Nelly Vs KRS-One Rap heads will remember a lot of interesting feuds that took place during 2002, but one of the most brutal was the battle between hip-hop legend KRS-One and upstart new jack Nelly. It all started when KRS-One declared he had a beef with Nelly recording the song "#1," which originally appeared on the "Training Day" soundtrack. Kris had recorded "I'm Still #1" way back in 1988, and he felt that it was the definitive use of "#1" in a hip-hop song; arguably true considering he was in rap's upper echelons for longer period of time than Nelly has been recording total and he's still one of the most influential members of hip-hop music and culture going. It's also arguable that Nelly didn't intentionally mean this as a diss - he's probably too young to have heard the original; or if he has he didn't think his song really overlapped with a rap classic two decades removed. Nevertheless sparks flew and Kris dropped a diss song called "Ova Here" produced by the Beatminerz, performing it in a concert appearance which was widely bootlegged.
August 27, 2002 saw KRS drop his sixth solo album, KRS-One: The Mixtape. The album is quite short with four interludes making up the 13 tracks. But the album is known for the song "Ova Here" which disses Nelly for being commercial and previously dissing KRS-One. With a crashing boom-bashing beat and a relentless verbal diss the likes of which hadn't been seen since he feuded with X-Clan, KRS-One fans were ecstatic about this track. Unfortunately Kris overplayed his hand somewhat. Though he's a hip-hop legend and obviously still as good at flowing and rhyming as he ever was, his fanbase is increasingly old school heads who still remember who he was and purchase albums out of loyalty; and regrettably his "Spiritual Minded" LP of 2002 didn't win new converts because of the perception it was too preachy and that "gospel rap" was too far away from his "Criminal Minded" rap roots. Therefore when Kris dropped the line "don't buy Nelly's album on June 25th" in the second verse, it had little to no impact. Nelly's album went multi-platinum, and Nelly even included a few pot shots at KRS-One on his "Roc the Mic (Remix)." Even die-hard fans who own all the Boogie Down Productions albums and all the KRS-One solo releases might have wondered what the point was given Nelly's overwhelming commercial popularity and widespread TV and radio exposure - as boycotts go it was a total flop and somewhat embarassing for the rap pioneer to boot.
Kris also believed Nelly was contributing to the continual deterioration of this culture. During an interview with AllHipHop KRS-One states:
Nelly don’t know what the revolution is. And I may quote him on his album. "Fuck 40 acres and a mule, I want 40 acres and a pool." That’s on Nellyville right now. You can’t tell me I’m a hypocrite when you are disrespecting our entire race beyond music. Now, I live "spiritual minded." I get criticized for being too preachy.
So KRS-One not only thought Nelly had released a diss track of his earlier classic track, but believed he was bringing down their already troubled culture! He stated in various interviews that Nelly was disrespecting women of his culture, and "Disrespect Malcolm X, disrespect Martin Luther King...the lifetime work of Marcus Garvey (reparations) wiped out on a 10 million-selling album." KRS-One said in disgust during a performance in the Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC!
On a sweltering NYC summer day the South Bronx's self-proclaimed "teacher," KRS-One, was spewing some of his own heat in the Hammerstein Ballroom. He berated rapper Nelly, Hip-Hop's magazines such as The Source, XXL and VIBE, as well as Universal Records; entities which, according to the blastmaster, have all contributed to the continual deterioration of this culture. "He [Nelly] needs street credibility bad," KRS-One said, who wore a yellow shirt and khaki pants. "He knows it, Universal knows it and his management knows it. Battle KRS for street credibility. You know how much heart it takes to battle KRS? I respect Nelly's heart for that because I'm going to smash him against the wall like a mosquito." KRS-One continued to tarnish the St. Louis native's image, but with only the "facts." "You selling 10 million records to a large white audience. But all you going to say on this record [Nellyville] is 'f*ck 40 acres and a mule give me 40 acres and a pool,'" KRS-One said in disgust. "Disrespect Malcolm X, disrespect Martin Luther King...the lifetime work of Marcus Garvey (reparations) wiped out on a 10 million-selling album." KRS-One proceeded in ridiculing Missouri's discarded son and his antics. From calling him a "fucking idiot" to saying Funkmaster Flex and Hot 97 played themselves by letting him on air to rant KRS-One was at his "arrogant" best.
