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The origin stories for most rap beefs are usually pretty obvious: label politics, an attempt to gain fame off of someone else's name, girl problems, physical confrontations carrying over into song, swagger jacking and absentee fatherhood, all valid reasons to drop 16+ bars of rhyming hatred toward another emcee over a fire beat you've been saving up for just such an occasion.

Occasionally, though, there are rap beefs that come out of left field and never really get explained. One that has held my interest for quite some time has been the dustup between The Fugees and Jeru the Damaja. It was a confusing one, because the Fugees and Jeru were, ostensibly, on the same side of hip hop's culture war of the mid 90's when "true school" lyricists were lashing out at the growing success of rappers focused on the excess of materialism. There was no buildup to the Fugees (and specifically Pras) calling out Jeru as a "biting Zealot" and a "false prophet" on Zealots:

Jeru then responded with his opening verse on Black Cowboys:

And that was, more or less, the end of the beef. As for what sparked it, the one response I've ever been able to find from Jeru himself on the subject was this interview with Breaking Wreckords Radio where he only goes so far as to say that the beef wasn't over the song Da Bichez without following up with an explanation of what was the cause. The Fugees, for their part, seemed to have been too busy with their budding global stardom to take time out to speak on the matter.

But I think that video at the top of this post gives at least a small clue into the origin of the dispute. The clip, which I believe is from Crazy Sam's Nervous Thursdays on Video Music Box, features Jeru and Lauryn Hill debating the level of responsibility white people have for black oppression (more or less, the discussion isn't focused quite tightly enough to summarize it in just a few words). This is, from what I've been able to find after 20 years of half-assed research, the first time Jeru and Lauryn had ever met each other. This is pure speculation on my part, but it's not too hard to imagine Lauryn walking away from the discussion with some level of frustration in being outshouted by Jeru and that frustration festering long enough to lead to the diss on Zealots.

It is entirely possible the two events are unrelated. If that's the case, if nothing else we can all hopefully appreciate the moment in time of Jeru and Lauryn Hill debating the topic of race with a young Irv Gotti and Method Man eagerly listening in the background.
10/24/2018 7:29:15 AM posted by Fresh