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How The Hip-Hop Industry Profits Off Of Internet Beef

Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion’s beef plays into something bigger.

Rapper Nicki Minaj's image on the left, and rapper Megan Thee Stallion's image on the right.
Credit: (Left) Tinseltown/Shutterstock, (Right) DFree/Shutterstock

Celebrity gossip always fills our timelines nowadays thanks to the endless amount of drama accounts. Therefore, it’s usually no secret when A-listers aren’t akin to one another.

It seems like sharing the top spots in the music industry doesn’t sit easily. For years, especially in the hip-hop industry, icons dish it out to each other, whether it was in their lyrics or even out in public. Will these celebrities ever be able to squash the beef and does it ring in more profit at the end of the day?

Money Makers

So far in 2024, the rap industry has watched a feud break out between female rappers Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion. However, this type of intense internet brawling is not new to the industry. For decades now we have watched feuds play out in both the studio and out on the streets, from Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. to Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. The fame and publicity stars face from this allows them to make even more money in the wake of controversy.

Being in a cutthroat industry where artists are constantly trying to experiment and do new things to break through, sometimes internet feuding is the way to make those dollar sign figures increase.

Fans can easily swoop in and accuse an artist’s lyrics of aiming at other artists with ill intention. Big drama can be created from almost nothing, and as fans, they are quick to react. Speculations can even lead to physical altercations, like the deaths of Tupac and Biggie Smalls.

Some believe that a lot of these conflicts are all used for marketing tactics to boost relevancy and sales, especially when artists are getting ready to release new music. In these cases, both parties can make a profit.

In a since-deleted tweet, singer Coi Leray spoke out amidst recent beef between Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion.

History of Feuds in The Industry

Rap beef dates back decades ago. Naturally, people working in the same industry can have a problem with one another.

One of the most notable examples of this is with Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. Many believe the disputes between the two ultimately led to their murders. With Shakur being from Los Angeles and Biggie Smalls from Brooklyn, this led to the battles between East Coast’s Bad Boy Records and West Coast’s Death Row Records.

According to Complex, while originally starting off as pals, their conflict began in the 90s, when Tupcac was shot multiple times and robbed in an NYC recording studio. When Tupac found out that Biggie and his crew were recording in that building, Tupac became suspicious that Biggie was behind the whole incident.

While hip-hop brought this duo together, it also tore them apart, and this rap beef has gone down in history unsolved.

Other hip-hop feuds include Drake and Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, along with numerous others. Rap beef, whether ending squashed or not, has been a vital, lucrative part of the culture of this industry.

Picture of rapper The Notorious B.I.G. on the left, and a picture of rapper Tupac Shakur on the right.
Rappers Biggie Smalls and 2Pac’s gained attention and success via their infamous feud. Credit: (Left) Blueee77/Shutterstock, (Right) Kraft74/Shutterstock

Tale As Old As Time

This new year’s showdown between rappers Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion came out of left field. No one expected this to happen especially when reflecting on the pair’s earlier friendship.

According to Billboard, this friendship was kind of unexpected. Nicki loved Megan’s new track and decided to hop on. The two collaborated on the hit “Hot Girl Summer” in the summer of 2019, and then later on also did the music video shoot together.

At first when Megan and Cardi B collaborated for “WAP”, Nicki still showed love to Megan even after Nicki’s troubled past with Cardi. In fact, in an interview, when talking about whether she and Nicki had a problem post-collaborating with Cardi B, Megan noted that “that’s really not the case.”

However, at the beginning of 2021, fans noticed that the two had unfollowed each other on Instagram.

@ace876media.ent1

Nicki Minaj speaks about what started the beef between her and Megan thee stallion #megantheestallion #nickiminaj

♬ original sound – Ace876media

In 2022, on Queen Radio, Nicki’s radio show, she alleged that Megan forced her to drink alcohol while she was actively trying to get pregnant. Megan went to Twitter to silence this controversy. Nicki also took a couple of jabs at Megan on some of her songs, including “Red Ruby Da Sleaze.”

