The Only Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram for Rap Beefs You Will Ever Need

via Grantland

Before this starts, know this: We — we as in HUMANS — are on the cusp of a moment. A moment that, should it occur, should even a glancing version of it occur, will produce a reverb that will demolish the lithosphere into, oh, I don’t know, about 10 billion pieces, if I had to guess.

Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Aubrey “Drake” Graham, the two most visible rappers on planet Earth, have almost inexplicably and without (at least publicly knowable) reason ended up on the precipice of an interstellar rap battle.

Drake, horns-of-fire eyebrows and all, called Jay-Z’s art-reference rap “corny” in an interview. Jay-Z, especially offended and surprisingly charged by the accusation, swooped down from the ionosphere on the back of his sun dragon and, eager to smite, fired exploding chain saws at Drake in a verse on a song called “We Made It.” Here they are:

Sorry Mrs. Drizzy for so much art talk
Silly me rappin’ ’bout shit that I really bought

And so now the world waits.

Waits for Drake’s response.

Waits for Jay’s response to Drake’s response.

Waits for Drake’s response to Jay’s response to Drake’s response.

We wait and wait and wait.

We’re still waiting.

Because we are on the cusp of a moment.


Every year for the last decade during the days between November 11 and December 20, I have attempted to teach middle school ESL students about all of the whole of the everything of the entirety of outer space, from its birth to its (hypothetical) end. This, as one would expect, is a bit of a task.

Sometimes it’s for reasons you expect (because that shit is hard, bro). But sometimes it’s for reasons you do not. The best: One particularly enjoyable student asserted that, given that our understanding of the cosmos beyond Mars is almost entirely theoretical, it was irresponsible of me to completely disregard the plot of Killer Klowns From Outer Space, a movie on Netflix about aliens who look like Earth clowns and wrap people up in cotton candy and then suck their blood. “If nobody knows what’s out there, how can you say with certainty that there isn’t a planet dense with a population of clowns that want to murder me?” is a polished version of her position. “Well … it’s just … I mean … I don’t know, man” was my exact rebuttal. (I watched Killer Klowns From Outer Space. It’s terribly creepy. Don’t watch it.)

Still, during that segment of the curriculum, the one thing we go over that every kid learns is something called the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. Here is the exact one I have for them in class:


A general explanation: The H-R diagram plots stars based on brightness vs. heat. There are four main groups: the supergiants, which are the biggest and, on average, the brightest stars; the giants, which are a little smaller though still impressive; the main sequence stars, which are regular, ordinary-size stars; and the white dwarfs, which are just remnants of stars and not real actual stars anymore.

Now, in class this particular discussion would be followed by an activity in which the students are given characteristics of stars found in the known universe and then asked to place them where they belong on the chart. But since this is not class — this is Grantland — I present a variation.

It’s the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram for Rap Beefs:


It’s the same as the normal one, except it’s different.

Instead of the brightness on the y-axis, we measure how interesting each rap beef is. And instead of the temperature/color on the x-axis, we measure how real-life dangerous each rap beef is.

Important: The beefs listed here are not all the beefs that have ever existed in rap, same as the H-R diagram doesn’t plot all the stars that have ever existed. The charts are used as reference, a guide for you to refer to when considering the parameters of, say, 2007’s Gillie Da Kid vs. Lil Wayne debacle and how it measures next to, say, 1992’s P.M. Dawn vs. KRS-One shenanigans.

The numbers scattered in the H-RDFRB correspond with the faces underneath it, and the faces represent the winning side of whichever beef it was that he or she was involved in. Explanations:

1. Drake vs. His Feelings: Top tier. Probably the most interesting rap battle of our generation, which, depending on how you process the world, is something you will consider very advanced or very disappointing.

2. Lil’ Kim vs. Foxy Brown: Lil’ Kim wins this one because I actually had to Google “is Foxy Brown alive” while researching this. (She’s alive, FYI.)

3. Kanye West vs. 50 Cent: The two released albums the same week in 2007 and so they were arguing over who was going to sell more. 50 was like, “If Kanye outsells me, I’ll retire.” Kanye outsold him by more than 200,000 units. 50 was like, “LOL I’m just kidding I’m not retiring.”

