DJ Funkmaster Flex—one of NYC's premier hip-hop DJs, putting in work at radio-station oracle HOT 97 for more than 20 years now—was in inspired, incessantly bomb-dropping form last night, unloading a rambling, 10-minutes-plus diatribe against everyone and everything surrounding Jay Z.
If you don't know, Flex is (eh, was) one of the foremost gatekeepers of the East Coast rap scene. He has always been (eh, used to be) a staunch supporter of lyrics-driven rap, and thus worked tirelessly to find and break new NYC emcees who ignored the catchy dance songs clogging up the pop charts and instead focused on their #BARZ.
Because of this status, he and Jay Z have long had a symbiotic relationship. Jay often debuted singles on Flex's radio show, even fairly recently, including songs like "D.O.A. (Death of AutoTune)" (complete with a Flex shoutout), the Kanye team-up "Otis," and a number of songs from Jay's last album, 2013's Magna Carta Holy Grail. Jay and Flex were, if not friends necessarily, at least closely linked partners in New York hip-hop.
It's a little hard to parse exactly how this relationship deteriorated from Flex's outburst last night, but there's a lot of fun to be had in trying: You really should treat yourself to the full rant to truly appreciate the gravely menace of his words, not to mention the dozens and dozens of deployments of his trademark sound effect. Here's the full thing, which really kicks off around the 10-minute mark:
Now, a little context. The problem at hand apparently dates back to this April 2013 interview Flex gave to Life and Times, Jay Z's mostly failed lifestyle site. The discussion largely centers on Flex's mastery of the "digital space" (a phrase he uses nine times in the interview, and about as many times in the rant), especially in terms of his own site, In Flex We Trust, and his then-new app.
What we didn't see, however, is that Flex actually went into a lot more depth in the interview. According to him—and so you know, from the moment he starts talking, he punctuates every sentence with at least one bomb-drop—he was asked "a lot of key questions about appsssss. [BOMB!] Building appsssss [BOMB!], how why [sic] [BOMB!], how'd you launch it [BOMB!]," and so forth. Basically, everything you needed to know about successfully taking an app from an idea to an actual product.
Flex originally thought all of that was left on the cutting-room floor, until he saw Jay's app released in support of Magna Carta Holy Grail, which apparently used a lot of the info Flex put Life and Times onto in his interview. Recounting all this last night, Flex tried to continue with his story, but got caught up in his anger again:
I get an email today, from Life and Times website [BOMB!]—your website is trash, by the way. [BOMB!] Doing no numbers. [BOMB!] ZERO. [BOMB!] And maybe if y'all copied everything from me that y'all needed from that app? That app would still exist today. BUT IT DON'T. [BOMB!] That Funk Flex app, though? You can go into that iTunes, that Google Play, it's still rocking. [BOMB!] Difference between me and you. [BOMB!]
Life and Times maga—what is it, a site [BOMB!]—site's trash. [BOMB!] A buncha dumb, big pictures and no numbers. [BOMB!] Y'all can't move with me in this digital space. [BOMB!]
Eventually, he gets back to the present. Yesterday, Flex got another email from Life and Times asking him for an interview about his involvement in the recent Dipset reunion. Flex had put the app-stealing thing behind him, or as he put it, "I ate that. [BOMB!] I understood it. [BOMB!] Everybody's out here hustling. [BOMB!]" However, he thought it was a little fishy for Jay's website to be coming back to him now, especially in reference to Dipset, the Harlem rap crew that had a brief moment of glory in the mid-2000s.
The various members of Dipset have beefed with Jay Z for years, you see. Cam'ron, the crew's highest-profile member, was once on Jay and Dame Dash's Roc-A-Fella label, before he left in a controversial manner. The two rappers have since thrown verbal shots, both explicit and subliminal, at each other, the animosity waxing and waning with time.
For his part, Flex claims he always tried to stay neutral. As one of New York City's preeminent DJs, he was cool with both crews and never took one side over the other. However, Flex does recall one incident at a Jay Z-owned nightclub (how long ago this took place is anyone's guess), when it was made clear that Jay still took the Dipset beef seriously:
I'm so confused! [BOMB!] And I'mma tell you something about that 40/40 in Atlantic City. There was a security guard that came up to me and told me to change the record, and because of Desiré and my respect, I changed it. We was gonna wear you out in that club that night! [BOMB!] Your whole security's my Tunnel security! [BOMB!] I made them dudes rich [BOMB!], we was gonna press you that night! [BOMB!] And just in case you're feeling lucky, I'm back in Atlantic City on Sunday. And you know who I'm talking to, you funny-looking, and you a clown [BOMB!], and we was gonna take you down that night, and you knew it, that's why you was crying. [BOMB!]
We're a little confused, too, Flex. Who is the "you" you're addressing here? It doesn't really sound like Jay, since the rest of the rant is pretty directly aimed at him, and Flex notes that whoever this guy is, he knows who he is. Anyway, what's clear is that Flex was not happy at being forced to alter his set like this and was gonna press some dude because of it.
With that background fully fleshed out, he gets back to what bothered him about yesterday's interview request:
Life and Times magazine—what is it, your site is trash [BOMB!]—hit me up, and you wanna know my involvement in the Dipset—no you don't, that's not what you wanna know. You wanna know how we moving, and what's the next move, I know it, I'm not stupid! Y'all played me with the app already, and I figured that out. [BOMB!] That's why I'm dealing with you today. [BOMB!]
At the end of his soliloquy, as he transitions into the instrumental of "The Roc (Just Fire)" featuring Cam'ron, Memphis Bleek, and noted Jay frenemy Beanie Sigel, Flex really goes off. For this part, there's no doubting who he's coming after:
But I get it though. [BOMB!] But let me be so clear [BOMB!]. 'Cause I read through everything in that email that was sent to me. [BOMB!] I don't care about your website, your website's trash, y'all can't move with me in this digital space. [BOMB!] Maybe if y'all copied everything I was doing with the app, that app would've did better, it wouldn't have crashed the day your album dropped! [BOMB!]
I CAN TALK LIKE THIS. 'Cause I don't need nobody to do nothing, and I peeped that whole movement this week. [BOMB!] I peeped the whole movement this week, it wasn't even on my radar. [BOMB!] Don't play with me, man. 'Hehehe'—don't play with me, man. DON'T PLAY WITH ME, MAN. Don't play with me. [BOMB!]
I'm a different animal, I show respect, I give respect, I'm neutral. [BOMB!] I didn't take no sides in that situation. [BOMB!] Play me like I'm stupid? [BOMB!] You're gon' see a different dude firing off on YOU. [BOMB!] ON YOU! [BOMB!] I let you live in this town. Don't think I can't ruin YOU. [BOMB!] 'Cause that's a nice feather in my cap IF I RUIN YOU! [BOMB!] TODAY WE BUMPING HEADS."
So that's about it. Flex told Jay he was doing an app with Apple; next thing he know, Jay got an app with Apple. Flex isn't about to be played like a little brother now, though, so he's letting Jay know it's not going down like that again. Flex might ruin Jay! Jay might ruin Flex! Will New York survive? It's so crazy right now!