We don’t know where this beef will end up, but we do know one thing: where it stands in the arena of hip-hop.
In the midst of the clutter we’ve faced in the first half of this summer, the #DrakeVsMeek beef has certainty provided us, previously-yawning fans, front row seats to a spectacular showdown.
We’ve bit our nails while driving our cars down the highway. We’ve raised the volume waiting for Flex to drop both his bombs and Meek’s release. We’ve repeatedly listened to “Back To Back” and “Wanna Know” while overanalyzing the punch-lines to later with friends and compare who was more “Charged Up” between the two competitors in the boxing ring.
Crazier than that, we’ve have a magnificent time during events such as OVO Fest where memes of Meek in a wedding dress shined on the back screen while we patiently waited for the contender to get back and fight again (but secretly hoped he didn’t).
We tried to compare and determine the better verses, “who spit more fire,” while picking out the “facts” from this mess in this frenzy-driven clash.
What a battle these two stars have put on for the rest of us. What a spectacle. What a great showdown between two men who have garnered so much respect, prestige, and salutations from the rap and hip-hop fans and artists.
In retrospect, this rap beef began not out of the spite and fire as to who was better a MC, like they usually start. Rather, this is a defensive battle. One man tarnished and accused of using ghostwriters and another on the offensive, without as much popularity. This is no battle between two champions. This is no battle between who rules Mount Olympus. Instead, this is a battle between one man; famous for his catchiness but stained with accusations of not writing his own rhymes (which a matter of fact is the first thing any MC would say is necessary), and another man; with small fandom, riding on the popularity of his girlfriend, Nicki Minaj.
Meek and Drake’s battle, unlike Jay and Nas‘, has not much do with rap, except for the fact it is used 50% of the time as a mere medium to attack the other (the other 50% were attacks by Meek on Twitter).
To backtrack a decade or so, Jay Z—now a king watching his little minion stars spit and fights from his balcony—was a growing star during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Leading Roc-A-Fella Records in its early stages, Jay faced the death of his and the world’s beloved rap star, Biggie Smalls.
It was clear that if not for the world of rap, at least for New York City, a new king had to be crowned. Nas and Jay were the two competitors rising up with popularity, street credit, and critical acclaims. Their ups, downs and friction kicked off when Nas refused to join Roc-A-Fella and instead became a part of Dre’s Aftermath Records family. Thereafter, clear callouts where made in videos and through subtle yet crystal-clear lines at Prodigy, Nas, and Jay.
Jay took the battlefield at Summer Jam where he released, “Takeover,” openly screaming as if with a conch before a war: “Ask Nas, he don’t want it Hov! No!”
Unlike Drake’s four day gap, which freaked us all out, Nas took nearly a four month gap. Today, with our social media intensity, we would have all probably freaked out and given up on Nas. But it was different then. This battle was not about being overprotective, or defending one’s own integrity, or even making sure the audience got its popcorn. The Nas-Jay beef was a duel. It was a game of king of the court. There was a personal battle; a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight. It was meant not to be a little rift between rap stars, but a fight for who really ran the town.
Regardless, when Nas did come back with a track, after a hiatus due to his mother’s illness and death, he changed the way we looked at the rap game. And most of all, he haunted not only Jay Z but us all with the ruthless shots he fired.
Papoose said it best: “That’s one of the great battles; there are other ones too though, in hip hop history. I can go on and on, but that’s one that stands out…It wasn’t an age thing, but a lot of people were sleeping. Like, ‘It’s over! Jay Z killed him!’ I was like, ‘Aight, watch.’”
To attack a rap star, growing tenfold in popularity with hit tracks one after another, is not an easy task. But Nas had taken it upon him to prove who was boss. It was a gutsy move and some clear shots that would make anyone on the other end of the field teary-eyed if not actually weep.
Rap battles have always been, since the conception, a battle for the thrown. And here we have in front of us today, two rappers fighting over the issue of ghostwriters. Accusation on accusations and nothing more, as the fights even got to the radio station levels—Power 105.1 vs. Funk Flex.
Are these two rap battles even comparable? I might have even committed sin for comparing them in the first place, and the rap gods may never forgive me. When Twitter becomes a medium over actual rhymes, and defending one’s integrity becomes an issue over keeping alive a thrown, one can surely understand that this is no “Control”-esque battle. This is no “Ether.”
It has entertained us, and may continue to, but are issues like these real and lethal rap weapons in the battlefield of hip hop? Are rap stars like these two even comparable to the “Watch the Throne”-mentality of Jay, and the “NY State of Mind,” lyricism game of Nas? Are the rifts between these two even worthy of being given attention to and popcorn aisle seats in the concerts of their fights? Are questions and proofs of actual ghostwriters and rap verses being stolen even healthy for the future progression of a beautiful art form like rap?
Drake has been clearly taking the lead and the spotlight recently, but will there be a comeback? How will all of this conclude? We surely know, after this, where this miniscule battle lies in the reign of rap fights, but do we know how it will end up?
As for that question, Meek has said it best: Only “Lord Knows.”