4. Nas vs. Jay-Z: (1) Yes. Jay-Z won. Shut up. (2) I will never not use the hyphen in “Jay-Z.” His mama named him “Jay-Z,” I’mma call him “Jay-Z.”

5. Ice Cube vs. N.W.A: They argued over money. Ice Cube recorded “No Vaseline.”

6. Eminem vs. Benzino (and The Source): This one almost certainly would’ve fallen into the the supergiants category in 2002. But Eminem the brand has swelled to such an alarming size that his moves are barely even interesting anymore and Benzino is Benzino, so this one plummets down into the cellar.

7. Nelly vs. Chingy: Mostly because I just wanted you to have a good baseline for what a very, very, very bottom-level white-dwarf rap beef looks like. (Note: In 2004, this beef was definitely a main priority for me. I’m saying, do you even know how many times I watched the “Batter Up” video, bro?)

8. This is when Ludacris went at it with T.I.: Ludacris won that one. This is not when Ludacris went at Drake and Big Sean. Nobody won that one. Not one single person.

9. Nicki Minaj vs. Gucci Mane: This one rates this high on interest because Gucci was on Twitter telling everyone he had sex with Nicki Minaj and that he had proof of it and for just a few moments somehow it kind of seemed like he was telling the truth. Know this: If Gucci Mane ever in any capacity proves that you had sex with him, he wins. That’s the most vicious blow. One time, one of my sons uppercut his twin brother in the wiener. This would’ve been worse than that. If he would’ve actually somehow produced a video or even a picture of him and Nicki Minaj engaging in intercourse, we would’ve had to put her in a rocket ship and shoot her toward a corner of outer space.

10. 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule: What many consider to be the greatest takedown of the modern era. It was definitely in the supergiants category while it was happening, but it falls out here because 50 is probably, like, only the 40th most popular rapper right now.

11. Papoose vs. hahaha psych just kidding Papoose never won anything LOL.

12. Gucci Mane vs. Face Tattoos: To crib a line from a 2004 Demetri Martin comedy special: This is a good example of how you can be a winner and a loser at the same time.

13. Common vs. Drake: “You a bitch because you cling like a bitch that’s 18 / Can’t say my name but rap about a n—-’s wife / You so black and white, trying to live a n—-’s life / I’m taking too long with this amateur guy / You ain’t wet nobody, n—-, you Canada Dry.” —Common

14. Kendrick Lamar vs. All the Guys He Mentioned on “Control,” But Mostly Drake Because Drake Was the Only One With a Higher Perch: Oh, man. Rap nerds had hella boners when this song came out.

15. Tupac vs. Biggie: Dang.



Five New(ish) Beefs That Belong on the Diagram


Snoop Dogg vs. Bob Marley’s Ghost (supergiant):
Snoop’s gotta stop. Someone please tell him.

Lil Wayne vs. Metaphors (main sequence): If Tha Carter IV has fewer than 200 of those stupid “I got presidential concentration / Call that a Ford Focus”–style lines, then that’s a win for Wayne.

J. Cole vs. J. Cole’s Face (white dwarf): He’s losing.

Nas vs. Evolution (giant): Has any rapper ever gripped more desperately to a time period, to what he or she at one point represented, than Nas? Nas is a total bore now. His fight against evolution is history’s longest war.

Wale vs. Everybody on Earth, I Guess (white dwarf): I just don’t get it. Wale seems like a decent (albeit tightly wound) person. Why does everyone hate him? I interviewed him at a concert once. He was nice. T-Pain was there. I talked to him, too. T-Pain is way more of a dick than Wale.

-Shea Serrano

Shea is a writer based in Houston. He has written for MTV, XXL, Vice, Complex, Myspace, and other outlets. He recently published his first book, Bun B’s Rap Coloring and Activity Book.

Biggie Beats

It’s always around this time of year that we hear from Notorious B.I.G posthumously as March 9 marks the anniversary of his death and producers and DJs pay homage to the man with remixes and tribute mixes aplenty.

This year is no exception with a couple of choice tributes doing the rounds, on this, the 17th anniversary of his passing.

First up is the Picasso Biggie remix by !llmind which takes Jay Z’s Picasso Baby beat and pitch shifts it down then adds Biggie’s Sky’s The Limit raps as well as Hova’s verse from Success and flips it all into an absolute jam that sounds like it was meant to be together all along.  !llmind then (and this is probably our fave part) teamed up with artist Naturel to create some killer Picasso inspired Biggie artwork. Look and listen below.

Next up, mixtape master J. PERIOD delivers the final installment in the #MARCH9REVISITED trilogy.

J.PERIOD revisits the catalog of Brooklyn’s Finest to re-imagine classic B.I.G. verses over a diverse collection of tracks that speculate on what hip hop might be like if The Notorious was still around… The result is a non-stop collection of remixes over new and classic instrumentals from Nas, Jay Z, Fabolous, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, Meek Mill, 2Chainz, Cam’ron, Busta Rhymes and more. Also includes J.PERIOD’s signature interview clips and personal insights from Puffy, Jay, Snoop, and B.I.G himself.

Life after death indeed.

Midnight At The Oasis

Are you looking for something to do this New Year’s Eve in Sydney but struggling to find the right party?

There, in the distance. Is it a mirage?…

In the desert of F*%kwits there exists only one Oasis.

Midnight At The Oasis NYE 2013!

Just like any great house party the DJs at Midnight at the Oasis attempt to provide that perfect soundtrack to set the mood for celebrating, pashing or to just plain falling down drunk to.

Carefully crafting that delicate balance of indie, hip hop, one hit wonders and 90s jams. We asked the promoters to give us a list of 5 tracks we will hear on the night and 5 that we definitely won’t, here’s the breakdown - 

Songs you will definitely hear

Scribe - Not Many Remix
Dave Dobbyn - Slice of Heaven
DMX - Party up (Up in Here) 
Phoenix - Lisztomania 
Beach Boys - Kokomo

Special mentions to En Vogue, The Strokes, Mark Morrison, Vampire Weekend, Jay Z, Sean Paul, Warren G, Paul Simon, Skee Lo and the Golden Girls.

Songs you will NEVER hear

Bette Midler - Wind Beneath My Wings
Semisonic - Closing Time 
Jack Johnson - Taylor 
Chumbawamba - Tubthumping
Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling

Sounds like our kind of party… tickets are available now from moshtix, see you on the dance floor in your best party shirt for the shindig of the year! If you don’t believe us heed the wise words of their foreign affairs department -

From Jay To Z

California Dreamin’

So I had a pretty amazing dream on Sunday July 28 2013 … it involved a 13 hour flight to LA, a fancy Hollywood hotel, amazing pre-drinks and a ride in a limo that dropped us at some random stadium those crazy Californian’s affectionately call the Rose Bowl in Pasadena … Oh it also included some dudes named Justin Timberlake & Jay Z … plus 60,000 excitable music fans.

This dream was the ‘Legends of The Summer Tour 2013’

After sitting in notoriously bad LA traffic for almost 2 hours things only had to get better for it to be a dream not a nightmare! With roadies in hand we sprinted towards the MASSIVE Rose Bowl Stadium, which normally houses Gridiron matches and U2 concerts but on this particular night some crazy Australians were in Pasadena for two reasons and two reasons only … the smokin’ multi-talented JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE and rap superstar legend JAY Z.

After the traumatic collection of the tickets it crossed our mind on our first inspection “section A3 row 12 sounds pretty alright” but we had more important things to dream about … like getting inside and not missing a millisecond of this show! With our golden tickets in hand we made our way into the ROSE ‘UNKNOWN’ BOWL

In the dream state the unknown became closer…

and closer …

and closer …

Running through thousands of ecstatic bud light drinking Californians towards probably the biggest and Grade A stage I’ve ever imagined in my life we took our seats merely METRES away from two music legends!

Kicking off a ridiculously mental 3 hour set with ‘HOLY GRAIL’ and seeing JT and Jay Z’s actual facial expressions NOT via a screen it all suddenly hit … I had to pinch myself …. this Ain’t a dream … this is for REALZ and it is f*cking amazing!!!

JT and Jay Z shared an enormous stage enormous tracks and an enormous band … imagine going from JT on the electric guitar with Jay Z rapping ’99 Problems’ to JT groovin away to Senorita and having the ladies swwwwoooooning to a Jackson Five Cover of ‘I Want You Back’ a special appearance by JT’s right hand man Timberland for ‘Sexy Back’, ‘Empire State of Mind’ featuring JT’s crooner-like intro and outro of Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York New York’. Ending the set with ‘Suit and Tie’ both decked out in suits and ties of course and each clutching a glass of bubbles each (surely Cristal … it’s Jay Z we’re talking about here) these new pals had the Rose Bowl and 60,000 music fans in the palm of their hands. so many collabs and individual sections that JT and Jay Z owned respectively there is nothing to fault about this set list or the way the show flowed … pure perfection … these guys are 100% pro’s.

I could have stayed there all night … no such thing as getting tired in dreams!

There are not many shows that have you on such a high for days afterwards.

Whoever gave this tour it’s title ‘LEGENDS OF THE SUMMER’ hit the nail on the head in more ways than one – there are not many shows where you actually feel truly privileged to have seen it with your own eyes. These two in action together and the musical comradery was a once in a lifetime experience that I can say ‘yeah I was there’ not ‘yeah I wish I was there … as cliché as it sounds … dreams do come true and this dream that became a reality was pretty damn unbelievable.

Still pinching myself …If only I could be taken back to that night…

Oh well… for the time being I guess i’ll just relive it by watching this a million times over… *swoon*

-Erin M


Wiki93 is the first thing I’ve heard in the last decade or so that stamps itself firmly side by side with hip-hop’s legends of the late 80’s, early 90’s. If Mos Def/Beastie Boys/ODB happens to harmonise in a bar the familiar tune of ‘they just don’t make them like this anymore’ seems to commence. Well RATKING are my overwhelming rejection of that notion. Signed to Hot Charity/XL Recordings, many would say they’re punching but the indie kings have once again picked up a cracker.

Contradictions-are-us. Whilst this post hip-hop four-piece feeds a sweet dose of nostalgia, the undeniable efforts to pump that sound with some popping 21st century beats is clear. But as we know, old school is cool and the back-to-analogue trend is ever present in these guys production. Taking sounds from all different sides to the spectrum, they experiment with Of Montreal style synth, jumpy Suicide mannered beats and Jedi Mind Tricks type grooves.

Without knowing sweet f’ all about RATKING it wouldn’t take a genius to work out where they hang. Patrick ‘Wiki’ Morales takes the mic in this record hence the entitlement. He’s 19, from Manhattan and a self-confessed ‘upper-middle-class’ kid. He raps about what he knows ergo the content is teeming with NYC references. He talks about New York and it’s rap romance, from Jay-Z to Wu-Tang Clan and it’s raw. So god damn raw. The slightly pinched, slightly nasal tone to his vocals help render the classic feel of it all; paramount in standing out from the bunch.

I won’t spoil it for you, as I’m sure everyone will have an entirely different outlook but as far as drawing your attention to this fresh, raw, Harlem stinking band goes, I vote that you check it out. I get the feeling this is going to be one that you want to jump on early doors. Before the sheep arrive.

-Stan R

Dream Lineups

Andre Saraiva’s Dream Concerts on the corner of La Brea and Willoughby, Los Angeles, CA

Portugal. The Man & Friends

Portugal. The Man’s music has always had hip hop sensibilities and their latest album Evil Friends was no exception, in fact with Danger Mouse on the boards it was probably the furthest they’ve ventured into that world.

DJ Terry Urban obviously saw the potential and has whipped up a super super dope EP where he teams PTM jams with some of his and everyone else’s favourite rappers. Jay Z. Check. Kanye. Check. Biggie. Check.

Cop it below and head over to the Soundcloud for the generous free download.

Rappers & Cereal

Rappers & Cereal - Serious Business.

August MIX TAPE: Theophilus London

Theophilus London dropped in and spun his top 10! Enjoy.

“Why Even Try” by Theophilus London, RAC remix

"Hot Raw Sex
” by Jimmy Edgar ft. Theophilus London

Niggas In Paris” by Kanye West + Jay Z 

Rolling In The Deep” by Adele, Jamie XX remix

Sutphin Boulevard” by Blood Orange 

Cop Killer” by John Maus 

Suck My Dick Hoe” by Lil’ B  

Play Myself Some Music” by R. Stevie Moore

Beth/Rest” by Bon Iver

Bling Bling” by B.G.