Nelly attacked KRS-One in various songs, most notibly in the Roc Tha Mic remix featuring Rocafella artists Beanie Sigel and Freeway! In the song Nelly claims KRS-One is old, his shit is over, and by beefing with Nelly KRS-One thinks he will get a comeback shot! (see lyrics below). In other songs Nelly continues to attack KRS-One on the fact of his age and that he hasnt had a big album for a while. Nelly states "You the first old man who should get a rapper's pension,
No hit since the cordless mic invention". KRS-One recorded many more diss tracks at Nelly mainly on mixtapes but with not as big effect as predecessors!
KRS performed in Nellys hometown and got a superb reception, making it clear that most of the 'true', 'OG' HipHop fans were siding with KRS-One on this one...and Nelly was been frozen out by his hometown, due to his disrespect for his 'teachers', and his culture! This beef gradually fizzled out, not really effecting Nelly's sales, despite his new unpopularity, due to the fact most of his sales come from 'white' teenagers, and such, compared to KRS-One's strong 'OG' audience! But this could have been very ugly, due to parts such as Nelly's verse on Rocafella's 'Roc The Mic', if KRS-One wasnt his new 'cool-headed' self, he could have taken this the wrong way and started hitting out at Rocafella, Beanie Sigel, and other featuring artists!
TALE OF THE DISSTAPES: An oral history of Nelly and KRS-One's lyrical feud
KRS One on Nelly, "Ova Here": “Yo Nelly! You ain't Fo'Reel and you ain't Universal / Your whole style sounds like a N'Sync commercial / Ignoramus, I'm the baddest with the mic apparatus / Challengin the God of rap is madness, I'll snatch your status / With this ugly lookin Billboard you could stop them / But I got enough albums to make my own Top Ten / You limited, like the spread of traffic / You bite my style off the radio so when you speak you bet I hear the static / You better Chillout like Chuck, I kick like three Norrises / One of my sixteen bar rhymes is eight of your choruses”
Nelly on KRS, "Roc The Mic [Remix]": “Cris and the herb, make it hard to swirve / Throw your hands up; if you didn't bang your rim on the curb / You couldn't hit while you was makin a turn / I strike a nerve and old MC's wantin a comeback / I got repsect but it's lost and that's a fact / Like K - "Know" one here even said your name / R - You really feelin guilty bout somethin mayn / S - Sad to see you really just want just / One - more hit please please! / You the first old man who should get a rapper's pension / No hit since the cordless mic invention / Snitchin? Matter fact stay the fuck out the kitchen / Nelly cookin with too many dimensions!”
The Bridge Wars The Bridge Wars is a now legendary hip hop rivalry that took place during the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s. The Bridge Wars arose from a dispute over the true birthplace of hip hop music and also retaliation over the rejecting of a record for airplay. The Bridge Wars originally involved The South Bronx's Boogie Down Productions, led by KRS-One, and Marley Marl's Juice Crew, hailing from Queensbridge. KRS-One and Marley Marl have since officially retired the feud, with the release of their collaborative 2007 album, Hip-Hop Lives. That historical album, historical in the sense the two rappers on the album were once bitter rivals in the Bridge Wars, was released in May 2007 with Marley Marl as the executive producer. It all happened with one phone call," Marley Marl told during a March 2006 interview. "They called me and he jumped on the phone and told me it would be spectacular for Hip Hop...My reason for doing this is to show these kids that Hip Hop beefs are not that serious." The album didnt just put an end to the Bridge Wars but continued to aks questions of Hip Hop and its culture, the track "Kill A Rapper" focuses on the unsolved murders of several of rap's biggest stars and asks why no one has ever been brought to justice.