2024: Unleash The Beef

Fast forward to the end of last month, and Megan’s new single, “Hiss,” garnered lots of attention for alleged shots fired at Nicki. Not only did Megan apparently target the “queen of rap,” but she also went after Nicki’s husband, Kenneth Petty.

In “Hiss,” Megan includes a clever line about Megan’s Law, rapping, “These h*** don’t be mad at Megan / these h*** mad at Megan’s Law.”

Megan’s Law requires convicted sex offenders to register in their state so that this information is made public to families and citizens. This law originated in New Jersey and has since been made a federal law by Bill Clinton in 1996.

A convicted sex offender in the state of New York, Nicki Minaj’s husband, Kenneth Petty has spent several years in jail. Petty’s record has especially become public since being married to Nicki. So, Megan’s play on words with this Megan’s Law line is a clear indication of Petty’s background.

It did not take Nicki long to come up with a diss track in response, titled “Big Foot.” She first teased the song (and its major disses) on Instagram Live; Nicki officially released it on January 29, 2024.

Nicki attacked Megan on everything from the Tory Lanez shooting to possibly sleeping with her best friend’s man. Nicki also accused Megan of using ghostwriters for her songs and even brought up her late mother. Essentially, she called Megan just about everything in the book, including a “disgusting serpent” and a “pathological and manipulative liar.”

Megan scored a victory on February 10, 2024, when “Hiss” made its way into the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. As for Nicki, “Big Foot” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. While Megan hasn’t publicly responded, she did post a photo of herself laughing to her Instagram story.

Reactions

Many fans have chimed in on TikTok and Reddit to voice their thoughts. Some speculate that Megan wasn’t directly dissing Nicki in her song “Hiss.” Others think that this rap battle may be the start of Nicki’s demise in her career.

Nonetheless, the extremely opinionated singer, Azealia Banks, offered her two cents on why these two have been acting up. Banks dragged Nicki’s finances into everything, speculating that was maybe the reason for the drama.

“I’ve probably made some f—- crazy looking s—- on here, but I’m also not going around trying to menace other artists and call them broke and tell them to pay their rent, and all that other s—- like that.”

Azealia Banks, TikTok

Final Thoughts

Clearly, rap beef is a great way to try and boost sales and an artist’s name, especially when they’re about to release new music. In a Good Morning America interview at the end of last month, Megan announced a new album and tour that will be coming this summer.

While Nicki Minaj will be embarking on her “Pink Friday 2 World Tour” next month. Is this beef a way for these two artists to drive up streams and sales before their next endeavors?

Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion aren’t the only ones who have received profit perks from their drama, other artists in the past have been in the same conundrum.

Jay-Z and Nas’ beef from the 1990s and early 2000s helped to improve Nas’ career and music sales, helping his tracks reach platinum and even double platinum.

Contrary to today, issues in the 90s and earlier ages of R&B things were settled in person. The rise of social media means that more artists settle things via the Internet, X, or music collaborations.

It is clear how this feuding plays out to benefit some of our favorite artists. Fans are quick to defend artists and even egg on accusations being made. This shows how fans fall for this industry tactic without realizing it.

And while competition is important and healthy in many industries, it can have its dangers. Friends can turn to foes in this industry at the drop of a dime, as seen with Tupac and Biggie Smalls.

Nonetheless, rap beef has, for a long time, been a major part of this industry’s culture. It’s important to note the undertones of this and the things that may go unnoticed.

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Written By

Hello, my name is Mia Jones, I'm from Grand Rapids, Michigan, but I'm currently studying Magazine Journalism at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication. I am also pursuing a Spanish minor in addition to that, and I'm apart of the Fashion & Beauty Communications Milestone program through Newhouse and the Visual & Performing Arts program at Syracuse. I absolutely love to write and create content, and I'm interested in writing about current events, trending topics, fashion, mental health/wellness, pop culture, and politics. Ideally, I would love to write, edit, or manage for a major editorial someday in a big city.

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