The battle royale that is currently going on in hip-hop has taken center stage in recent weeks as the spirit of competition has returned to rap in a major way. Diss songs, social media insults and interview digs have been the norm in the past few weeks. Instead of being introduced to the public via Funk Flex's bombs, mixtapes and radio world premieres, much of the content has been disseminated via popular streamers and podcasters.

Podcasters and Streamers Have Become the New DJs in Rap Beef

In the famous words of The Notorious B.I.G., "things done changed." Podcasts and livestreaming are the new wave. Traditional media now competes with entertaining talking heads, opinionated former artists and controversial content creators in the current media landscape. The impact of new-age media has been most evident in the recent beefs that have taken over hip-hop. While fans used to wait for DJs like Funkmaster Flex, DJ Whoo Kid, DJ Clue, The Drama King, DJ Kay Slay or websites to premiere a highly anticipated diss record, podcasters and streamers are now the ones with juice, inside information and access to unreleased material.

The last month has surely proven that to be the case. With diss songs being levied back-and-forth between several rappers in hip-hop, streamers and podcasters have been at the forefront of many of the releases. DJ Akademiks premiered Rick Ross' Drake diss "Champagne Moments" and Quavo's "Over H*es & B***hes" diss at Chris Brown on his Twitch stream and provided live reactions to stunned fans.

"These days, people are much more engaged," Ak tells XXL. "We live in a TikTok era. People wanna consume the content quickly and get it as they want it, not as it's served up."

Ak believes the paradigm shift is largely due to the target audience being younger and more in tune with new media.

"The technology has only advanced now as radio has become less of a thing that the whole culture tunes into," he continues. "People still want that live premiere. So, that's always going to be a thing...Most of hip-hop is not trying to sway the adults. It's trying to sway the kids. So, it's like, what mediums are the kids going to and watching?"

"Everyone is realizing the cultural shift and how things are happening. And this is playing a part of that," he adds.

It's not just songs, inside information is being propagated through these sources as well. Joe Budden has announced lots of "sourced" information about the beefs, some of which has turned out to be true, including news of Drake's "Push Ups" diss before it dropped.

Mal of the Roy and Mal podcast has also been a source of information during rap's current upheaval. He revealed Drake's reaction to the fake Kendrick Lamar diss song and has teased forthcoming records. Fans are starting to notice the change of guard.

"Never knew Akademiks would be the new Funkmaster Flex," one person recently tweeted on the topic.

"This is the 5th exclusive DJ Akademiks gave us in less than 10 days. He’s this generation’s Funkmaster Flex," another post reads.

Not everyone is feeling the transition.

"Nobody got Funk Flex number?" someone questioned. "I’m not trying to get exclusives from streamers."

XXL reached out to Mal and Funk Flex for comment but did not hear back as of press time.

Where Are Bloggers and Streamers Getting Their Inside Info?

Everyone has their "sources." In April, Joe Budden revealed he gets most of his Drake intel from escorts.

"I think most of my Drake intel today comes from my love of escorts," Joe said. "I'm not trying to be funny."

"The escorts just always know," Joe continued. "The escorts are ground level to it all. The escorts are the CIA of the subway system."

Courtesans aside, some bloggers and streamers also avoid the PR rigamarole by having a direct connection to the artist or someone in their camp. Akademiks has been one of Drake's biggest supporters and claims he gets his information directly from the source.

Don't Sleep on the DJ

With all that being said, the DJ is not obsolete. Drake's "Push Ups" opens with DJ Whoo Kid's famous DJ tag. The gesture is not overlooked as a strategic implement to show Drake is still cognisant of the brutal mixtape era, which Whoo Kid was heavily a part of as the record breaker for G-Unit.

"Drake wanted the guy who was the king of beef mixtapes," DJ Whoo Kid tells XXL about his involvment in the track. "The guy who put out the Murda Mixtapes with Stretch Armstrong. The guy who put out 30 volumes of G-Unit mixtapes. He even leaked it like I would to cause chaos in the internet. Back then, I did it with no internet. Streets was f**ked up. He got my blueprint to a tee. New kids wouldn’t know. Now you know. You newbies are all caught up."

The message was felt.

"The DJ Whoo Kidd tag before the Push Ups beat dropped.... gave me goosebumps," one fan wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, about Drake's Whoo Kid plug.

"That DJ Whoo Kidd drop on the beginning of Drake’s diss is nostalgic," someone else noted.

It's a brave new world in the arena of rap beef, with the addition of leaks and A.I. songs only making things more confusing. Welcome to the jungle.

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