What’s the proper term for this still-unfolding drama between Drake and Meek Mill? Neither a battle nor a rivalry nor a USDA certified rap beef. What we’ve seen amounts to a social media skirmish amongst rap celebrities in which the most devastating blows haven’t been landed by the rappers themselves (or their co-writers) but by fans on Instagram and Tumblr.

When the memes hit harder than the bars, it’s not a battle.

But two MCs trading lines toe-to-toe—like, say, Busy Bee vs. Kool Moe Dee at Harlem World in 1982? Now that was a battle. Young Moe Dee from the Treacherous Three changed the rap game that night, calling names and kicking ass with a devastating lyrical onslaught aimed at the chief party-rocker that made call-and-response rhymes a thing of the past.

You could also have a battle on wax, as with the Bridge Wars, set off by BDP’s 1987 single “South Bronx.” Challenging the Juice Crew’s Queens-centric version of rap history as set forth on their record “The Bridge,” KRS used his voice like an automatic weapon, mowing down all competition and evoking the energy of a kill-or-be-killed Jamaican sound clash. When BDP came back with a reggae-flavored knockout punch called “The Bridge Is Over” the whole Boogie Down Bronx celebrated the victory.

When the memes hit harder than the bars, it’s not a battle.

Meek first collaborated with Drake on “Amen,” one of the Philly rapper’s biggest hits. But now that Drizzy’s on his “gotta lotta enemies” flex, he decided to diss Meek before anybody suspected there was a problem—and as with so much of the drama in his life, it was all about a girl. In the second line of a lengthy opening verse on “R.I.C.O.,” a track from Dreams Worth More Than Money that was ostensibly written by Quentin “I am not and never will be a ghostwriter”​ Miller, Drake rapped, “The girl of your dreams to me is probably not a challenge.” Drake spit that knowing full well that the DreamChaser’s “Dreamgirl” was also a fellow Young Money megastar—a girl from whom Drake’s received a lap dance, for whom he’s professed his love, and to whom he’s proposed marriage. What’s more, he’s done all these things on hit singles that have collectively clocked hundreds of millions of VEVO views.

But two can play that game. Meek and Nicki trolled fans this past weekend when Nicki began calling Meek her “baby father.” All of which, we assume, has Drake feeling some type of way. When he declined to tweet about Meek’s new album, Meek aired him out on Twitter over the issue of ghostwriting. But that issue was quickly swept under the carpet. Disputes about artistic authenticity are so boring compared to lines like, “Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?” Drake got all charged up, and the whole thing made for the best OVO Fest ever. Still, such showbiz shenanigans have little to do with the warrior spirit of wit and wordplay that’s baked into the DNA of hip-hop culture, which arose from the wreckage wrought by socioeconomic desolation and street gang violence. It’s kinda like Ja Rule trying to bait 50 Cent into another war of words now that he has a reality show to promote.

This is not a battle.

As a street rapper from Philly, Meek knows the difference. Watch him lyrically assault a dude named Teck right here:


It ain’t hard to tell that Meek has not been treating this Drake situation like a battle. It’s been mostly shadowboxing and show business. Until the Pinkprint Tour hit Camden, N.J., last week, Meek’s most memorable response was some tough talk about wedgies.

When rappers talk about giving each other “a wedgie” it’s definitely not beef.

Last Thursday night, Meek slipped into a red Dr. J Sixers jersey, and dropped an a cappella freestyle in which he bragged about waking up next to Nicki, compared Drake to Caitlyn Jenner, and even mentioned Drizzy’s mother.

So it is a beef now? We’ll just have to wait and see and hope for the best. Because nobody really wants beef. Beef is BDP bum-rushing Prince Be of PM Dawn and throwing him off the stage. Beef is 50 Cent absorbing nine gunshots and then coming back like the Terminator. Beef is Gucci Mane blasting Pookie Loc. As Mos Def once noted, “Beef is not what Jay said to Nas.” But the implication of beef was there on “Takeover” when Hov said, “Don’t let me do it to you [homie] cause I overdo it, so you won’t confuse it with ‘just rap music.’”

The first time you heard Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya” you just knew there was going to be trouble. Nashiem Myrick’s ominous beat and the lyrics it inspired within the mind of Christopher Wallace were deemed too ill for a Mary J. Blige interlude. Instead, the song got released as the b-side to “Big Poppa” back in February of 1995, not quite three months after Pac was set up, pistol-whipped, robbed of his Rolex, rings and chains, and shot (whether by his assailant or, as many allege, on some Cheddar Bob shit).

nobody really wants beef. Beef is BDP bum-rushing Prince Be of P.M. Dawn and throwing him off the stage. Beef is 50 Cent absorbing nine gunshots and then coming back like The Terminator. Beef is Gucci Mane blasting Pookie Loc.

The timing of that release, just as the beef was starting to simmer between Tupac and Biggie, would prove unfortunate. Pac took offense, as detailed in his infamous April 1995 jailhouse interview wherein he called out the Notorious B.I.G., Puffy, Stretch (R.I.P.), Lil Shawn, and everybody else who happened to be in Quad Studios that fateful night. Before long Pac got down with Death Row, clapped back with “Hit Em Up,” and the rest is history. Biggie and Tupac’s fatal falling out spiraled out of control into a bicoastal rap war that led to the death of hip-hop’s two biggest stars within six months of each other. Their tragic cautionary tale became the larger-than-life example by which all beef is measured.

“That wasn’t a battle,” Nas observed in Cheo Coker’s Biggie biography Unbelievable. “It was beef. Tupac was on some straight war shit. Big was on some Mafia shit with class without saying names. Like, 'If we got beef I ain’t gonna say your name. You know, I’m just gonna see you in the street. But take these subliminal words, mawfucker, cause I ain’t like you either.' And Pac’s shit was like, ‘Fuck that. Let’s blow the buildings down. Let’s blow the city up’. They’re two different kinds of geniuses, like Malcolm and Martin.”

“I thought he was smart to stay silent when Tupac started his war of words,” Jay Z remarked in a VIBE cover story. “And on the real, I could tell the whole situation made him depressed. We had worked hard to leave a certain type of life behind, and from the beginning that thing felt like more than a rap battle.”

Others believe that a true battle can prove cathartic, breaking the tension so that all concerned can move on with their lives. Nas’s brother Jungle of the Bravehearts said he thought Biggie and Tupac’s battle might have gone a different way if Biggie didn’t keep it all subliminal. “Everybody wanted to see the skill battle,” he says. “Believe me, that would have calmed the tension down if they woulda gone at it. Just like Nas and Jay Z. The fact that Nas responded to Jay makes the people around him feel like, ‘At least he said something.’ We’re not gonna be walking around with the grudge forever. Like, we have to get him back. Son got him back, lyrically.” Sorta like all those frustrated Dream Chaser fans have been waiting for Meek Milli to do to Drake.

Even after all the lyrical murderation, the two rap icons were able to come together and collaborate on music and business deals—because a good battle defuses beef.

Let’s hope Meek and Drake don’t have to endure the beef before we all get to enjoy the battle.