Feuds: West vs. Cent

The rap beef — endless antagonism between the hip-hop stars of the day — is one of rap’s most delightfully enduring traditions. Hip-hop would be frightfully dull without East Coast vs. West Coast, Biggie vs. Tupac, Jay-Z vs. Nas, or Eminem vs. everyone else. To this illustrious heritage we can add a new entry: Kanye West vs. 50 Cent, who both released new albums last week.

Although modesty and hip-hop go together like Britney Spears and dignity, Fiddy made an unusually bold declaration at the start of the week: “If Kanye West sells more records than 50 Cent on September 11, I’ll no longer [perform] music. I’ll write music and work with my other artists but I won’t put out any more solo albums.”

That oblique put-down is hardly the worst bit of antagonism ever served up — I’ve heard more vicious “yo momma” jokes — but still, I have to ask: What have Mr. West and 50 (Mr. Cent?) ever done to each other? I don’t think Kanye is behind any of 50’s bullet wounds, nor was Fiddy the driving source of Hurricane Katrina, which prompted West to proclaim in front of a hilariously flustered Mike Myers that “George Bush hates black people.”

My theory? This is a purely fabricated “battle” between two of rap’s biggest — and whiniest — stars, all to attract attention and boost record sales, a ruse that is painfully obvious when you climb the corporate ladder and find that the same company, Universal Entertainment, has a stake in both artists. If this scheme works — and with a combined 750,000 record sales in one day, it looks like it did — we can expect to see other fabricated beefs dot the pop culture landscape in desperate attempts to extend those precious 15 minutes. Here are predicted beefs to watch out for in the coming months:

Two and a Half Men vs. The Office: The not-Charlie Sheen star of America’s worst and most popular comedy will start slinging arrows at NBC’s series The Office on his next talk show circuit to fend off falling ratings. “Where’s the star power? There’s a bunch of nobodies on The Office! We have the steady, beloved influence of Charlie Sheen and me, that other dude,” he’ll say from Oprah’s couch. “Who wants to watch a show about working in an office anyway? Nothing ever happens. Boring.”

Dan Brown vs. Stephen King: Looking to gather some attention in advance of his upcoming novel, Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, will post a cryptic message, “A BECK PITHINESS THING,” to his website. The market for adult contemporary crap lit will be forever shaken when the CIA, whose only notable skill these days is solving Dan Brown mysteries, discovers that the message is an anagram for “STEPHEN KING IS A BITCH.”

Dennis Kucinich vs. Democratic presidential candidates: Flush with confidence thanks to his inexplicably hot wife (also half his age), Kucinich will bring some much-needed zest to the pointless early debates by declaring, “Hillary Clinton hates black people!”

Apples, Oranges vs. clichéd comparisons: Tired of being typecast as clichéd foils, Apples and Oranges will announce a new merger of equals with a YouTube video: “Apples and Oranges are both sweet, tart, healthy, hand-picked fruits. When people say, ‘It’s like comparing apples to oranges,’ they’re comparing things that are, like, 99 percent similar. Why not compare apples to broccoli? Or oranges to Athena, daughter of Zeus? Get creative, people!”

Perez Hilton vs. Becky Johnston, an employee at a nearby Starbucks: When barista Becky Johnston accidentally forgets the raspberry drizzle on gossip hound Perez Hilton’s latte next week, Hilton will jump to attack not only the unsuspecting coffee-slinger, but also America’s most ubiquitous corporation. Expect a series of withering put-downs such as “More like StarSUCKS!!!” and “Becky=Poooo!” crudely appended to wire photography with MS Paint. Classy.

Roller Derby vs. Disney On Ice: This one explains itself: Who wouldn’t tune in to watch a girl on rollerblades going by the name “Punky Bruiser” tackle Sleeping Beauty? I’m patenting this one right now.