For once, Eminem can breathe easy when he hears that people are rallying to have a rapper’s album banned.
The usually lovable Nelly – who is dropping Nellyville on June 25 – has made an enemy of KRS-One, and the Blastmaster is calling for a boycott of the rapper’s album.
“Nelly challenged a sovereign power,” KRS said Wednesday of his latest vocal adversary. “The MC part of it, I can slap him around for days. I got joints for days!”
The microphone legend is certainly not inhibited, especially when talking of his iconic battle-rhyme dexterity. On “Ova Here,” the incendiary first joint from KRS’ September release, Kristyle, the MC calls out the St. Louis representer’s name, tells him his style “sounds like ‘NSYNC commercial,” and calls for fans of “real hip-hop” to go boo Nelly at shows and shun his album.
“The boycott, that’s the will of God,” the Bronx native explained. “I said, ‘Yo, we should boycott Universal Records and Nelly to send a message to the recording corporations of the United States that says there are people in hip-hop culture who, if they say this is wack, you lose sales. We need to take that stance and let these corporations know hip-hop is a viable culture.
“You can’t jerk us, give us contracts that don’t make no sense, then turn around and give contracts to artists that dis their communities,” he added. “Tell Universal to tell their artist the rules before he goes around yapping, trying to dis those that have paved the way for him to be there.”
The battle – which pits hall-of-famer against current superstar, youth against experience and sexy party anthems against conscious commentary – apparently happened over a misunderstanding and misleading hype.
“I was basically answering a lot of cats that say, ‘KRS is always talking about real hip-hop and fake hip-hop,’ ” he explained of his lyrics on the underground track “Clear ‘Em Out,” which appears on the compilation The Difference. ” ‘Who is he to say what’s real and fake hip-hop? He needs to come with a hit record.’ I wrote my lyrics to combat that. So the record ‘#1’ comes out and [Nelly] says, ‘I’m tired of rappers talking what’s real hip-hop and them be the n—s that their album flopped.’ ”
KRS, who doesn’t realistically think his proposed ban will greatly affect Nelly’s sales, said people mistook his lyrics, “You tired of me saying what’s real hip-hop/ Well I’m tired of you biting my sh- to go pop,” and “Sales don’t make you the authority/ It only means you sold out to the white majority,” as a poke at Nelly since it was released after “#1.” However, he penned his words way before he even heard about Nelly’s track. Fueling the fire was a press release from Official Jointz, the company distributing The Difference, put out with a confirmation that the former leader of Boogie Down Productions was coming at Nelly.
“I have 16 years of history in hip-hop,” KRS said. “When I dis somebody, I say the [rapper’s] name, the name of the crew and possibly the label and we go all at it. Every battle rhyme I put out, that was my basic stance. [Official Jointz] was hyping it to sell more records. I kept downplaying it.”
KRS went so far as to explain the situation to Nelly’s camp and circulate an e-mail letter saying he didn’t want any beef with Nelly and had no ill feelings toward the multiplatinum rapper.
Either Nelly didn’t get the message or didn’t believe KRS’ sincerity, because he recently struck back with a scathing collection of words aimed at the Blastmaster on the remix to “Roc the Mic”.
“When I heard the ‘Roc the Mic’ remix, I said ‘You know what, let me get this cat,’ ” KRS remembered. “It was the whole street thing. If somebody slapped you in your face the whole block is gonna start slapping you, trying to punk you on the block. He came out with a record and tried to punk me on the block.”
“Nelly is humble as hell, it would be something to just tick my man off,” said St. Lunatics member Murphy Lee, who also rhymes on the “Roc the Mic” remix. “It was like KRS-One said something first. It was never Nelly come out and just [dis him]. The man is just tired. He had to defend himself. He’s like, ‘My career probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for KRS-One,’ that’s what Nelly is on. My man got tired of critics and made a song ‘#1.’ He wasn’t specifically talking about nobody, but if the shoe fits, wear it.”
KRS said he’s not averse to ending his call for fans to boycott Nelly. All the Band-Aid-wearing rapper has to do, KRS-One said, is adhere to the rules stated in the Temple of Hip-Hop’s Declaration of Peace. The organization KRS founded follows 18 guidelines, which it calls “Overstandings.” Among them are calls to denounce prejudice, encourage the remembrances of ancestors and appreciate the hip-hop culture.
“Best thing he can do is accept the Hip-Hop Declaration of Peace and I will lift my ban,” he promised. “Yes, errors were made. But this is how we squash our differences.”