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Chris Brown and Soulja Boy’s ‘fight’ — and Floyd Mayweather and 50 Cent’s promotional grab

A breakdown of a heavyweight publicity stunt

As America prepares for the last 10 days of the Obama era and celebrates Atlanta’s big night at the Golden Globes, here I am waxing poetic about the biggest publicity stunt rap has seen since — well, there’s a publicity stunt every couple of days in rap. But this one made me think of how well-stewed beef comes about these days — on social media. How did people find themselves in the most petty beefs imaginable before tweets and Snapchat stories?

If you don’t know — and maybe you should consider yourself lucky if you didn’t — Soulja Boy liked an Instagram picture posted by Karrueche Tran, Chris Brown’s ex-girlfriend. Apparently, Brown took offense. Soulja Boy, ever the opportunist, clapped back and referenced Brown’s past of domestic violence. From there, things went to hell in a handbasket, quick, fast and in a hurry. Expeditiously, as Mr. Clark from Lean On Me so eloquently put it:

  1. A string of tough-talking Instagram videos happened.
  2. Brown challenged Soulja Boy to a boxing match.
  3. The ultimate wild card that is Orlando Brown briefly threw his name into the hat.
  4. Chris Brown clapped back at Tran for attempting to remove herself from any participation in the Grade A B.S., which was already commencing. This opened doors for an entirely different discussion, as you can imagine.
  5. Soulja Boy apologized and backed down after having a change of heart when his mother apparently went to the hospital.
  6. Soulja Boy claimed Tran didn’t want Brown because he’s on “white girl” with gangbangers throughout his house.
  7. Soulja Boy encountered some resistance in his Los Angeles “hood” — despite being born in Chicago, raised in Atlanta and dabbling in Mississippi and Alabama.
  8. Oh, and Soulja Boy acting like a neophyte Blood who had just crossed the burning sands and couldn’t stop boasting and bragging about his set in every uploaded video, something that couldn’t have appeased those really of that lifestyle. Like YG, for one.
Having money can’t be so boring that you have to wage e-fisticuffs just to pass the time, can it?

Amid all of this, Floyd Mayweather and 50 Cent got involved as “promoters.” Mike Tyson became Chris Brown’s trainer — because that won’t start any inflammatory conversations at all. And supposedly we’ve got boxing’s newest, most talked about card. *Exhales* You’re welcome.

I’d be lying if I said I knew everything about this. I’d really be lying if I said I wasn’t laughing, though. Not really with them, but more so at the thought that having money can’t be so boring that you have to wage e-fisticuffs just to pass the time, can it? Mostly it’s a combination of me quoting the great black philosophers John Levell Starks and the late James Ambrose Johnson (you know him as “Rick James”) by asking, “Did this dude just did this?” while always reminding myself “cocaine is a hell of a drug” and manifesting this incredible GIF.

It’s no secret that Brown and Soulja Boy have had issues dating back as far as 2010. But the question, at least for me, is why Brown would even allow himself to get into any of this. Especially when the only real winner is Soulja Boy. Despite being the grandfather of modern hip-hop dance crazes, Soulja Boy just isn’t relevant musically and hasn’t been for quite some time. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that, with any artist, as long as said artist can accept the realization gracefully. Unfortunately, most can’t. It’s been a decade since his debut album SouljaBoyTellEm.com which had the runaway smash hit Crank That (Superman) and a littany of other college house party classics — and almost seven years since he last charted a single with 2010’s new age Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. anthem Pretty Boy Swag. I guess, in some way, it’s admirable he’s managed to stay visible for as long as he has.

Yet, Soulja Boy has also made headlines more for not buying $55 million jets and for the people he’s beefed with the past several years than for actual music. In the past two years alone, he’s had public spats with Quavo (of Migos), 21 Savage, Shia LaBeouf, Lil Yachty and even Keke Palmer. When you don’t have anything to lose, maybe taking another L isn’t really all that bad? It might actually be “good” for business.

It’s no secret Chris Brown and Soulja Boy have had issues dating back as far as 2010.

Back in August, when a SWAT team surrounded Chris Brown’s California home — stemming from allegations he pulled a gun on a woman — the singer posted a string of videos essentially asking why he was always the subject of bad news and why people repeatedly attempt to gain notoriety off his name. To an extent, he had a point. But the larger and more important point is Brown has a history of repeatedly falling for stuff similar to the “beef” he’s in now. He’s an easy target because, in a lot of ways, he allows himself to be.

Honestly, the only real “winners” here are the villains Mayweather and 50 Cent — Mayweather’s words, not mine. We should’ve seen this coming way back when they were giving Oscar De La Hoya the blues on HBO’s 24/7. I feel comfortable dubbing the two the greatest instigators in sports and hip-hop since the turn of the century. They’re soothsayers of provocation, and making a dollar in the process, and it’s lightweight scary how good they are at it.

Hence why we’re here. Dedicating hundreds of words to a fight that they claim is going to happen. That we think we want to happen, but won’t pay for. That absolutely no one would be surprised if it didn’t happen.

They’ve drummed up publicity and managed to maintain interest over a week — an eternity in internet time. But can they really keep it up? And do we even really care past it being something to pass time in between playoff football and the impending inauguration? Regardless, Soulja Boy is as relevant at the top of 2017 as he’s been since every celebrity on the planet was cranking that Soulja Boy 10 years ago (Brown included). And Brown, well, I’m not sure what he stands to benefit from all this other than another twisted version of his own pride.

About the only one who’s lost in all this is, well, me. So I guess that means us.

Justin Tinsley is a culture and sports writer for The Undefeated. He firmly believes “Cash Money Records takin’ ova for da ’99 and da 2000” is the single-most impactful statement of his generation.