Monday, June 23, 2008

The New School vs. The Old School

For those of you not up on the latest hip-hop feud, I recently read on Kanye West's blog (and was reminded today on Chet's) about the beef between Ice T and Soulja Boy.

Rather than embed each of the now 4 videos central to this rivalry, I'll just link to them and describe the history as best I can to get you up to speed.
1st: Ice T disses Soulja Boy on DJ Cisco's UrbanLegends Mix Tape it gets posted on YouTube by RealTalkNY.net
2nd: Soulja Boy comes back at Ice T through a webcam and posts it on his site iSouljaBoy.net and YouTube
3rd: Ice T responds to Soulja Boy through a video taken in his home by RealTalkNY.net which then gets posted to YouTube
4th: Soulja Boy makes this animated video as a response to Ice T

Whether you agree with T that SB single-handedly killed hip-H-O-P is not important to me. (Rhyming, as always, is!) I'm more interested in how it highlights the digital divide. That is, this conflict seems to really capture the new school vs. the old school mentality not only towards hip-hop but also towards the new digital mindset. This is more than merely the comfort with using Web 2.0 technologies such as YouTube (or as Ice T calls it, "the YouTubes" and such); it is the way that the collaborative nature of the Internet changes our way of thinking and acting.

Sure, Soulja Boy gets in a few jabs on Ice T like calling him older than the Internet (I don't even want to know what he thinks of John McCain's age). Sure, he calls out Ice T based on the things he finds out about T from Wikipedia. Sure, he looks straight into his webcam to make the video and does so with friends around. But more importantly, the Web helps him see the world as a place where we can all win. He doesn't see the hip hop game as a zero sum game. In fact, we probably have a better chance if we collaborate with others. We actually have an even better chance if we involve our audience, our fans. He redefines the competitive set. He believes in the power of coopetition.

As a Gen GuY and GalYs on the edge of X and Y (see sidebar with links), I feel we are in a unique position to empathize with both sides. We have an ability to understand Ice T's gripes and Soulja Boy's retort quite naturally. We feel disappointed by Soulja Boy's lack of respect and lack of command over the English language as well as by Ice T's lack of appropriate language and lack of constructive feedback (mentorship or solution). Most of all, though, we want to bridge the digital gap through better, more constructive and instructive communication. On- and off-line.

We're down for whatever. Holla!

4 comments:

noah brier said...

ha. this is awesome. good thinking dude.

Matt said...

I think I missed something.
Is .net the new .com?

How is it that all websites involved with this "feud" (outside of youtube) are .net(s)???

Soulja Boy couldn't get souljaboy.com/.net or even isouljaboy.com? Seriously?

At least Ice-T owns icet.com

By virtue of domain ownership Ice-T wins.

I wonder if "souljaboydotcomfail.com" is taken?

El Gaffney said...

thanks noah.
matt, i'm not sure about that domain choice either. but on that .net site which uses ning as a platform he has a community of 17,000 vs. 0 on Ice T's site. (T's "blog attack has 1 post - it's about this feud - and it asks peeps to "speak on it" but has no place to comment). SB also posted the video on YouTube - his channel has over 5.7 million views and almost 100,000 subscribers (top 25). Ice T's community? not sure where to find it. apparently SB's main site is souljaboytellem.com (the name of his first album - and google's first result on a soulja boy search).

okay, i'm going to get a life now.

mikekarnj said...

It's like a fight between the two worst rappers of all time. Who really cares? They are both wack.