By Chucky Oldskool
Over the years it has been mentioned and speculated on. People have even speculated as to who would have won in a full-on battle. I decided to try to decode the backstory and recreate the circumstances that a beef that was mostly subliminal but did get out in some tracks was born. Most of the story has been piecemealed together from interviews over the years that the parties involved have given.
The subtle beef reportedly started when Eric B and Rakim were in Marley Marl studio recording “My Melody” Biz Markie, MC Shan and Big Daddy Kane happened to be there. Rakim the perfectionist had written, scrapped and re-written his verse several times. It was reported (but never verified by Kane himself) that Kane said “I could do two albums in the time it is taking dude to make one song” Reportedly Rakim heard this being said and took a mental note. While writing the rhyme again he included a lyric that many believe was a diss of Kane’s fast rapping style. “Putting blurs and slurs and words that don’t fit in a rhyme” though that has also never been confirmed by Rakim.
Afterwards a slow and subliminal rivalry almost became a full beef. Some say Kane was the first to fire squarely with his line in his debut album. In his 1988 song “Set It Off” he aimed directly at Rakim and said “Feel my blood fist or my death kiss, the rap soloist you don’t want none of this” After hearing an advanced copy of Kane’s “Smooth operator” with his voice being sampled. Rakim took aim and spit ” E-F-F-E-C-T a smooth operator operating correctly”. At that point a real lyrical battle could have been born. There were rumored dis songs that were written about each other that never came out. Cooler heads prevailed and after a reported phone call between Ant Live (Eric B’s brother) and Big Daddy Kane whom Ant was cool with, the two lyrical giants talked and squashed any subliminal or out in the open beef. Rakim stated in an interview “He said I don’t got any beef with you. I don’t be writing about you. People be gassin (the rivalry) I am not speaking to you in my lyrics. I had to respect that” That has not stopped many from speculating that if a battle had taken place, who would have won. That is something we will never know the answer to.