On Monday afternoon, without forewarning, J. Cole tweeted a mysterious flier that instructed hundreds of New Yorkers to flock to Gramercy Theater. The following day, a new flier, but this time Jermaine’s bat signal hung over London. He calls, they arrive.
While Dreamville's head honcho might not be as active as he once was on the micro-blogging platform, he has always directly engaged with his fans in a careful and calculated manner, announcing albums, advocating for blackballed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and introducing the world to Dreamville signees like J.I.D and EarthGang.
Over the past 11 years, Twitter has risen as a significant platform of influence within hip-hop. Some of rap’s biggest, most infamous moments have happened in under 140 characters.
The night of JAY-Z’s Songwriters Hall of Fame inauguration is memorable not for the award bestowed upon the Brooklyn-born legend, but for the stream-of-conscious shoutouts on Twitter that followed. Kendrick’s Pulitzer Prize win was news on Twitter before reaching the blogs, a reminder how quickly information travels in 2018. The brewing "beef" between the always outspoken Vince Staples and R. Kelly can be traced back to fellow DJBooth scribe Andy James, who shared Staples' hilariously scathing Coachella interview clip on his timeline and looked on as viral infamy ensued.
Twitter has become the medium for moments that will live on in hip-hop history, with rapper tweets shifting, shocking, and surprising the culture at a breakneck pace. Culturally relevant tweets aren't the only one that matter; an unforgettable rant is just as likely to become embedded in our memories forever.
Following a recent inspiring conversation with rising star JPEGMAFIA, we have gathered the 10 most infamous rapper tweets, breaking down why each is deserving of a place in hip-hop’s (unofficial) Twitter Hall of Fame.
Artist: Lil B
Date: May 25, 2011
Lil B’s curse of Kevin Durant is arguably the most bizarre, unorthodox, and amazing phenomenon to occur on Al Gore’s internet. It all started when KD tweeted how he couldn't believe Lil B was relevant after making an attempt to give his music a listen. This level of public disrespect infuriated the Based God.
The former member of The Pack wrote a diss, challenged Durant to a game of 1-on-1, sent a string of angry tweets, and set the proverbial curse. All of this would’ve blown over, except a string of misfortunes continued to fall upon the then-OKC superstar. After falling from grace in the 2012 NBA Finals, the curse went from a tweet to something more.
In 2014, Andrew Sharp, writing for the deceased Grantland (RIP), broke down KD’s beef with Lil B. In 2016, Kofie Yeboah wrote for ESPN’s The Undefeated that KD couldn’t escape #TheBasedGodCurse. These are serious writers writing serious articles about a rapper's curse causing an NBA superstar to suffer.
Lil B appeared on television, was covered by all publications, gave blessings instead of curses to other NBA teams―all without dropping an album, the Based God received the most press of his entire career. The curse reached a level of surrealism that could only be described as an episode of FX’s Atlanta. The cherry on top is Kevin Durant not winning his first championship ring until he left in free agency for the Golden State Warriors, after which Lil B lifted the curse. It was legendary, deserving of a placement in black history next to Tyrone Hankerson and Joanne the Scammer.
Artist: Frank Ocean
Date: June 17, 2011
Frank Ocean isn’t a rapper, and neither is Chris Brown, but their brief exchange of insults was the R&B edition of Kanye and Wiz (more on that later). In retrospect, this heated thumb war was likely a misunderstanding. Brown, in what he considers to be a gracious compliment, told Twitter how Frank Ocean reminds him of a young James Fauntleroy or Kevin Cossom. It wasn't really an insult, as James Fauntleroy is a masterful songwriter, and Kevin Cossom...did a song with Drake.
Ocean took the tweet as a backhanded compliment, and fired back with a clever retort worthy of a medal of disrespect: “I fucks with Chris Brown, he’s like a young Sisqo or Ike Turner.” The insult sent a chain reaction of gasps across the globe. Bringing Ike Turner up to Chris Brown is like throwing tiny gloves at OJ Simpson in public—the disrespect crosses all boundaries. I'm still uncertain if the rumored brawl between Chris and Frank ever took place, but it would make for an excellent episode of Celebrity Death Match if the show ever decides to return.
Social media squabbles tend to be a waste of the King's English, but a well-constructed insult that burns with the intensity of a solar flare will never be forgotten.
