The Bridge Wars remains one of the most important rivalries in Hip-Hop history — pitting MC Shan and Marley Marl from Queensbridge — against Boogie Down Productions from the Bronx. While the back-and-forth is well-documented, the inciting incident is lesser known.
Long before B.D.P. would become a household name, KRS-One, Scott La Rock, and Levi 167 were looking to make inroads in the business as a group called 12:41. Their most prominent release, "$ucce$$ I$ The Word," came out on Fresh Records in 1985. The record came and went without much fan fare because Mr. Magic of the original Juice Crew — and radio station WBLS — was presented with a copy, and called it wack. During an era where a WBLS co-sign meant everything, it was essentially a slap in the face.
Eventually, KRS and Scott La Rock rebranded as The Celebrity Three — alongside MC's Levi 167, and MC Quality. Collectively, they released "Advance" on Street Beat Records (later re-released on Scott La Rock’s 1988 posthumous Man & His Music album). The song was about the dangers of nuclear war, and an early example of The Blast Master’s advanced wordplay. Once again, the record did very little in helping establish the group as a creative force.
While the back and forth between MC Shan's "The Bridge" and BDP's "South Bronx," suggests a rivalry built upon where Hip-Hop was birthed, the beef, was in fact, from Mr. Magic's slight of "$ucce$$ I$ The Word." According to DJ Red Alert, BDP was looking to exact revenge however they could, and it just so happened Mr. Magic was aligned with the Juice Crew.
"Succe$$ I$ The Word" doesn't have the same aggression as other songs that followed like "The Bridge" and the "South Bronx," but it remains an important piece of the puzzle when unlocking the true orders of events. Without this small footnote, who knows what happens...
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