Beef is as instrumental in hip hop as the snare is to a beat. It’s intertwined with the lyrics, makes love to its music videos and doggystyles its fashion sensibilities. Hip hop’s roots are somewhat embedded with beef of sorts, where rappers would lyrically and sometimes light-heartedly play the dozens in a test of ego and pride. Beef makes for interesting conversations among colleagues. Beef shuts nightclubs down. Beef can actually be quite hilarious, so long as you’re not on the receiving end of it. I guess you can say that beef is somewhat an unwritten element in rap.

Beaf, however, is not.

Beaf is that dumb shit people do that results in someone making a fool of themselves, and in the process setting back evolution by a few years. Beaf is when you see Kat Stacks getting humbled by the Hand of God in the name of Fabolous and Bow Wow. Beaf is a diss song that’s accompanied by a music video that makes you cringe and feel bad for your own people. Beaf is getting into an online shouting match. That’s not to be confused with that one guy who drove eight hours to Texas just to burn down the home of a guy who kept talking smack about him in a World Of Warcraft chat forum, though. That shit is beef.

We’ve all had some sort of beef in our lives. Unfortunately, we’ve also partaken in some beaf as well. Nothing is really wrong with it at all, or at least sometimes. Defending your honor has been a way of life, and in some cases has been responsible for the shaping of this world. On the flip, there comes a time when you just have to be above beaf, because it is more of a detriment than benefit.

In beef, there’s always going to be a winner. The rift between Boogie Down Productions and PM Dawn was a classic case of beef. After their ensuing issues – which may or may not have resulted in Prince Be getting tossed like an overweight javelin off of his own stage – KRS-One is now regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time to some, while PM Dawn was last spotted winning some reality contest on NBC a few years ago.

Beaf, however, has no winner. Washed-up rapper/fake magazine owner/oxygen-wasting, perennial mouf breever Benzino inexplicably started up a beaf with Royce Da 5’9”, which resulted in a volley of ass-backward YouTubes from each other and ended when Royce pulled out a rocket launcher (seriously, where the hell do you get those?) in one of his own responses. Eventually they both just stopped, but not after depleting the public who entertained the ordeal of a few brain cells.

People are too old for beaf. I am, and you are as well. Beaf was considered a big deal when we were children and had to face a bully. Beaf, however, will have you making like Beanie Sigel and threatening to punch out a relatively harmless, love scorned rapper/singer because he had Jay-Z on “Light Up.” Beaf: good grief.