning to rebrand herself while Nicki still held onto the crown. While Nicki only had a verse, Remy almost had to have an entire track to prove Minaj could be challenged and for so long that was just was not the case. Onika cleaned up house as the “hottest female rapper” out because there was no one else. We have Trina and Eve operating in the same era, but Nicki was chosen, so to speak, over the rest. By now “Shether” has been played on a loop from the internet to the club, and while others argue over net worth, longevity, and women being pitted against one another, hip-hop fans await impatiently for Minaj’s response. Minaj attempts to distract her fans with clips from her upcoming video with Future, this feud is probably one of the best things to happen to women in hip-hop in a while. Just in time for National Women’s History month. While many fans choose to overlook it, femcees are so easily disposed of and it’s disgusting. Remy Ma has now opened up the possibility for multiple women in hip-hop to be acknowledged in a way the game has never seen before. We are hoping Nicki comes back with that fire, but even if she doesn’t, this is definitely a win for women in hip-hop.
In hip-hop’s culture, it is rap beef that not only keeps the genre lively but it also feeds and nurtures critical discourse. For many old heads of the culture, they remember the jean jacket stand-offs, the b-boy battles or the infamous battle of The Cold Crush Brothers and The Fantastic Romantic Five. While The Fantastic Romantic Five won the battle with their fly threads and irresistible lady killing vibes, it is said that The Cold Crush Brothers were the most relevant after that battle when the tapes revealed their undeniable flow. Hip-hop beef was never purely about who won the battle because in the end what remained was the story and the music that was relevant decades after it was released to the streets.
However, while the rap game forever immortalizes our male MCs for their quick wit and ability to ‘50 cent‘ the competition, it is our female MCs who are rarely recognized. Remy Ma’s diss track is important to hip-hop not because she is spearheading the force that is Nicki Minaj, but because historically any time two women in hip-hop beef it reminds folks that they been out here spittin’. Let’s take it back for a second to 1988 when MC Lyte drops “10% Dis” in response to rapper Antoinette for biting Audio Two’s record “Top Billin’”. During this time we all know MC Lyte and Queen Latifah were running the show as far as femcees but after Antoinette responded in multiple records, the most popular being “Who’s The Boss” , everyone knew her name. I would argue that “Who’s The Boss” made folks question why they never gave Antoinette a serious listen or perhaps why they only made space for a select few femcees in their record collections?
“Shether” is more than a lyrical beating or a MC drag if you will, it is a part of the HERstory built that keeps female MCs relevant. “Shether” will be remembered as a site of triumph. It will remind us that competition is the reason we thought of Remy as more than a hypothetical threat. Although we all knew Remy was capable of yanking Nicki’s barbie chain, after Ma’s incarceration she dropped a few tracks and we barely gave them a listen. Soon she joined Love and Hip-Hop New York and we sort of gave it a side-eye until Remy and Papoose stole our hearts. The point is we didn’t see her coming hard for her spot and we forgot she was a problem. “Shether” woke us up, previously any female MC who challenged Nicki has been forgotten. Like, we all knew Baltimore rapper Keys was an issue when she came at Nicki in her parking lot impromptu rap diss screaming, “You not hard you’d get killed round these parts/ Fuck tryna get shine off your name/ I’m a motherfucking bully, I ain’t worried ‘bout the fame.” And although we downloaded shorty’s music, who really bumped “The Infiltration” after a week?
We are going into another week and the meme community is asking Nicki like, sis, what’s good? Rap beef is pure because there is nothing that can save you except skill. If nothing the only thing Nicki has taught us is to stay in your bag, and stop being scary (it’s embarrassing). Nicki forgot that history repeats itself and no crown is safe nor is anyone exempt. For the sake of Nicki Minaj’s street cred and her crown we pray she steps up to the mic soon. It will take more than a few RTs and instagram photos for and from her fans to stop folks from wondering if her and Meek Mill belong together, one L united.