Born To Troll – Hip Hop And The Art Of Trolling
There was a time when Hip Hop news spread at a rate of once a month. Fans from the inner city to the suburbs would impatiently wait for their favorite of about 3 rap magazines to be released. If an artist “popped fly” in an interview and started talking sideways about a rap rival, it might take a month for that artist to read it. It would then take a week or two to get into the recording studio. After that upwards to a year for a diss to appear somewhere on wax.
Often times like in the case of De La Soul’s subliminal disses to Jungle Brothers throughout their Buhloone Mindstate album, the beef would be squashed before fans even heard the recorded slight. Lightning fast internet connections along with quick and nimble twitter fingers, now give rappers the ability to go directly at each others necks….on the internet. Thus the birth of the Hip Hop Troll.
What The Research Says
According to the study by NatalieSest EvitaMarch “Trolls employ an empathic strategy of predicting and recognizing the emotional suffering of their victims, while abstaining from the experience of these negative emotions…creating mayhem online is a central motivator to a troll”. In layman terms a troll has the empathy to realize what’s going to hurt your feelings, while disregarding your feelings in an attempt to wreak the most havoc online. Whether it’s Floyd Mayweather vs. 50 Cent, Tekashi 69 vs. the world, or even the historic trolling of Ice-T by Souljah Boy years back, it seems that even the best can’t resist the bait of an internet troll.
It’s also apparent that these online back and forth’s provide hours if not months of entertainment for fans via, tweets and hilarious memes. Sometimes these situations that start in the comment section, spill into real life when rappers confront their online bullies. Yet ironically enough,they record the confrontation and use the footage to troll their troll. Its like an ebb and flow of cyber trash talk.
Social Media allows artists to remain relevant by connecting directly to fans. Artists like Azealia Banks have had tweets become major stories with outlets like CNN with no link to her music in the story. Elon Musk tweeting on acid from his mansion used to be something you had to be there to see. Kanye West has 21 Grammy wins and released a song with the lyrics “poopity scoop”. Perhaps he thought “ if you’re going to feed the trolls, you might as well give them something to choke on”. Let’s not forget that the current President of the United States ran his campaign and often controls the news cycle with 24 hours a day of trolling. And for as tiring as it becomes, you just want to know what he could possibly say next.
Has it gone too far?
According to the study Trolls are more likely to be male with high levels of train pyschopathy and sadism. When you combine that with the comfortability of expressing an opinion from a remote location, it can either provide for classic humor, or spark fiery conversation that in extreme cases leads to real violence.
Trolling has ruined careers and boosted careers all while being infectiously entertaining. However, when you’re the unfortunate victim of it, it can infuriate you…even depress you. Cyber bullying makes young people twice as likely to self harm or attempt suicide.
You Never Know
Artists from earlier era’s have legacies that are still cloaked in mystique. It made you wonder “Did Charlie Murphy really karate kick Rick James?” By the time you heard that Krs-One kicked P.M Dawn off of the stage, it sounded like he was picking up posse members and throwing them like some kind of South Bronx incredible hulk. Who knows? If we would’ve had the chance to hear Prince Be’s version of events directly after on his Instagram live he might’ve put a whole different spin on it (Rest in peace Prince Be). Could you imagine if Tupac had a twitter? It would either be empowering or disastrous or maybe the right blend of both.