Some have accused the new generation of rappers of being more concerned with swagger, crew affiliation, and money rather than having a strong lyrical content and a high skill level. Rapper Kodak Black hopes to prove everybody wrong.
Recently, the 20-year-old went on social media and suggested that he and today’s rappers are better than the MCs from the ‘90s. He also compared the lyrics in his song “Can I” to JAY-Z’s 1998 cut “Money, Cash, H—s” and seemed to say his bars are superior.
Kodak could have certainly been trolling with his post, or he could honestly believe that his lyrics are better than Jay’s and other rappers from the ‘90s.
Kodak’s braggadocios claims follow a history in rap music were being No. 1, or at least mentioned among the top five rappers, was the most important thing.
Sure, there were other times in hip-hop where the competition was more about who was tougher — like in the beef between 50 Cent and Ja Rule — but the back-and-forths that have seemingly been talked about the most were centered around who was the better lyricist.
Arguably, the earliest documentation of that desire was in 1981 when New York rappers Kool Moe Dee and Busy B battled at the club Harlem World.
In the rap generation to follow, Big Daddy Kane and Rakim sent subtle shots at each other to prove who was No.1.
Then after that, their lyrical offspring Nas and JAY-Z made history with their respective diss songs “The Takeover” and “Ether.” Eventually, Drake and Meek Mill caught the music world’s attention by going toe to toe with their battle songs.
Besides Kodak, the Detroit rapper Danny Brown is another new generation rapper who wants to be known for having the best rap skills more than anything else.
“I’m the best rapper ever and I need to be respected,” he once told the Huffington Post … “I got the best stories, the illest punchlines, the hottest interviews … And consistently prove that I’m always the most witty, the most unpredictable.”
You can throw the Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ in the category of young rappers who want to be one of the lyrical greats, and just like Kodak, he claimed to be better than one of the genre’s legends.
“I already know I’m a better rapper than Tupac is,” he told Genius. “That’s just facts. One-on-one battle, I’ll flame Pac.”
In a separate interview, Joey said that he had something to do with how good JAY-Z’s album “4:44” was.
“And you know, honestly, I feel like I was an inspiration to that album. Honestly, I know I was an inspiration to that album. It’s nothing nobody could tell me,” he stated. “I put a certain pressure on these OG’s in the rap game like they know what they gotta talk about now, because they got this young nigga Joey Badass coming out, talking about this sh– before they got the chance to talk about it. But it is what it is.”
In regards to Kodak’s post about JAY-Z and ‘90s lyrics, he quickly heard from his followers and the feedback wasn’t all good. For one, many pointed out that Kodak compared the words in his verse to a mere hook in JAY-Z’s song. Plus, he chose one of Jay’s simplest cuts with the shallowest concept.
Many also found it absurd that the Florida rapper would compare himself to one of the most celebrated lyricists of our day — one who’s crafted some of the most memorable songs in hip-hop history.
“So they gonna use one chorus that had DMX on it?” one person wrote. “This motherf—- is garbage. Jay [will] rap circles around this crack baby.”
This is the second time that Kodak has claimed to be better than a rapper who’s established himself for delivering stellar bars. In 2016 he compared himself to Lil Wayne. “Lil Wayne ain’t the best f—- rapper alive, I am,” he wrote.
The way it looks, Kodak was responding to Wayne’s 2005 song “Best Rapper Alive.”
Another young rapper who wants to come for JAY-Z is the Compton native Boogie, who told Vibe magazine that he’d lyrically “Kill” the Brooklyn rapper to be considered the best. If you didn’t know, Boogie recently inked a deal with Eminem’s Shady Records.
“Every rapper [can get it],” said Boogie. “No name drops. Definitely everybody could get it… Except for Em. Except for him.”
Whether the new generation of rappers will deliver enough classic versus and songs to be compared to the JAY-Zs and Tupacs of the world will probably be determined in the next several years.
But despite the social media murmurings of the younger generation not caring about lyrics, skills or the actual music, that looks to be inaccurate — at least according to what Kodak, Boogie, Danny Brown and Joey Bada$$ have stated.