Rihanna was at the center of quite a few ugly situations in 2012, from furious music journalists who nearly mutinied her disastrous 777 aircraft to her truly disturbing (and never-ending) abusive relationship with Chris Brown. Ri-Ri wasn't in the room when Brown and Drake threw down, but it's hard to believe she wasn't the cause of the confrontation. One June evening, both Brown and Drake (who had been romantically linked to Rihanna at the time) ended up at NYC nightclub W.I.P., and while the substance of their interaction remains a mystery, it soon escalated into violence between both artists and their entourages. As Tom wrote when it happened:
TMZ reports that, according to eyewitness claims, Drake and Brown were hanging out together in the VIP section when Drake jumped up and started yelling and pointing at Brown. Both entourages ran in, somebody threw a bottle, and punches were thrown before security broke up the fight. When police arrived at 4 a.m., Drake and Brown had left. No arrests were made, but a few people were injured enough to require medical attention. There was also a lot of property damage in the club.
On Twitter, Brown posted some since-deleted taunts at some nameless assailants, and he also Tweeted a since-deleted picture of a cut on his chin; Rap-Up has a screenshot. Meek Mill, who's been touring with Drake and who's also been rumored to be linked with Rihanna, was also apparently there, and he may have encouraged Drake to confront Brown.
My favorite version of the story is the mostly-discredited one I saw on Vulture. According to this particular (probably false) rumor, Chris Brown sent a sort of conciliatory bottle over to Drake, and Drake returned the bottle with a note that said, "I'm fucking the love of your life, deal with it." If that's true -— and, once again, it's probably not —- it's just awesomely cold.
Regardless of why the fight went down, the bad guy wound up with the girl. Rihana's 2012 album, Unapologetic, included a song featuring Brown called "Nobody's Business" (released as a single, for maximum outrage), and on Christmas Day, the couple were sitting courtside at a Lakers game, in full view of every camera in Hollywood, all over each other like newlyweds. Publicity stunt or sick, self-destructive co-dependence? Either way, merry Christmas!
Argue all you like about the quality of music produced in 2012, but no one can deny the truly outstanding beefs to which we bore witness in The Year That Was. Social media has made those dust-ups easier and more immediate, of course; 40 percent of our 10 Biggest Band Beefs Of 2012 started or built steam on Twitter and/or Facebook. (That percentage would be at an even half if either blogs or online poker-discussion forums were considered “social media.”) The other half started either in traditional media or in real life — as it happens, both IRL confrontations included on this list ended in physical violence.
It was that kinda year: A lot of people talking a lot of smack on Twitter; a small handful showing up at the club with a knife or an agenda. Perhaps most interestingly, though, the beefs that claimed our Nos. 1, 2, and 3 spots centered not on petty personal melodramas, but industry-based outrage. These were vocal and heated disagreements whose roots lay in a fundamental philosophical divide over new technology. Laugh all you like about the words and actions of parties on either or both sides — heck, I laughed plenty myself; it’s the best medicine! — but the questions at the cores of those feuds are Big Ones: What are the responsibilities of the artist, the industry, the audience? None of these beefs led to bloodshed, but the revolution’s most explosive moments are likely in its future.
But we’re not here to speculate — we’re here to look back on a year of sweet beefery. So let’s get started. The Countdown kicks off here.