Back in 1988, KRS-One founded the Stop the Violence Movement to address the violence that was plaguing parts of the hip-hop world at the time. Sadly, that violence only escalated -- and in the mid-'90s, things became downright tragic with the well-publicized East Coast/West Coast feud that involved the Notorious B.I.G., Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, and Bad Boy Entertainment on one side and Tupac Shakur, Death Row Records, and the infamous Suge Knight on the other. Hip-hop has always had feuds -- LL Cool J versus Kool Moe Dee, the Juice Crew versus Boogie Down Productions -- but when Biggie and 2Pac were both killed in drive-by shootings, the East Coast/West Coast rivalry became more than a war of words; it became a war of actual bullets. Hip-hop's many feuds are the focus of the documentary Beef, and this soundtrack often captures the intense bitterness that has characterized some of them. The soundtrack opens on an extremely bitter note with "No Vaseline," Ice Cube's scathing 1991 attack on Eazy-E and others he knew from N.W.A -- and the CD maintains a harsh, angry tone with other previously released songs (including N.W.A's "Fuck tha Police") and new material by, among others, KRS, Jayo Felony, and Poverty (a seriously talented white MC from Portland, OR). Not all of the tunes are actually about feuds among rappers; "Fuck tha Police" is a commentary on police brutality. However, those feuds are a recurring theme, and KRS engages in a little feuding of his own when he gives St. Louis pop-rapper Nelly a serious tongue-lashing on "You Don't Really Want It." Of course, KRS has long had a sense of what is and isn't crossing the line; he understands that while verbal aggression is one thing, committing actual violence against fellow MCs is totally unacceptable. Sadly, he fears that some rappers don't understand that, which is one of the reasons why Beef desperately needed to be made. Not everything on this soundtrack is great; some of the tunes are excellent, while others are merely competent. But at its best, the Beef soundtrack sheds some light on a disheartening hip-hop crisis that has stubbornly refused to go away.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson