More than lyrics

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The Spectrum

Music, like sports, has been regularly used as a medium for competition for as long as egos have been in existence. Who's the best, who's the hottest, who has more money - all questions that are used to designate the top from the bottom. But in all competitive scenarios, there is a very thin line where situations can get personal and turn into something else. In hip-hop, we call that "something else" beef.

Over the weekend, Black Entertainment Television (BET) brand taped its annual Hip-Hop Awards, where rap music's elite got together to enjoy the festivities. In an environment like this, it's expected that any individual or group conflicts would be temporarily forgotten about. This potential dissipated when Maybach Music Group (MMG) founder Rick Ross got into a scuffle with Atlanta artist Young Jeezy and MMG artist Gunplay was involved in an altercation with Queens rapper 50 Cent - born Curtis Jackson - and members of his G-Unit security.

Rick Ross' issues with 50 Cent date back to 2009 and coincidentally began at a BET Hip-Hop Awards show. As Ross' longtime friend and label mate, Gunplay inherited the beef and sent threats and shots over in 50 Cent's direction. In turn, 50 released footage of Gunplay laid out on the ground unconscious from a fight.

Ross followed with direct references from the opening track off his third album, Deeper Than Rap:

"Curtis Jackson baby momma ain't asking for a cent/Burn the house down, you gotta buy another/Don't forget the gas can, jealous stupid mothaf***er," Ross raps on "Mafia Music."

These lyrics caused 50 Cent to release an image of Ross as a correctional officer, immediately crushing Ross' street credibility, which shook the rap community and led to comical cartoons of Officer Ricky.

Rick Ross and Jeezy used to be cool, but since Ross released his 2010 track "B.M.F." there's been tension between the two. It's rumored that the problems stem from the reaction to the track by Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory, who "B.M.F." is about. That further led to a series of subliminal shots through interviews and tracks between Jeezy and Ross.

To the public, there seemed to be a cool down period, but apparently there were still salty feelings after hearing "Rich Forever" from the same-titled mixtape:

"Your s**t pushed back because it ain't buzzin/Now these thugs actors all of a sudden/N****s hustle backwards all of a sudden/Can't talk snow, where the soft at?/Your man got murked, but you squashed that/Hope you knowing what we call that/I think you know just what we call that," Ross raps.

What people need to understand is that this is more than music. These men are not friends and they don't get along when they're in the same venue, as last weekend proved. Neither one needs press to sell any albums because honestly, no one is even releasing an album any time soon.

As a man, if someone openly disrespects you in a room full of people who are watching, you're expected to retaliate. How you make that happen is up to you, but something has to happen.

Imagine someone disrespecting you, calling you out by your one and only name in front of millions of people. Someone testing your credibilitybecause they don't believe you really live what you speak.

Beef is how credibility, careers and names get ruined.

If Ross buckled over the weekend, how could anyone respect him when he raps about being strapped and holding kilos in his home? With all those characters in one designated area, something was bound to happen. There are only so many hallways backstage, so it seemed inevitable for someone to run into someone.

People could die in situations like these; it's depressing. Biggie and Tupac are perfect examples of this. A more recent example is the death of 17-year-old Chicago rapper Lil JoJo and the allegation that fellow rapper Chief Keef is connected to the murder, based on tweets leading up to the shooting.

Everyone enjoys making music, money and tracks that others can relate and vibe to, so that's all it should be about. But that's not realistic. Everyone believes they're better than someone else, whether it has to do with lyrical capabilities or hood credibility.

The fights at the BET Hip-Hop Awards over the weekend could be the beginning of much to come. A video surfaced on the Internet of the altercation, but its low video and sound quality leave many questions unanswered.

I'm not trying to see a body drop from these altercations, so hopefully everyone can chill and agree to disagree.

Email: duane.owens@ubspectrum.com