Artist: Gucci Mane
Dates: September 7 - September 9, 2013
The Gucci Mane of 2018 is nothing like the man who turned Twitter into a war zone seven years ago. Before being released from prison, changing his life, and turning his timeline into a site of motivation and positive reinforcement, Gucci went on a three-day Twitter rant that had the entire industry in confused awe.
Fueled by heavy drugs, unwavering paranoia, and a hunger for chaos, Gucci enacted his version of Kendrick’s “Control” verse with a sprinkle of Karrine Steffans’ tell-all energy. In a fog of madness, he disrespected Nicki Minaj, Blac Chyna, Tyga, Yo Gotti, T.I., Jeezy, Eminem, and a host of other notable names; he sent a big middle finger towards anyone and everyone. The vehement tweets and fictional (?) tales caused an uproar―fans watched, artists reacted, and press covered the three-day exchange like it was Coachella.
The rampage was the final eruption of a volcano that had spent years leaking lava. It’s no wonder Gucci was able to leave prison a changed man; he left three days worth of negativity on the timeline. The tweets have since been deleted, and the new Guwop is a far different man for the better, but the internet will never forget when a man is on the verge of combustion and tries to take the world down with him.
Artist: Jay Electronica
Date: March 8, 2012
“The wait ends,” Jay Electronica told Twitter.
On March 9, the following evening, he swore his long-awaited debut album would be turned in to his label, Roc Nation. There have been more rumors about Act II than alien conspiracies during Jay's decade in the spotlight, but this was one of the rare times where the belief was strong.
I trusted those words how I trusted JAY-Z's "Big Pimpin'" vow to never give his cold heart to a woman; how I trusted President Obama to bring the change he promised; how I trusted spinach giving me forearms like Popeye if ate enough.
I've written enough about my deep disappointment that we have yet to receive Electronica's debut. We will look back on this tweet, and the career of Jay Electronica, and know why a generation of hip-hop heads have trust issues.
Artist: Lil Wayne
Date: May 24, 2012
Lil Wayne’s Twitter functions as a promotional portal, a space for his sports musings, and an occasional reference to current events. In 2012, the only current event Wayne wanted to promote was his reaction to Pusha T’s “Exodus 23:1.” Pusha has denied the song was a diss, the classic verse is specific yet subliminal, but the saying about hit dogs seem to apply.
Wayne’s "fuck you and everyone who loves you" reaction didn’t receive a response from T, but Kid Cudi and his brother Malice both chimed in. “Exodus 23:1” would be relevant again two years later once Wayne expressed to Twitter how he was entrapped in Birdman’s label cage. Surprisingly, it was Pusha who tweeted an invite to join G.O.O.D. Music if he wanted to drop albums and have videos without the label CEO rubbing his hands in them. The beef between Pusha T and Wayne is strange, it was never the big deal that it could've been, but these tweets are a classic part of the second half of their careers.
Artist: Lil Wayne
Date: December 4, 2014
The perception of Lil Wayne’s adoptive father-son relationship with Birdman was destroyed on the 4th of December in 2014 when he publicly declared his desire to be let go from his contract with Cash Money, his label home since the genesis of his career.
We would come to discover Wayne’s disdain was deeper than an album delay when it was revealed he was owed 51 million dollars in unpaid royalties. He was the one who stayed when everyone left and still wasn’t immune to Cash Money’s pattern of thievery. Four years later, there's still no album, and even though Wayne and Birdman reconnected back in March, their possible reconciliation will never repair what Wayne’s tweet brought to life.
Artist: A$AP Yams
Date: January 17, 2015
A$AP Yams had thumbs of gold. To come across his Twitter or Tumblr is entering a playground of imaginative wisecracks. His humor was effortless, the kind of internet wit destined for virality. Social media was a better place because of him.
For all the times he made us laugh to tears, Yams’ most infamous tweet is the most tragic. With a well-known and open history of struggling with addiction, and the cause of his passing ruled an overdose, Yams’ final tweet being a play on codeine crazy is surreal as it is sad.
It’s been said that the funniest people are often the saddest, and I’m not saying that’s true for Yams, but before you can visit the catalog of genius tweets you must confront a demon he battled. Hip-hop will always remember Yams for how he lived, how he was clever as he was genius, and how he was taken from us too soon.
