All eyes on them: The Drake-Meek Mill feud
If you’re not versed in hip-hop, the concept of diss tracks and artists calling each other out in songs might seem a little strange. After all, it’s not something that happens in other genres. Except, y’know, when Lynyrd Skynyrd called out Neil Young, reminding him that, “a Southern man don’t need him around anyhow” in “Sweet Home Alabama.” Or that time Nick Lowe called Rick Astley a clown in “All Men Are Liars.” And of course there’s punk legend Mojo Nixon’s seminal classic, “Don Henley Must Die.”
So, OK. It’s not a phenomenon that’s unique to hip-hop. But let’s face it: Rappers have elevated it to an art form unto itself, and have used the Internet effectively to respond to one another quickly. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty good turnaround for writing, recording and distributing a song. Sometimes, the clashing toxic masculinity-drenched egos can be noxious, but on occasion, you have to stop and appreciate the passion and technical skill that goes into the process. That stuff ain’t easy.
The current lyrical feud is between rap icon Drake and a new voice, Meek Mill. The gist of the beef — according to accounts in Rolling Stone and the comments section of the rap-lyrics interpretations on Genius.com — is that Mills was upset with Drake for not Tweeting about his new album, “Dreams Worth More Than Money,” and not showing up to a release show, and so he Tweeted that Drake didn’t really write the verse he contributed to his collaboration with Mill, “R.I.C.O.” And then Peggy told him that Laura said to him that he was talking trash about him on the swing set at recess. Or something like that, because man, some of this is junior-high petty.
Whether it’s a legitimate feud or just an exercise in viral marketing, it’s clear that Mill is definitely benefiting from the publicity, and that it’s drawn a lot of attention to both his album and the music video for his collaboration with singer Chris Brown and girlfriend Nicki Minaj, “All Eyes On You.”
Still, it’s kind of hard to care. On the other hand, Drake is winning the diss battle, dropping two songs in short order: “Charged Up” and, when Mill called the first song “baby lotion soft,” its followup, “Back to Back.” Mill has yet to reply in verse — he’s on the road right now, opening up for Minaj. Mill took to Instagram to insinuate he’d have studio time soon to reply, but it’ll likely be too late by then. The heat is already dissipating. These things are more entertaining in the flash of tempers than they are when they’re coolly considered.
But Drake’s built a slow-smolder groove on “Charged Up,” in which he meditates on fame and hunger, throwing in Mill’s face, “I see you (expletive) having trouble going gold/Turning into some so and so’s that no one knows / But so it go.” While the song is postured and assertive, there’s still a sense of control, although the lowest blow is when he casts Mill’s complaints in the light the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the recent deaths of unarmed blacks at the hands of police officers.
As to “Back to Back,” he ratchets up the aggression, noting that, “Whoa, very important and very pretentious / When I look back I might be mad that I gave this attention,” but then digging into what he sees as Mill’s jealousy over his writing chops, Mill’s feud with Philadelphia rapper AR-AB, and a somewhat sexist attack on Mill’s masculinity, particularly the fact that he’s opening up on tour for Minaj: “Is that a world tour / or your girl’s tour?” He also warns Minaj to get a prenup if she marries him. Dragging Minaj into it was unnecessary, but otherwise, these songs are actually fairly enjoyable in their chest-puffing and braggadocio.
All told, this is a tiny little trifle, more amusing than anything, and one doubts that it’ll amount to anything — Drake ends “Back to Back” by insinuating that he’s done and going back to working on his new album. But hey, it was a fun little trifle while it lasted.
Email Victor D. Infante at Victor D. Infante@Telegram.com and follow him on Twitter @ocvictor.