You don’t shit where you eat.
On April 30th of last year, in a tweet that has since been retweeted 29,789 times and favorited 27,229 times, feminine hip hop mastermind Drizzy Drake made the following known regarding his well-respected but less-successful peer Meek Mill: “Dreams and Nightmares Intro really one of the best rap moments of our generation”.
Over a year later, here we are in 2015, our attention span even shorter and planet Earth a few degrees warmer. After lending a hand to one of Meek Mill’s first smashes, “Amen”, in 2012, as well as numerous public praises of the rapper since, Drake drops another set of guest bars on “R.I.C.O.”, a standout track on Meek’s star-studded sophomore album, Dreams Worth More Than Money.
First, let’s get one thing straight. Drake’s feature on “R.I.C.O.” is a favor. Plain and simple. One of the most prominent entertainers worldwide, Drake’s guest appearance does nothing to boost his profile, and he very likely makes exponentially more money on ONE SHOW than he made on a feature for Meek Mill.
But alas, another career has been ruined by yet another mouth that refused to stay shut on social media. Salty that Drake hadn’t tweeted out his album, Meek Mill accused Drake of using a ghostwriter on “R.I.C.O.”, prompting Drake to release two diss tracks in response: “Charged Up”, and the knockout “Back to Back”. And yeah, Meek may or may not have responded later with his own track. But I prefer to end the narrative there.
The ethics of ghostwriting in hip-hop are another discussion entirely. But here are my 2 cents on the beef:
The blueprint (pun intended) for hip-hop beef is, and will always be, Jay-Z vs. Nas. Though it did escalate into a bit of street talk, the two legendary emcees kept it one hundred percent hip-hop, blessing fans with two of the best diss tracks ever recorded in “Takeover” and “Ether” (honorable mentions to “Supa Ugly” and “Last Real N*gga Alive” too). Regardless of whom you deem the victor, Jay-Z and Nas both brought BARS. For Meek Mill, it’s been clearly established that it was stupid of him to come at Drake. But if he was going to fully commit to this obvious publicity stunt, AT LEAST do it on wax. Jesus fucking Christ. If you’re an MC questioning another MC’s lyricism, fucking do it to him lyrically in however many bars you need to get your point across. Don’t call him out by writing 140 characters on the same website that Anthony Weiner was using to send pictures of his nutsack.
Quite possibly the most pathetic aspect of this whole thing is that it is allegedly over Drake not tweeting out Meek’s album. Here you are, an authentic street rapper squaring off against an artist who is relentlessly mocked for being feminine and sensitive (“Drake’s the type…” ring a bell?), and by some miraculous shift in the universe, you come off as the bigger bitch. I think Drake said it best himself in “Back to Back”: “you getting bodied by a singing n*gga”.
But more regarding the Jay-Z vs. Nas comparison. After Drake premiered the lukewarm “Charged Up” last Saturday, Meek had an ENORMOUS opening. “Charged Up” was more of a light jab. It immediately brought Jay-Z’s “Takeover” to mind, which while vicious, was more of a taunt, prompting Nas to up the ante with “Ether”, some of the most scathing bars ever laid down. Jay stood in the ring holding the belt, and Nas ran in and started throwing punches. But with last Wednesday’s superb, career-defining follow-up diss “Back to Back”, Drake had now managed to release his “Takeover” AND his “Ether”, to continue the comparison. We won’t even mention Meek’s “response”, because I already have a vicious hangover and don’t need any added depression.
The fallout from last week is perhaps the most intriguing part of the narrative. Since the battle came to its unanimous conclusion, I have attempted to listen to Meek Mill (Dreamchasers 2, one of my all-time favorite mixtapes, to be specific), and it is a completely different experience now. It is more difficult to take him serious. The same bars now sound weaker, the same hooks now sound cheesier, and as my mind begins to wander, the internal volume of “Back to Back” begins to eclipse Meek’s voice altogether.
On the other hand, aside from some of Take Care, I have been an extremely vocal Drake hater since Wayne first signed him. While acknowledging his talent, I’ve poured just as much energy into hating on him as I have into praising Kendrick Lamar. Yet after “Back to Back”, here I am re-downloading So Far Gone, and giving it the second chance I never thought I would.
Let this be a lesson, Before all you hyper-sensitive MCs think about going all middle school on us, take a good hard look at Jay-Z and Nas. If you’re not willing to contribute to the culture and make a “Takeover” or an “Ether”, stay the fuck out of the ring.