One of the coolest X-Men villains is a guy named Sebastian Shaw. Wikipedia succinctly describes his powers as, “the ability to absorb energy and transform it into raw strength.” I thought of Sebastian Shaw tonight as Drake ran his Meek Mill diss track back for the fourth fucking time in a row on OVO Sound Radio. (Blame Saturday morning cartoons. Certainly don’t blame the trash X-Men film that features Kevin Bacon’s mediocre turn as Shaw.) The song is called “Charged Up,” and of the dozens of barely-subliminals packed within it, there’s a lot to read into the title alone. Drake is Sebastian Shaw. Meek Mill threw a colossus-sized shot at him, his reputation, and his legacy this past week. And if Drake’s silence on social media, followed by first response is any indication, all he did is absorb it and transform it into raw fucking fire.
I’m thinking less about the song, which is cool indeed, than Drake’s overall career and impending album. Earlier this year, when the dust settled from his pseudo-surprise release If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, rap fans realized the tape, while full of bangers, was largely monotonous in both sound and content. That’s fine when the songs are as great as “Know Yourself,” but, as I wrote back in February, if Drake really wants to be The Guy, he can’t get too comfortable. Thankfully, he seems to be cognizant of this sentiment. In a Four-Pins piece that chronicled a weekend spent in the 6ix God’s orbit, Drake agreed with writer Ernest Baker that his next album needed to shock listeners in the same way Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak did. He also said the album will feature a song he “expects to inspire a paradigm shift." Still, as Views From the 6 looms, details about everything from the collaborators, release date, and overall sound are still largely unknown.
Welp, now the album is almost guaranteed to be great. Why? Because controversy of this magnitude is exactly what Drake needed. His last two projects and slew of recent guest features in between have been laced with defensive tough talk about him being ready for any battle that should come OVO’s way, as well as a feeling of disdain for phantom haters. There's a whole song on IFYRTITL about said haters trying to take his energy. But from the outside looking in, such talk was starting to seem rote in a climate where The Boy is basically embraced, accepted, and championed from all ends. Sure, there was a Common diss, a Puffy scuffle, and the rap purists who will never be down, but overall the fan-to-hater ratio is exceedingly lopsided. Now his defensive raps have been legitimized. Now lines like, “I stay silent cause we at war, and I’m very patient” hold real weight. Past interviews suggest Drizzy’s been damn near salivating for someone to step out of line and take aim.
That man warned y'all a LONG time ago. pic.twitter.com/Rmsa9yJFQd
Hov warned Drake about the “silly rap feuds” on “Light Up,” but it's clear he’s been waiting for a serious one (read: not Tyga). It’s almost as if he believes getting embroiled in a beef and winning is a necessary rapper career notch much in the same way 40 pushed him to make a tight, 13-track album à la Blueprint.
What’s more, Meek attacked Drake’s artistic credibility with accusations of employing a ghost writer. It’s a can of worms that has many a fan re-thinking every (especially recent) Drake track they liked and questioning its integrity and authenticity. Drake’s now in the position of having to defend and uphold his role as both the nicest out and prove that, as the NWTS bonus track says, it’s all him. All of which explains why it wasn’t enough for him to merely drop “Charged Up,” but two certified, unrelated heaters as well. Warning shots at all of his detractors in one versatile bundle. Meanwhile, at press time Meek, the more battle-tested of the two on paper, has done nothing but tweet.
Another thing about “Charged Up” as a title is that it implies there’s more to come (hopefully a song that's less "The Catch Up" and more "0 to 100"). The 6ix God ascended to Mt. Olympus and needed a hard shake to wake out of his euphoric stupor. Now he’s ready to release that Energy. Can’t wait to see what happens next. 2015 is too fucking live.
Frazier Tharpe is a staff writer at Complex. The only set he claims is the Roc. Follow him @the_summerman.