Tapes, CDs and diss songs on which rappers actually named names. It was all so simple then. Straight-up disses and physical media have been replaced with subliminals and streaming. The rap game has changed exponentially over the years and technology has played a big role. Now, a new player named artificial intelligence is threatening to alter the landscape once again.

In 2023, A.I.-generated music started becoming a hot topic on the heels of virtual rapper FN Meka being signed to a major label the previous year. Fake songs purported to be from some of hip-hop's biggest artists started proliferating online. It got so bad that Universal Music Group began suing companies for distributing the tracks. It hasn't stopped people from using A.I. tools to craft fake music and pass it off as real. The fake tracks have especially been confusing when they are connected to battles and beef.

How A.I. and Leaks Are Affecting New Rap Battles

A.I. technology has made determining what's real and what's fake a tricky game, and it now must be taken into consideration when diss tracks drop on unofficial platforms.

In the summer of 2023, rap fans were settling in for a battle between Jim Jones and Pusha T when King Push appeared to diss Capo on a new Clipse song after Jim said King Push didn't deserve to be on Billboard and Vibe's 50 Greatest Rappers list. Jim jumped out the window by dissing the Virginia lyricist on songs and interviews. Pusha remained silent.

Then, a purported Pusha T diss song did surface, but it was quickly determined by real fans of the rapper to be A.I.-generated due to Pusha's voice and bars being off. That didn't stop the reports from running wild that Pusha had clapped back—even though he did not.

Read More: Here Are the A.I. Songs Featuring Fake Jay-Z, Drake and More Taking Hip-Hop by Storm - Listen

Leaks Have Fans Confused

The potential threat of A.I. and the problematic nature of leaks is now affecting hip-hop's biggest moment: Drake vs. the world. On April 13, 2024, a new Drake diss song leaked and had the internet going nuts. The track finds Drizzy returning fire at Kendrick Lamar, Future, Metro Boomin, Rick Ross and The Weeknd. However, there were initially some reservations about the track from fans and media. The song didn't appear on any streaming services and the rough draft quality left some people surmising it was A.I. striking again. It wasn't until a mastered version of the song came out and Drake referenced the track on social media that people were convinced. With the song still not appearing on any of Drake's official streaming accounts, the song is still labeled a leak.

Two days later, a Kendrick Lamar response hit the internet. Or did it? Again, the song wasn't released through official platforms. So, while fans are excited to hear K-Dot return smoke, they are not sure if it's smoke and mirrors. Is the song A.I.? The product of some super fan's boredom and access to technology? Or is it the real McCoy? Kendrick's silence hasn't helped.

As time goes by, and technology gets more sophisticated, it will be even harder to determine true songs from raps created by a computer. These leaks aren't helping. Gone are the days when fans could enjoy music without the apprehension of being duped. What a time to be alive.

Read More: Spotify Removes Tens of Thousands of A.I. Generated Songs

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