Artist: Meek Mill
Date: July 21, 2015
Hip-hop may never know the reason Drake decided not to promote Meek Mill’s Dreams Worth More Than Money album. If he did, then maybe in 2015, the 21st of July would’ve gone differently. But because he didn’t, Meek chose to oust Drake as a rapper who doesn't write his raps.
Meek didn’t just break the internet, he shattered the perception of Drake, exposed the only chink in his armor that could destroy his credibility, and started a beef that would affect the soaring rise of a career. He clipped his wings to expose a mortal posing as a god and even led to the spotlighting of the source of his recent magic.
Drake may have won the war, but Meek’s tweet changed the conversation surrounding him forever. For someone who is enamored by trophies, he’ll never be considered the greatest of all time, and that will haunt him much longer than the lyrics of “Back To Back” will haunt Meek Mill.
Meek's tweet was the resurfacing of a conversation around ghostwriters that became the fixation of rap fans. Cardi B can’t send a tweet about lyrics without her mentions being flooded with messages about not writing her own bars. Writers have existed in hip-hop, but unlike in other genres of music, they must remain a ghost, and that’s why exposure such a big impact on artists. It's not looked at as a collaborative effort, nor is there a question of what is written by the rapper and what's assisted; if a writer is involved, it's all or nothing.
The bigger conversation about writers and the collaborative process hasn’t been able to seriously take place because it's such a taboo topic in hip-hop. Meek’s tweet created a chain reaction that continues to affect the present.
I wonder if he could go back, would he do it again? Or would he call Drake, hash out their differences, and shoot the video for “R.I.C.O.” that the world deserved. We will never know.
Artist: Kanye West
Date: January 27, 2016
To describe the rollout of The Life of Pablo as madness would only scratch the surface of that period of social media insanity. All conventional methods of releasing an album were discarded, and Twitter was the medium used to break the walls of separation between Ye and fans.
There are no borders or barriers with Twitter—everyone is accessible, and eyes are always watching. It was surprising to see Wiz Khalifa react negatively when Kanye announced that Swish, the original title for The Life of Pablo, would be changed to Waves. In honor of Max B, a forefather of all things wavy, Wiz’s response was critical, but not controversial.
In what has to be considered one of the most unprecedented meltdowns in Twitter history, Kanye lost it. I know we thought he overreacted on Sway when his voice reached an operatic octave, but it wasn’t until his rampage against Wiz did the most acerbic Ye show his sourest side. The stream of tweets was a raging locomotive of disrespect. He attacked Wiz’s music, threw an entire palm tree of shade at Amber Rose, decided that Wiz wouldn’t have his son if it wasn’t for him, lambasted Khalifa for disturbing his creative process, and demanded respect simply for being his elder.
In the midst of the ugly insults, Kanye commends Wiz for having “cool pants.” He even admitted to wishing he was “tall and skinny” like Wiz but that he would settle for being the greatest artist ever as a consolation. Seemed like a fair exchange to me. This was childish slander, but also hilariously absurd.
Seeing how quickly Kanye’s mind could teeter from malicious disrespect to genuine recognition of cool is the unpredictable part of his brain that the world may never understand. He’s a complicated man, easily in the running for most complex minds to enter into hip-hop and ascend to the top of pop stardom. I wouldn’t call Ye a trainwreck, even though he has his days; I’ll say he’s more like a daredevil, and his every stunt, no matter how big or small, is hard to look away from.
Artist: Chance The Rapper
Date: July 13, 2017
The future of SoundCloud has felt uncertain for years. Every six months a new report details rising debt and anticipates their impending downfall similar to how the Mayan calendar was the source of predictions that the world would end in 2012. Much like Earth, SoundCloud has continued to survive after each doomsday declaration.
Last year, when the end appeared to be near, Chance The Savior swooped in and told Alexander Ljung, the founder of SoundCloud, to hold his beer. With just one tweet, the funeral for SoundCloud became a celebration. There were still a few pending questions, though: Could Chance save SoundCloud? How would it be done?
SoundCloud was a huge platform for independent artists and played a part in assisting his rise; I’m certain Soulja Boy would’ve saved Tom and MySpace if he could. Chance being the reason SoundCloud is still up and streaming is a pipe dream, but his allegiance and promise mean he will forever be tied to their success or slow submergence into the abyss.