THE BASIS POINT

If Ritholtz vs. ZeroHedge Blog Feud Was A Rap Battle, Which Rappers Are They?

A blog spat between TheBigPicture and ZeroHedge a few days ago is ancient history now, but seeing two heavyweights take shots at each other was rap battle-esque in its entertainment level. TheBigPicture author Ritholtz started it by asking, with his signature artisan curiousness, if ZeroHedge jumped the shark. ZeroHedge author Tyler Durden finished it, with his signature venomous eloquence, by laying out site vs. site stats. So if Barry and Tyler were rap battlers instead of sparring bloggers, this is who they’d be and why.

WHY TYLER IS EMINEM: If Tyler was a rapper, he’s Eminem for two key reasons: (1) both are popular as hell without compromising hardness, and (2) there’s no rapper who more clearly defines Tyler’s venomous eloquence than Eminem. In a song off Jay Z’s Blueprint album called Renegade, Em says: “I’m just a kid from the gutter / makin’ his butter off these bloodsuckers.” Substitute trading floor for gutter and I can’t think of a line more appropriate for Tyler’s approach to markets and writing. On that song, Eminem makes even Jay Z sound amateurish, but that’s not the sample song I’m linking to for this rap battle analogy because it’s not done in rap battle style. Instead I’m choosing one from his Recovery album called No Love [iTunes] [YouTube]. As if the title didn’t speak enough to Tyler’s style, the song contains one of the best rap battle verses of all time, period. And Em’s lyrics in that verse speak precisely to what Tyler is all about. You have to wait through a Lil’ Wayne verse which feels rudimentary at first, but grows on you…kind of like The Basis Point!

WHY BARRY IS GIFT OF GAB: If Barry was a rapper, he’s Gift of Gab from Blackalicious for two key reasons: (1) both are elder industry statesmen as passionate and skilled as any player young or old, and (2) they’re both committed to temperance in environments that don’t usually respect this trait. In a song off Blackalicious’ Nia album called Shallow Days, Gift of Gab says “time and time a brother ask why the rhyme is not laced with a gangster touch / I said it’s simply because I don’t live that way but still kickin them rhymes that’s rugged and rough.” I’ve linked to that song to demonstrate that temperance can still be compelling and entertaining. But since we’re on the rap battle theme, The Fabulous Ones [iTunes] [YouTube] is a Gab sample that captures what he and Barry are about. You’ll see that Gab is stunning on the battle mic but there’s still a mathematical precision that belies the aggressiveness. And this song was written 11 years ago. He’s only gotten better while committing to this style. Just like Barry.

As for bridging Barry and Tyler, the most likely candidate for that right now is Josh Brown, a writer/money manager whose TheReformedBroker blog spits as much market venom as it does think pieces. I’ll revisit this topic again to reveal which rapper Josh is.