It’s unfortunate that MC Shan’s legacy in hip hop is often relegated to being the loser of the legendary Bridge Wars. As one of the greatest rappers of the ’80s, the Queensbridge pioneer deserves so much more than being known as the rapper who lost to KRS-One.
Perhaps the biggest factor for why people think of Shan as losing The Bridge Wars is because he didn’t respond to Boogie Down’s second salvo, “The Bridge Is Over.” Ok, let’s take it back for a minute. Here’s a quick history lesson.
During the mid-80s, MC Shan had a song called “The Bridge” which was making its way around the boroughs. Produced by Marley Marl, the track featured Shan boasting about his Queensbridge projects.
“The Bridge” was actually a cassette that was circulating in the Bridge for years before it ever came out,” MC Shan later told Complex. “Everybody in Queensbridge had the cassette. That was never intended to be a record. We had a festival in the park, so one night we came home from a show, and Marley said, ‘Yo, let’s do something that we gonna play in the park, about the Bridge.'”
Now, this is where Boogie Down Productions and the whole beef starts. After getting dissed by Juice Crew affiliate, Mr. Magic, KRS-One used an MC Shan line in “The Bridge” (“You love to hear the story, again and again / Of how it all got started way back when”) as an excuse to attack the Queensbridge crew.
Shan quickly retaliated on the Marley-produced “Kill That Noise”, featured on the rapper’s debut album Down by Law, which refutes the idea that he said hip hop started out in Queensbridge. It didn’t take long for Boogie Down Productions to return fire with “The Bridge Is Over”, where they doubled down on their “South Bronx” attacks.
After “The Bridge Is Over” dropped, Shan didn’t reply, which meant that KRS was declared the victor. According to interviews with Shan years later, he wanted to fire back at KRS, but Marley didn’t want to, thinking that they were going to give the upstart Bronx crew more undeserved attention.
MC Shan: My main regret on that little hip-hop battle thing is that Marley didn’t let me make another song. I was that artist back then that you couldn’t say nothing about me. Make a record? I’ma do something about that. Marley would not make another beat for that, and I gotta live with that stigma to this day that I didn’t come back with another song. Marley thought, “It’s gonna make Kris famous!” “He already famous off the first joint!” To this day, if I’d have known what I know now, I would have said, “Screw Marley!” went and got another producer and did what I wanted to do in the first place, and it wouldn’t be a thing of, “Oh, you never came back with another record!” ‘Cause it makes me look like an LL. LL didn’t respond to me, and then it looks like I didn’t respond to Kris, but that was Marley’s fault, and I gotta live with Marley’s bullcrap to his day.Interview: MC Shan Talks Juice Crew Legends, Little Known Beefs, and His Fallout With Marley Marl | Complex