Why There Was Nothing Dope About The Ghostface/Action Bronson Rant


Let me preface this by saying I’m a huge fan of both artists involved (Action Bronson and Ghostface Killah) to the point that both are in my personal top five at present. I have dedicated playlists groomed specifically for each artist. I’ve witnessed firsthand the wild energy of an Action Bronson show. While I’ve never had the honor of seeing GFK perform live, I was one of few kids at my northern California high school rocking Clark’s Wallabees in the summertime like it was nothing. While Ghost is obviously the veteran artist with a ton of classic joints under his belt, Bronson has, in a short time, become a personal favorite long before he became the darling of hipsters and mainstream outlets. I write this out of love for both artists and for the culture, so don’t get this twisted as some sort of slight to Ghostface as opposed to an honest critique as a disappointed fan and music journalist.

If you’re not up on things, read the story and catch the video here.

In a nutshell, Ghost is too much of an OG to be taking potshots at other rappers via YouTube. It would be one thing to express distaste, but to issue threats? He’s old enough to know better. That was a move of a rapper born in 1992 or something. Everyone knows that the best way to ensure nothing ever happens is to issue the threat on a public forum, specifically on video. So I think we can establish that nothing serious will come of this…and that’s actually a good thing.

The people who seem to be hyping this up online seem to be mostly fans of Ghost who don’t know much about Bronson’s work. These are people who heard of Bronson on a “this guy sounds like Ghostface” note and went into it looking to find someone biting Ghost’s style, which he absolutely doesn’t do. Aside from a slightly nasal vocal similarity, there really isn’t that much the two have in common, as heard when the two collaborated on “Meteor Hammer”. Personally, I hear a lot more Queens/Kool G Rap or even Big Pun in Action Bronson’s rhymes. In terms of style, I can’t think of one song Bronson has put out that I could see Ghost doing the same way. Both MCs are highly adept at stream of consciousness raps and being obsessive about details when painting a picture for listeners, both seem to draw from different places entirely. Love it or hate it or know nothing about it, you can’t say Bronson isn’t operating as a completely unique artist on Mr. Wonderful or any of his prior projects, for that matter.

These are two unique MCs with a lot to offer to the game even currently. Bronson doesn’t need to pay homage to Ghost for sounding like him, though he has paid homage to Ghost’s influence and contributions to the culture many, many times. Unfortunately, Bronson responded to the comparison for the billionth time on SportsNation and got a little out of pocket saying Ghost “isn’t rapping like this no more”. This is false. Ghost has been putting out some very good material recently (even his contributions to the abysmal A Better Tomorrow were bright spots). Bronson’s comment just struck me as self-aggrandizing shit-talking, not as an actual scathing diss, as some have hyped it up to be. As we all know, the Wu tends to get a little touchy about other rappers questioning their abilities. That being said, when has rap not been about competition and bravado? Bravado is damn near the fifth element of the culture as a whole. Ghost feeling a need to elevate the situation to violence was trite and beneath his stature as a pillar within the culture. What would have been dope and will probably never happen now is Bronson and Ghost getting on a track or giving us an Action Vs. Ghost EP to kill all talk of similarities or swagger-jacking once and for all. Unfortunately, the present day rap game is so thirsty to have something matter in this dreadfully banal period in hip-hop history that they’ll hype this situation up into perpetuity and egg on a feud over artistic progress. And don’t think this is going to result in top shelf rap beef. Kids who weren’t around for Ice Cube vs. Common or even LL vs. Canibus would rather read tweets between moody rappers than hear classic diss records being dropped, so let’s just all cut our losses and act like this whole thing never happened. Cool? Cool.

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  1. Good read as always, I knew you’d have an objective opinion on this.

    This is the problem as I see it. I agree that ghost shouldn’t have taken it to YouTube (gone the Soulja boy/ice t route) but this isn’t totally out of character for Ghost in particular or the Wu in general. They have never been afraid or ashamed to take things to “the streets” and sadly the streets are now world star and YouTube for the most part.

    The writing has been on the wall for awhile about this whole situation. And while I agree that Action has done a great many things to show how different he is from Ghost, he has also done his part to play up the similarities when it’s been advantageous to him. The law of the streets dictates that if you are going to play that role you ALWAYS got to play that role. The minute it looks like you are out of pocket, a guy like Ghost (ESPECIALLY a guy like The man behind Shark Biter skit) is gonna react. And when Wu reacts people get assaulted.

    Overall your point stands and this is what kids nowadays don’t get. These videos don’t benefit the culture. Let’s get some classic bars out of this.

  2. I feel you. Ghost is known for infamously knocking the taste out of Mason Betha’s mouth, but that was years ago when it could be somewhat accepted as being young and wild. Like I say, he’s too old for this at this point. And that isn’t a shot, though hip-hop looks at it as one. There were things I would have been known for at 22 that I’d be hard pressed to do now. Hip-hop is a giant incubator for a lot of these brothas who are determined to handle things like a 20 year old well into their 40s and it’s unfortunate.
    I’ve been an avid follower of Action Bronson and have never seen him “play up” the similarities before, so I’m not sure what you mean by that.

  3. Most times he will play it off (like his interview with Jonah Hill) but he almost always has addressed it was “he was an influence” yada yada. What I’m saying is those things that make people almost invariably either think of Ghost or whatever, he hasn’t exactly changed or played down, and it’s worked to his advantage, either by getting folks who are Ghost fans to check out what all the fuss is about, or by getting buzz from the other end of the spectrum.

    I truly believe that, especially at this point in his career, he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a Ghost clone, but it’s undeniable that at least a part of the fame he’s accrued to this point (directly or indirectly) is due to those comparisons.

    Either way it’s unfortunate, but in the end, they both are probably gonna benefit from increased sales.

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