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"Drake, here's how they gon' come at you/With silly rap feuds, trying to distract you." — Jay Z on Drake's "Light Up."
That's a funny line because that's exactly what Jay did to Nas with "Takeover." The first time fans heard it was at Summer Jam in 2001. The actual verse where he disses Nas didn't come until he dropped Blueprint a couple months later. The hip-hop world stopped. I remember sitting in my car with my ears glued to the radio as Flex was prepping to drop Nas' response. That was 14 years ago. The rap landscape (and the music industry in general) has changed dramatically since then. 50 Cent and A$AP Rocky went at it on Instagram all because of a DM, Action Bronson and Azealia Banks went back and forth on Twitter late last year, and Lil Wayne let tweets ring off about his unhappiness with Cash Money. 10 years ago, all of this would've been handled with raps.
This really wasn't a thing until about 2013. That was when Maino took to Twitter and Instagram to respond to Trinidad James' "every nigga that's really poppin' out of New York, he might as well tell you he from Atlanta' comments at a Brooklyn show. And how can we forget the Gucci Mane Twitter blackout when he claimed he and Waka had sex with Nicki Minaj? We may not have realized it, but we were witnessing a shift in the way rappers handled grievances. Instead of heading to a booth, they opened an app. Instead of letting something stew before penning a scathing 16, artists were using social media to instantly react.
Rap is not like wrestling anymore. At least when wrestlers do promos in the form of threats, they have to face the consequences.
When the beef does end up on a song, it's very seldom a diss record. Instead, rappers opt for a more subliminal approach. This tactic has become a Drake staple. He doesn't say names but you know who he's referring to. Jigga is a master at this, too, although, as he's proven before, he isn't scared to name names. Tyga, Game, and Lil Durk traded diss tracks last year, but that was a forgetful spat. Maybe rappers these days are hesitant to put it on record because it's easier to delete a tweet. A diss track can get someone in their feelings, and what was supposed to just be on wax can turn into violence very quickly.
Case in point, Joe Budden and Meek Mill got into it after the former commented on Meek's bashfulness over Nicki at this year's BET Awards. Both battle-tested rappers took to social media to respond to each other. The people wanted a battle, and to be fair, Joe was up for it, but we're still waiting for shots to be fired. Unfortunately, Meek continues to respond to people on social media.
The trend doesn't seem like it'll be stopping anytime soon. The two biggest recent rap beefs both played out over social media this week. First, Ghostface used YouTube to respond to Action Bronson's shady "He's not rapping like this no more" comment on ESPN's SportNation. Bronson then took to Twitter to reel off apologies which Ghost did not accept. The day after Ghost's epic video, Meek Mill got on Twitter and said the wildest shit about the game's most popular rapper. Then, the next night, during a Pinkprint Tour stop in Virginia, Meek tried to soften the blow! What the fuck is going on here? How are you going to kick up all that dirt, and then backtrack in less than 24 hours? What part of the game is that?
"You pop shit, and apologize, just ask 'kiss." — Nas on "Ether."
Rap is not like wrestling anymore. At least when wrestlers do promos in the form of threats, they have to face the consequences. Meek started something that he has to finish. Calling someone out for being a fraud is a serious allegation. More than this whole ghostwriting conversation, I'm more upset that we may never get a diss record out of this. I trolled a little bit last night on Twitter because I'm not the biggest Drake fan (same could be said about Meek). But, the "10 Bands" reference track isn't as bad as people are making it out to be. Does it put a chink is his armor? I would say so. Is it a career-ender? Only if it came out that he was being fed lyrics, and I honestly think that's not the case. A collective in the studio bouncing ideas off each either to make a project come to life is different than being fed lyrics.
As much as people want rap to be something that it's not, it will always be about competition.
Plus, Drake employing writers isn't this amazing discovery. Where have you guys been? A ghostwriter is different than collaborator. We can only go by what we know. Also, remember when Method Man told us RZA and GZA wrote a good chunk of ODB's Return to the 36 Chambers and that he penned the first verse on Ghostfaces's "Cherchez La Ghost" in 2011? That doesn't upset you lyrical miracle rap fucks? There are a lot more instances of this in rap, but that is another conversation for another day.
One thing is clear, though, Drake must clap back. Can't keep being the game's punching bag while claiming king. Can't be bigging up your chest about being the best when you allegedly don't write your own raps. I doubt it would happen, but what if Drake comes for Meek like Beanie did for Jada? Or how Nas answered Jigga? His credibility as a rapper wouldn't be questioned anymore. Does he want to be the best rapper, or is he fine with being a a guy some people consider a "R&B" rapper?
This situation can be the turning point of his career. I want a diss record but that's not his style. Expect catty subliminals in the near future. Either way, Wheelchair Jimmy has to stand up for himself. Drake's response was fitting. He signed up for this and he must hold his own. As much as people want rap to be something that it's not, it will always be about competition. This beef will be healthy for the sport. Steel sharpens steel. What's the last relevant rap beef that played out on wax? Maybe Rick Ross versus Young Jeezy? I honestly can't remember. Everything is playing out on Twitter and Instagram these days.
Earlier today, NBA player Brandon Jennings posted a meme of Drake in a Meek Mill shirt with on Instagram with the caption: "This ain't a diss. You just can't show love to everybody.#LessonLearn." Meek went in the comments and responded with: "Cuz u wear a meek mill shirt that mean you can do what u want ..... Yall niggas suck dick too much! Clown ass niggas!" (sic) If that weren't enough, Meek then took to Twitter to say:
If you really feel that way, Meek, get off socials and sharpen your swords. Fuck all this petty shit, take it to wax. This is hip-hop, is it not?
Angel Diaz is a Staff Writer for Complex Media. Follow him @ADiaz456.