The Bridge Wars feud began with Queensbridge-based producer Marley Marl & MC Shan's track "The Bridge" in late 1985. The track recited the praises of their home borough and some of its earlier rap crews, and this was then was taken to imply that Queensbridge was where hip hop began, even though it doesn't actually say that in the track. The line that apparently raised the issue was: "You love to hear the story, again and again, Of how it all got started way back when, The monument is right in your face, Sit and listen for a while to the name of the place, The Bridge, Queensbridge"
In 1986 South Bronx based KRS-One and his Boogie Down Productions released the track "South Bronx", a track similar in terms of content to Shan and Marl's track except singing the praises of the South Bronx rather than Queensbridge. Their "South Bronx" track made the argument for it being the real birthplace of hip hop, and also went one step further by directly attacking MC Shan with lyrics like: "Party people in the place to be, KRS-One attacks, Ya got dropped off MCA cause the rhymes you wrote was wack, So you think that hip-hop had it's start out in Queensbridge, If you popped that junk up in the Bronx you might not live." Not only id this line attack Shan's claim that Hip-op orginated from Queensbridge, but also attacked the fact that before "The Bridge" was released, MC Shan was signed to MCA Records, however he left the label after releasing an almost unheard single entitled "Feed the World". Another line by KRS directly attacking Shan was: "Show all the people in the place that you are wack, Instead of trying take out LL, you need to take your homeboys off the crack." This referred to the fact that MC Shan had attacked LL Cool J on the A side of "The Bridge" with a song called "Beat Biter", in which Shan claimed that LL Cool J had stolen beats from Marley Marl. LL Cool J never directly responded to this claim and the impending battle between Shan and KRS/BDP drew the attention away from it. Marley Marl would later produce most of LL's Mama Said Knock You Out album.
The next year, in 1987, saw The Juice Crew responded to KRS-One and BDP with the track "Kill That Noise" on Shan's album "Down By Law" which took various shots at KRS-One and mocked him for taking offense in the first place. He even denies saying hip hop started in Queens, and suggests BDP is just trying to jump on their bandwagon. KRS's main response to this was "The Bridge Is Over", a track in which most of KRS's fire was directed specifically at Marley Marl and MC Shan, although he occasionally exchanged insults with other Juice Crew members such as Mr. Magic and Roxanne Shante. Mr. Magic actually is the real cause of the whole war in the first place, as KRS and partner Scott La Rock had earlier approached him with a 12" single they had recorded entitled "Success is the Word", (under the group name "12:41"). Magic dismissed it as "whack", and then, after forming BDP, they decided to take it out on Mr. Magic and Marley Marl's popular "Juice Crew", using the whole "Queens versus Bronx" issue as a stage to do it on. Shante, mentioned in a very vulgar reference in "the Bridge Is Over", released a rap titled "Have A Nice Day", ghostwritten by Juice Crew colleague Big Daddy Kane (who was not otherwise involved in the battle), in which she took a shot at Boogie Down Productions with the line: "KRS One, you should go on vacation, with a name sounding like a wack radio station, and MC Scott La Rock, you should be ashamed, when T La Rock said 'it's yours', he didn't mean his name."
Meanwhile, another Queensbridge resident, Poet, joined in the battle, offering the strongest attack against BDP. His first single was entitled "Beat You Down", in which he reiterates that no one actually said that hip hop started in the Bridge, but then points out that Queens was very prominent in the early days of rap, but has since surpassed the Bronx as the leader of hip hop.
In the track Poet and his DJ Noel Rockwell attack KRS and BDP for their style of rapping, and again, for how they jumped on the bandwagon to start the fued in the first place, with lines like: "Can you believe it, party people? He raps like a rasta! Boogie Down Productions are full of imposters, They say things, that are not true, Now the Poet and Noel will break it down to you, Bronx started hip hop, but couldn't maintain it; now they're gettin jealous 'cause Queens has made it". The line "Rap like a rasta" was aimed at the way KRS's track "The Bridge Is Over" was recorded, with a reggae flavor, in a Jamaican accent. The track was one of the first blendings of rap with reggae.
The feud quickly died down after BDP's Scott La Rock was shot dead in 1987 after attempting to calm down an unrelated domestic dispute involving BDP colleague D-Nice. With his new "Stop The Violence" movement, KRS-One's attention lay elsewhere, and the Juice Crew did not release any further diss records for a long period after Scott La Rock's death out of respect. In 1988 however, Poet followed up with "Take you Out", which was even stronger than his previous "Beat You Down" effort, and harshly attacked both KRS's then wife, Ms. Melodie, and rival radio station WRKS's DJ Red Alert, who was on BDP's side of the battle. KRS responded with "Still Number 1, the Numero Uno Mix", where he calls Poet "soft" and uncreative, and accuses him of "sounding like Kane", although strangley KRS didnt respond to the disses on his wife in his reply.
