Are Beefs Good For Business?

Kodi Vonn

A Ma-Minaj Case Study

Celebrities move in the public eye and not all of those moves are authentic. “For the cameras” relationships and fake fights are nothing new. So it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. After French Montana (and a lot of sources around the internet) claimed the Drake/Meek Mill beef was fake, it was harder for people to believe in the Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj feud. Especially after years of almost-collaborations and supportive words between the two. We’ll probably never know for sure whether these beefs are fake or simply overblown, but we can look at the numbers and evaluate whether artists are profiting from them.

Remy Ma vs Nick Minaj has been the music business’s biggest beef in 2017 (if you don’t count the actual Young Dolph/CMG beef that hasn’t had nearly the same news cycle life). This particular conflict is usually traced back to shady lines on Minaj’s 2007 track “Dirty Money” and Remy’s comments on them in early 2015. For nearly two years there was no fire in the feud, until late 2016 as both women started to release new projects.

By the end of 2016, Ma’s “All The Way Up” and Minaj’s “Side To Side” were certified platinum. Great for both rap queens.

Then a line on “Money Showers” with Fat Joe and Ty Dolls $ign seemed to be aimed at the Pinkprint rapper:

Bitch claiming she the queen, what? Not hardly

Who the fuck gave you your crown bitch? Steve Harvey?

That song peaked at #46 on Billboard’s hip-hop chart. The single trailed “All The Way Up” by nearly a year and didn’t perform as well (“All The Way Up” reached #9). Ma’s upcoming album, Plata O Plomo was due in only a couple months and would be Remy’s official re-entrance to the music industry. (Meanwhile, Nicki spent the rest of the year profiting from “Side To Side,” “Froze” with Meek Mill and Lil Uzi Vert, DJ Khaled’s star-packed “Do You Mind” and “Black Barbies” with Mike WiLL Made-It.)

In the same month that Plata O Plomo is released, Minaj’s “Bom Bidi Bom” with Nick Jonas is released on the 50 Shades Darker soundtrack. Plata doesn’t do as well as expected (with approximately 11,000 album-equivalent units sold in its first week the album is never RIAA certified). It reaches #44 on the Billboard Hot 200. Shortly after, Nicki decides to finally fire back on Jason Derulo’s “Swalla” and Gucci Mane’s “Make Love” with vague referential insults. Both songs are released on the same day but have no specific name-calling.

Not even two days later, Remy drops the diss track “ShETHER.”

The internet explodes. Rap fans froth at the mouth for the incipient rap beef. Coincidentally (or not), the song is released right before the season final of Remy’s show Love & Hip Hop. In response, Minaj posts a screenshot of Plata’s first week album sales on Instagram (she later deletes it). In its place, she then posts a cosign for her queendom by pop Queen Bey.

😘 she said *bey 🎀 *bigger

A post shared by Barbie® (@nickiminaj) on

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Remy releases a second diss track less than a week later (“Another One”) trying to mimic Drake’s “Back to Back”. In the midst of the controversy surrounding whether Nicki will or won’t respond, her Nick Jonas collab peaks at #54 on the Hot 100 and “Side to Side” is certified 2x platinum. “Money Showers” from the year before shoots to #46 on Billboard’s hip-hop chart.

Then, Nicki keeps the fire going with a “No Frauds” release on March 10, 2017.

This bumps “Shether”’s radio and streaming performance and puts its at the #16 on the digital song sales chart. “All The Way Up” is certified 2x platinum at the same time.

The press is doing wonders for both artists’ song sales. Catalogues for both women do better during this time.

In April, Nicki has three songs simultaneously on the Hot 100 (“Regret In Your Tears” from her upcoming album peaks at #61, “Changed It” with Lil Wayne peaked at #71, and “No Frauds” peaks at #14).

7 years ago this debut was released on the same day as Kanye’s #MBDTF [which I also appear on]. He sold half a million first week. I sold 375K first week. PF went #1 a few weeks later on the Billboard 200, breaking a record for the 1st female to do it since Ms.Lauryn Hill. – After all his love & support, my mentor Lil Wayne couldn’t be on my debut album due to a gun charge in NY. That had me fucked up @ the time. It’s now triple platinum and my final single off that album is almost DIAMOND. My fans have been the most loving, supportive, relentless people all over the world since b4 this album even dropped. Thank you. We’re about to do it all over again. Can’t wait to see you guys. Miss you so much. What was your fave off this album? 🦄 #RomansRevenge #RightThruMe #DidItOnEm #Moment4Life #Blazin #SuperBass #SaveMe #HereIAm #ImTheBest 🦄 ‼️‼️‼️ everyone gets hooks n songs already done now, all these songs I just named, (with exception of hook on super bass which I co wrote with ester) ‼️‼️‼️I not only wrote my rap, but I also wrote my own hooks.‼️‼️‼️I believe that’s why this album sounds so personal & honest.

A post shared by Barbie® (@nickiminaj) on

Over the summer, the two go back and forth calling each other out at public events. “Swalla” peaks at #29 on the Hot 100. The contentious lyrics include: I gave these bitches two years, now your time’s up / Bless her heart, she throwing shots but every line sucks. (It’s been two years since Minaj’s last album.) At the time of writing this article, “Swalla” is #77 on Spotify’s daily chart with nearly a million streams.

When fall comes, the feud has all but died completely. Nicki is certified gold once again thanks to “Rake It Up”—after a hiatus from the RIAA charts for some time. She performed it on Jimmy Fallon’s show and the track peaked at #8 on the Hot 100 on October 10th.

Did They Benefit?

In a Google search for “Remy Ma Plata O Plomo” only two articles appear reviewing the album before headlines start mentioning Nick Minaj. Plata and Remy definitely benefited from the publicity with Nicki. Being talked about, being on the front page of gossip sites, and posted about on social media boosts songs’ sales performance and gets you invited places.

In the year of this beef, Remy appeared on shows Unsung, Harry, was a musical guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Love & Hip-Hop (season 7 ran from Nov. 21, 2016 to Feb. 27, 2017), Wendy Williams’ Show, Hip Hop Squares, The Real, Wild ’N Out, and had an acting role on one episode of Empire. She won a BET award for Best Female Hip Hop Artist and performed on dozens of big stages.

But Nicki benefit too. She spent all but two weeks since “Shether” in the Hot 100. “Side To Side” continued to sell throughout the beef, making its way to 3x platinum by August this year. Without Ariana Grande and until “Rake It Up” came along, “No Frauds” was her highest charting song in over a year. The YouTube video has over 112 million views to date. All of those digital sales, streaming numbers, and view counts are dollar signs for Nicki. All without having to release an album or tour.

When two artists come out of a public beef with more coins than when they went in, does anybody lose?

"You b*tches ain't humble enough" – #WakeMeUp song & video available everywhere! Custom Fur- @danielsleather ShirtDress- @terrymaccstore Boots- @ysl Belt- @azzedinealaiaofficial (RIP🙏🏽) Bag- @louisvuitton Pretty Brown- Artist's own #RemyMa #RemyMafia #7w6s

A post shared by Remy Ma (@remyma) on