Long before Doc Atkins convinced us to 86 whitey and the boys from the pyramid, beef was a rap staple. Feuds between rival MCs like LL Cool J and Kool Moe Dee, KRS-One and MC Shan have clogged many an artery: Pac taunting Biggie about knocking boots with Big Poppa's missus, Faith; Jay-Z and Nas's volleys on Blueprint and Stillmatic; Slim Shady's unreleased dis of Everlast; and, most recently, the squabble between 50 Cent and Ja Rule that Minister Farrakhan mediated.
Back in Mootown, though, it's been all bro-hugs and kisses -- until now. Last week, Apostle (aka Jeff Campbell) publicly blasted Kingdom (aka Jeffrey McWhorter), calling him out with a let's-meet-at-the-flagpole post on www.freshsites.com, a site dedicated to the local underground hip-hop scene.
"I've had enough of this shit," Apostle wrote. "I'm ready to battle Kingdom once and for all! Bring it on Fat Boy. I will get in that ass."
Fat boy? Damn. Speaking as a charter member of the husky boys' big-boned club, them's fighting words.
"I am not going to sit by and let this Nugget Mascot claim these streets," Apostle's screed continued. "The streets belong to the underground, Don Blas, check your boy, for real."
So, in the immortal words of the late Clara Peller, everyone's favorite blue-haired mouthpiece from the '80s: Where's the beef?
"We were at the Blue Mule," Apostle explains. "That's the underground little hub, you know, where the scene and the culture is really being authentically cultivated -- and you got this false, inauthentic, bling-bling wannabe, mainstream ass-kissing, privileged cat on this plateau coming down and basically calling out everybody in the place. He said, 'All you MCs are faggots with limp wrists. I drive a Lexus. I wear a Rolex, and can't none of you touch me. I've been in this game for twelve years.' I mean, he was flowing freestyle. He's a battle MC; he's tight. I'm not gonna front on his talent. He could probably beat me in the battle, because I'm not a battle MC. I like to say messages in my rhymes. But in terms of the culture of hip-hop and the community that we have here, his whole attitude is damaging."
My man Kingdom, on the other hand, says Apostle is the one who has issues. "Everybody brags; that's hip-hop," he contends. "You know I've been doing that for years. But when I did it, it wasn't directed towards anybody, you know what I'm saying? Apostle took offense to it basically out of jealousy. I've won the Westword [music awards] four years in a row as best hip-hop artist. He's been on the ballot; he's never won. I work for the Denver Nuggets; I work for KS-107.5. He's jealous of those things, because he's not in that position.
"I mean, I'm still a striving artist like he is, so I don't see why he should be jealous of me. He was one of the only MCs out here that I had respect for when he was rhyming. There were a lot of other rappers in there, and the only person who got offended that night was Apostle. Why he didn't get offended by anybody else -- pure jealousy. He said I talked about Rolexes and I talked about diamonds. I talked about those things because I have them, so there's nothing wrong with that."
"I'm not doing this for me or for some ego-driven thing," Apostle responds. "This is for respect. And this is respect of the underground, the culture and hip-hop, you know what I'm saying? You want to come in here and dis the whole underground and say you the top cat in this game and that no one can touch you in the state. Come get some. I look at the dynamics of the scene in our city in a holistic sense. And what I see is this is mainstream versus underground. I see this as bling-bling versus grassroots. I see this as David versus Goliath. I see this as the corporate, elitist model of the rapper versus the underground MC."
"Respect. What respect? I've been respecting this dude since day one," Kingdom counters. "Just because he feels that he's not getting respect -- that's something he has to work on, not me. I'm not jealous of anybody's accomplishments. I congratulate everybody in Colorado on what they do, and I hope that they further their careers. Apostle's just mad because he's not on the radio. And I've even invited him on there and bigged up his organization. So who's looking like the fool? Not me. I'm just a man trying to feed my kids.
"And I am underground," he adds. "I started off in 1990, rappin' in front of five, ten people. That's why I was on stage rippin' freestyle that night. He's making it seem like it's underground versus overground -- that's bull. He's thinking he's rallying all these people. But everybody is really like, 'This fool is that jealous.' That's what everybody is saying. And the thing is, he's hugging me, welcoming me into his world, but it seems that all these years, he's been jealous of me. Now if that's not a two-faced person, I don't know what is."
Francois Baptiste of 3Deep Productions and House of Blues, who will reportedly wrangle this beef at next month's DMC and MC battle in Boulder (although Apostle says it will probably take place at the Snake Pit at around the same time), thinks the rivalry was inevitable. In fact, he's surprised it took this long to surface.
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"I think there's been people in this game for a really long time," offers Baptiste. "And the hip-hop scene as a whole is growing, growing, growing. And I just think, sometimes you have people who bump heads. It's dumb, in a way, but yet it's good, because these older people who have been around doing a lot of shows are going to show people the correct way to handle it. So I think it's a positive thing at the end of the day."
Kingdom thinks otherwise.
"I'm just saying, nobody don't give a damn about Apostle," he says. "Nobody don't give a damn about Kingdom, man. It's the truth. Everybody's just worried about themselves."
Maybe. But Mootown's been starving for a showdown like this for years. And come mid-April, wherever it goes down, you can bet this fat boy will be there -- drooling, with fork in hand.