Poet never seemed to respond to this, although some have suggested that his 1989 single "Massacre" may have been a 'between the lines' response. He later went on to be a part of the groups PHD (Poet + DJ Hot Day), and Screwball; and some of the records released throughout the 1990s, such as "The Bio" and "You Love To Hear The Stories" (a followup to the original "The Bridge", and which features MC Shan) took numerous pot shots at KRS.
MC Shan also attempted to restart the rivalry on his song "Juice Crew Law" which contained several shots at KRS. At the same time, other rappers joined in making songs dissing Queensbridge, such as Cool C's "Juice Crew Dis" which mocked "Juice Crew Law" and attacks both Shan and Shanté, and MitchSki's "Brooklyn Blew Up the Bridge, South Bronx Helped us out", which makes fun of Shan's on-stage appearances. Another rapper named Butchy B stepped in for Queensbrige, with "Go Magic", which was a promotional for Mr. Magic's WBLS radio show that begins: "I heard about you suckers with your Juice Crew Dis, you went and made a record that the people go and miss."
He followed up with "Beat Down KRS", in which he among other things, mocks the "ladidadidadiday" chant of "The Bridge is Over". KRS took more than a year to respond, but eventually did so in 1990 on the song "Black Man In Effect" from the BDP (which at that point was basically only KRS-One, D-Nice having left earlier the same year) album "Edutainment". There, he simply says "I ain't down with the Juice Crew", which by no means is a diss, just a response.
During the nineties, the beef was not forgotten by fans or the participants, but rather fondly remembered as a classic hip hop rivalry. It has since been referenced in hip hop lyrics by the likes of Cormega, Nas, Big Punisher, and Chino XL. MC Shan and KRS-One themselves acknowledged the rivalry's important place in hip hop history when they appeared together in a commercial for the Sprite soft drink in the mid-nineties, in which they exchanged battle rhymes inside a boxing ring. However, the respective fortunes of the pair in the nineties were very different; MC Shan, widely seen by hip hop listeners as the loser of the conflict, if there was one, never really recovered his reputation and later effectively retired, while on the other side KRS forged out a successful solo career and remains an important figure in hip hop today. Nevertheless, on the compilation QB's Finest, a track which was a showcase of Queensbridge hip hop artists released in 2001, MC Shan took one last parting shot at KRS-One with the comment: "Hip hop was set out in the dark, The Bridge was never Over, we left our mark."
KRS-One and Marley Marl have since officially retired the feud, with the release of their collaborative 2007 album, Hip-Hop Lives. That historical album, was released in May 2007 with Marley Marl as the executive producer. It all happened with one phone call," Marley Marl told during a March 2006 interview. "They called me and he jumped on the phone and told me it would be spectacular for Hip Hop...My reason for doing this is to show these kids that Hip Hop beefs are not that serious." KRS also contributed a verse to the 'Symphony 2000' remake of the Marley Marl classic in 1999.
TALE OF THE DISSTAPES: The following is a chronological list of records that were part of The Bridge Wars:
MC Shan - "The Bridge"Get More Info & Media For KRS-One In Our Hip Hop Forum »
Boogie Down Productions - "South Bronx"
MC Shan - "Kill That Noise"
Boogie Down Productions - "The Bridge Is Over"
Craig G - "Duck Alert"
Roxanne Shanté - "Have A Nice Day"
Noel Rockwell & The Poet - "Beat You Down" and "Take You Out"
Boogie Down Productions - "Still No. 1 (Numero Uno mix)"
MC Mitchski - "Brooklyn Blew Up The Bridge" (Defending BDP)
MC Shan - "Juice Crew Law"
Cool C - "Juice Crew Diss"
MC Butchy B - "Go Magic" and "Beat Down KRS"
Boogie Down Productions - "Black Man In Effect"