Where’s the Beef? How Social Media Changed the Music Feud Game

Jessica Yoo
December 4, 2015

A quick scan of our blogging history makes it pretty clear: We’re music-obsessed here at ChatterBlast. Whether it’s deciding what tunes to play through our nifty new office speakers (please, Evan, we can’t listen to “Hello” anymore) or furiously debating which pop star released the hottest “banger” this year (it’s Bieber), we certainly have music on the mind. So it comes as no surprise that given our interest in pop culture, we’ve also been tuned into 2015’s biggest beefs between our favorite artists as they went down in real time on social media.

Old School Beef

The fact is music feuds know no bounds and have existed since the beginning of time. Even 18th century composers knew how to throw shade. And then there were the ‘90s, a decade where beefing reached new heights with the feud that in fact changed the rap game (and the world) forever: the rivalry between Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac.

Spanning years and involving two record labels, two coasts, and two of the greatest rappers in history, the beef literally played out in the music, inspiring diss records and even evolutions in hip-hop form and cadence. Although it ended tragically, the impact of the feud changed the landscape of the music industry and how future beefs unfold—the beef between Jay Z and Nas and the years of exchanging diss tracks are a testament to that.

With the media and tabloids as well as an industry made up of major talent and megaton egos, you’ve already got a recipe for serious drama. But when social media entered the picture, everything changed. In addition to giving these pop stars another means to navigate their public images, social media also began catering to id and impulsivity and providing a way to interact directly with peers and fans alike. In the context of music feuds, social media essentially added fuel to the fire. With Twitter and Instagram, the public no longer has to wait for responses or diss tracks because the shots could be fired in a matter of seconds.

For context, take the two biggest feuds of 2015: Taylor Swift vs. Nicki Minaj and Drake vs. Meek Mill. Instead of using traditional media or music, both beefs started on Twitter as direct and very public exchanges. But how did social media affect how they unfolded?

Beef Case Study #1: Nicki and Taylor

The speed of escalation and responses increased as a direct result in a Twitter beef. Five minutes after Taylor tweeted to Nicki regarding what she thought was directed toward her, Nicki fired back, amassing thousands of retweets and immediately dominating the pop-culture conversation.

Pretty soon, the newly deemed feud was trending on Twitter, amassing dynamo amounts of attention (and followers) for both artists. The public refreshed with bated breath, but they didn’t do so quietly. Because with the public arena of Twitter, fans and even other celebrities could easily voice their opinions and play an active role in the feud, essentially democratizing the power of beef. Case in point: when Nicki retweeted her fans’ support with praise hands emojis to boot.

Beef Case Study #2: Drake and Meek Mill

This also touches on social media’s relationship with accountability. After Meek Mill insulted Drake on Twitter for allegedly hiring ghostwriters, there was a built-in expectation for Drake to respond with fans calling him out on the platform; if he hadn’t, his reputation would be at stake. After a week of radio silence best online casino (other than a DM exchange with Hitman Holla on Instagram), Drake responded with “Charged Up”. But when tweets and articles alike gave a tepid response, Drake soon followed up with another track.

You probably know this one. It inspired many viral response tweets, memes and assorted content, essentially demolishing Twitter for weeks.



“Back to Back” was straight fire, but the Twitter community was just as responsible for swiftly ending the beef with Drake coolly walking away the victor.  In effect, the power of social media not only navigated how the beef played out, but also influenced the speed in responses even when it involved creating new music within days. We were all participants in this beef.

And ultimately, all parties involved benefitted as a direct consequence of social media, even the “losers” of the feuds. In general, all artists had the opportunity to increase brand awareness and reaffirm their public images, whether as outspoken strong women or hard-hitting rappers. Although his response track fell flat (to put it lightly), Meek Mill still received enormous free publicity and gained increased exposure with respect to his music from the feud.

And Taylor proved that you can spin negative attention to your advantage. When she tweeted her apology to Nicki, she not only appeared relatable (nothing like a celebrity eating some humble pie to forgive and forget), but also created buzz for the VMAs where she was to release her “Wildest Dreams” music video and Nicki was to perform.

Some may argue that the beefs have become less about the music since the creative energy of these artists has been redirected to Twitter burns instead of lyrical jabs. But in the end, there’s no denying that social media has completely changed the “feud” game in unique and interesting ways.
What was your favorite beef of 2015? Let us know in the comments!