In 1998, the breakout success of the infamous boy band sensation known as the Hanson Brothers was the only thing my suburban peers were talking about.
I was in the third grade when I won the elementary school-age lottery and found myself third row at the biggest concert venue in my hometown. My best friend confirmed our lifelong friendship when she eagerly chose me to join her after her father surprised her with two tickets to the hottest show in town (well three tickets, because he had to suffer through the boy band's crooning and pre-teen swooning to supervise us). My 8-year-old confidence was through the roof after that. Even though I was maybe too young for my first big concert, at that time, I had too much sauce and the world was mine.
Years later, I found myself third row once again, this time at a Nas concert, covering the special occasion for my job as a music journalist. As he powered through his classic catalog, I couldn't help but think back to the last time I rocked a show from such unforgettable seats, wondering what my childhood best friend was up to at that very moment. We hadn't talked in roughly a decade, and from my fleeting memory, it was because of her opposing opinions regarding the Spice Girls. I'm dead serious. S**t got that real. You either sided with me and we ate lunch together, or you sided with her and I kept a petty distance.
While my hip-hop peers of today had been discussing the Notorious B.I.G. versus Tupac, firsthand experiencing the most iconic and definitive rap beef of all time, I was boasting some stubborn music preferences myself while sporting my first-ever pair of Nikes and talking PG-rated smack on the basketball court at the neighborhood YMCA. Now that it's the year 2017, such beefs may not end friendships as drastically and permanently as they did in the 90s but do they escalate as quickly as they are resolved? Or, does the Internet never forget, honestly truly?
This month, my pen game has focused specifically on the antics of Soulja Boy and Chris Brown. As their beef began in a traditional sense, with each fighting over the affection of the same woman, it grew into a possible celebrity boxing match inspired by 50 Cent and further supported by Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson. If this was 1995, such an evolution would have taken weeks, maybe even months, and been soundtracked with an assortment of fiery diss tracks. However, until Fif got involved, Soulja was already apologizing to Breezy, even proposing the idea of working together and "being friends." So, one has to ask, will we still be talking about this a week from today? Will the idea of a high-stake boxing match gain momentum over time or fizzle out as a new beef with new players is placed front and center on every music website?
I personally would be elated if I could focus on literally anything else than Soulja Boy's video selfie confessionals, reminiscent of a millennial Real World, but judging from his track record, that won't be the case. However, unlike the case of Meek Mill vs. Drake, a modern rap beef permanently etched into our culture, Soulja Boy has so much going on, it's not always exactly clear who his problem is with. Soulja Boy vs. the World makes it much so harder to keep track, and therefore we become less engaged from the sidelines.
Naturally, that phenomenon snowballs because Soulja still wants the spotlight on him, so he picks bigger targets to air his frustration and test his luck with. As fans wonder if he'll end up getting locked up or losing his shiny World Poker Deal as a result of his aggressive Instagram tendencies, we're still talking about it and having a good laugh over the madness, aided by such gifts as him getting spontaneously attacked on camera. Although we may have trouble personally investing in the beefs he ignites, the way that we do when it comes to Meek and Drizzy, Soulja Boy is a lowkey marketing genius. At times, he's blissfully unaware of the long term affects his idiocracy may have on his career, but right now, he's got us in the palm of his hands where he wants us. While I hate it, I can't help but semi-respect it.
Question is, how exactly long will it all last?