Yawn. I awoke from headaches and nausea to hop on Twitter and get bombarded with the latest gossip in the world of R&B: Drake and Chris Brown reportedly went at it in a nightclub over a broad (Rihanna). I won’t get into details, but I will say this: All signs of this “beef” point to the fact that R&B is dead and stinking. Hip-hop is not really dead. R&B is definitely dead. Why? It has to do with hairstyles, kid. Let’s look at some real R&B “beefs” from years past and compare how they were handled with this 2012 game of hide and go seek in the club.
James Brown vs. Joe Tex (1963)
Considering the profiles of the two uber-stars, this beef remains vastly under the radar. As legend goes, Tex (who once wrote songs for JB) felt the Godfather of Soul was copying some of his moves. There were problems; Brown stole Tex’s woman; Tex responded with a song called “You Keep Her” and mocked Brown’s “cape” routine at shows; Brown showed up to a Tex show with a loaded pistol and let off a couple rounds to teach ‘em a lesson. Innocent bystanders who were grazed by stray bullets were paid in $100 bills as hush money. Brown had a Pompadour hairstyle at the time of the incident.
Jackie Wilson vs. Girlfriend (1961)
Wilson, a tried and true R&B infidel, was shot by girlfriend, Juanita Jones, who caught him doing some hardcore mackin’ on the side. He continued to perform with the bullet lodged next to his spine like nothing ever happened. And he kept right on layin’ that pipe with not a care in the world. Wilson had a conk at the time of the incident and while he was mackin’ his hardest.
Big Red vs. Bird and Jimmy (1968)
The odious manager of the soul group The Five Heartbeats (in the movie of the same name), Big Red proved that Drake and Chris Brown’s faux beef cannot be attributed to complexion. Light-skinnded brothers definitely have an R&B history of bein’ hard to the gristle – Big Red whooped the shit out of one of his artists (“Bird”) over a perceived lack of respect when badgered about bookkeeping. Big Red hung Bird over a balcony and nearly made him live up to his name, then ordered the vehicular homicide of The Five Heartbeats’ erstwhile manager, Jimmy, a few scenes later. Big Red had a perm throughout the entire movie, although it almost became a natural in that one scene due to the sweat he worked up whoopin Bird’s ass.
Michael Jackson vs. Paul McCartney (1982)
For a non-violent twist on R&B-related disagreements, look no further than the competition between Jackson and McCartney on MJ’s hit “The Girl is Mine.” They crooned and serenaded the invisible broad for 3:42. MJ laments, “I’m a lover, not a fighter,” contradicting the long-running fact that despite their romeo ways, R&B singers were always the biggest hoodlums in the entertainment business. But at least these two didn’t make it race-related when it could’ve easily gone that way (What ethnicity was the girl?) and they vied for the girl’s attention like gentlemen. Drake and Chris Brown could’ve done a duet in the studio for the love of that raggedy broad, but no. These two jamokes felt the need to be tough guys. If you’re gonna scrap over Rihanna, either scrap for real or do like gentlemen, fellas. Michael Jackson had a Jheri Curl at the time of the song’s recording.
Ike Turner vs. Tina Turner (A long ass time)
I won’t comment on this one, but Ike always wore a meticulously-kept conk or a natural during that time period. And Tina damn sure had a funky hairdo.
Other R&B stars that were truly rogue and rugged:
Bobby Brown (S-curl Gumby), Jodeci (Box fades and skully hats), D’Angelo (cornrows), and Aaron Hall (Jheri-curled fade and eventual bald head).
The moral of all this? A real R&B thug embraces chemicals. Drake and Chris Brown could never really be true R&B stars or have any real “beef” because they wear Ceasar haircuts. The former looks like he works in a bank and the latter looks like he works at a T-Mobile store. I refuse to take an R&B singer with a conservative, “Grown-n-Sexy” haircut seriously. These two assimilated Negroes aren’t creating any mayhem, but any man who can put lye on his scalp and live will definitely cut you from ear to ear. To all who wish to be R&B stars in the future and foreshadow beefing with a peer over a woman: Put some chemicals in your hair, cut it into a Gumby (like I did – and people no longer cut me in line at the supermarket), shave it completely bald, braid it, do something to show you’re in charge. Because the neat, simple, conservative Ceasar hairstyle screams safety, complacency, Corporate America, and the milquetoast path to assimilation – four things that have no place in soul music. It’s just gross.