Competition has always been a part of Hip-Hop. It was one of the driving factors that made the genre what it is today. From the days of Harlem block parties where emcees and DJs alike would battle for the crowd’s approval to the recent rise of battle leagues across the globe, competitive instinct comes with the genre. Proving that you were a better rapper than the next guy not only created a certain style unique to rap music, but it also sharpened each artist’s skills. It’s clear that in almost every rap song you hear, the rapper is claiming how he or she is superior in the game, whether lyrically, financially or all around hotter in these streets. It pushes rappers to be better at any capacity. However, it doesn’t stop with just the rappers.
From top to bottom, our culture is filled with competition. CEOs of record labels, A&Rs, DJs, producers, writers, bloggers, clothing companies and even fans of Hip-Hop handle business in the most competitive way. Everyone is trying to prove they are the best at what they do. The Hip-Hop culture is quite possibly the only genre of music where competition is completely visible all the way through. Just try and imagine a country star dropping a verse like “Control”; wouldn’t happen in a million years.
So if Hip-Hop is so competitive in every which way, why aren’t live shows? Can a live Hip-Hop show display that street battle vibe? Well, according to Lil Wayne and Drake, it can.
The Young Money frontmen just concluded a 31 show tour entitled Drake vs. Lil Wayne. The concept of the show was to have the two rap mega stars battle back and forth with their slew of hits. Themed after Capcom’s street fighter design, the two rappers would each have turns battling the other for ultimate crowd reaction. For the whole night they would go song for song until one of them eventually won. For starters, the odds of either rapper winning on any given night was so close because of their obvious individual catalogues. That being said, each show was so even split in terms of love for each rapper. On top of that, they created an app which fans going to the shows could download which would give them the opportunity to decide which rapper started the show and who won at the end of it all. An official Twitter account was also created to let fans from around the world know the score throughout the tour.
So why should this tour matter to Hip-Hop? For starters, it brought back competitive edge that fans say is missing. The tour’s vibe was way different than anything seen before because it pitted two stars against each other. Normally, massive tours like these whether with one rapper or multiple, tend to get redundant in terms of setlist, crowd reaction and outcome. This tour brought people back to the days when their favorite local emcees would battle at the house party to insurmountable acclaim. The only thing different here is that those local rappers are Drake and Lil Wayne, and that house party is a massive concert venue. Luckily, that priceless vibe remains the same. Concert goers claimed that it really felt as if they were trying their best to win. Both rappers legitimately wanted to defeat the other and control the majority of the show; a quality that Hip-Hop was built on.
It was also the first Hip-Hop live show to have total interactivity with fans. Just as in a street battle or slam poetry session, the crowd decided who’s hot and who’s not. Again, the setting might be a little different, but the ability for fans to control the outcome of a major rap concert is almost revolutionary. Being able to decide who comes out first and who wins the entire show with a touch of a button increases the fan experience exponentially.
In closing, the Drake vs. Lil Wayne tour reinforces the notion that it’s okay to be competitive in Hip-Hop. These days it seems as if rappers are too concerned with getting features for their upcoming albums rather than focusing on winning over a crowd. It is clear to see that you don’t have to be enemies to be competitive. Drake and Lil Wayne are potentially the most loyal pairing in rap today and the fact that they just battled each other for crowd support is refreshing. By them putting on this tour, all kinds of doors open for more healthy competition outlets. Rappers know that competition is just as valued to the culture than any other aspect; all they need to do is embrace it.
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