Drake and Meek Mill are beefing. For those who’ve had access to the internet or a T.V. in the past week, this isn't breaking news.
The two former buddies have developed “bad blood” (as T-Swizzy and fellow rapper, Kendrick Lamar might say), which became public thanks to Meek Mill’s perhaps regrettable decision to take to social media. He made a strong accusation on Twitter about the 6 God, claiming that he doesn’t write his own lyrics. Shots fired.
In response, Drake released a couple of diss tracks that absolutely destroyed Meek Mill, calling him a charity-case and saying his girlfriend Nicki Minaj is straight up better than he is. Ouch. Meek replied with his own futile track, and the internet unanimously crowned Drake as the winner through various memes, tweets, vine videos, and Instagram posts. My favorite has to be the Pokémon battle that features Drizzy using the move “Back To Back”, which was super effective.
While I love a good old-fashioned hip hop feud, I couldn’t help but find myself a bit confused. The premise for the beef was simple enough—one rapper threw barbs at another that crossed a line. Nothing unexpected. The rapper who felt attacked countered by making some diss tracks. Also typical. But things start to get hairy when closely examining the content of those tracks.
In his two full (I say full, because there is a snippet of a third out there) diss tracks directed at the MMG rapper, Drake not once refutes Meek’s claims. In other words, Drake never denies having a ghostwriter.
This was interesting to me since the whole reason why the beef started was because Meek made these types of accusations. Instead of using his diss tracks to set the record straight, Drake deflects and focuses on other matters.
He grounds his insults in declarations of being the king of the rap game, and by repeating over and over again that Nicki Minaj is more successful than her boo. The jabs about Nicki are obvious to make, but they of course do the trick. In “Back To Back”, his second diss track, Drake talks directly to Nicki, warning her to get a prenup so that Meek can’t take on the stereotypically female role of gold digger (“And shout-out to all my boss bitches wifin' niggas / Make sure you hit him with the prenup”).
“Charged Up”, his first diss track, is much of the same. Drake slyly veils the central issue at hand—that he maybe, possibly, could sort of have a ghostwriter—in his diss tracks by playing up his strengths (namely, his unmatched flow), capitalizing on Meek Mill’s only pseudo-stardom, and ignoring the initial accusation altogether.
Drake was clearly angry when Meek Mill made the plagiarizing claims about him, hence the two-and-a-smidge diss tracks. You’d think a main feature of Drizzy’s rebuttal would be to vehemently deny having a ghostwriter, but it isn’t. My question is, why?
Does Drake find Meek’s accusation so ridiculous to begin with that it’s not even worth his time directly addressing? Or could it be that Drake does indeed have a ghostwriter and is trying to avoid the subject? My gut tells me that it’s the latter, especially since Drake chooses to use his energy (got a lotta energy) combating Meek.
Of course, Drake may just be teaching his supposed friend Meek Mill the lesson that you’re not supposed to rat out your friends. But again, even with this logic, I still don’t see Drake denying anything, which is somewhat suspicious.
In his terrific piece breaking down the Drake vs. Meek Mill beef, Kris Ex discusses the phenomenon of ghostwriting in hip hop. He alludes to Diddy and Dr. Dre who are notorious for not writing their own stuff. Plenty of rappers have someone else do the writing for them—we just don’t know about it because it’s kept on the DL. Not having authorship over your work is seen as weak in the hip hop world.
Ghostwriters themselves keep a very low profile in order to protect the reputation of the people they write for. In fact, the only person who’s actually come forth and said that Drake doesn’t have a ghostwriter is the alleged ghostwriter himself.
Quentin Miller, who was listed as producer and writer of many of Drake’s tracks on his recent album If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, has been called out by Meek Mill and Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex.
Flex released a handful of “reference tracks”—songs written and produced by a third party individual that rappers listen to and recreate on their own (lyrics, flow, and melodies included)—featuring the alleged ghostwriter Miller. “Know Yourself” and “10 Bands” were among the leaked reference tracks.
As Kris Ex says, ghostwriters never expose their clients, nor their own true identities. If Miller admitted to writing Drake’s lyrics, he’d lose a seriously well-paying customer. The relationship between rapper and ghostwriter only works if they agree not to mention each other.
Quentin Miller has denied writing for Drake, but Drake makes no such denial in his response to Meek Mill. These two things don’t add up. Here's how I’m beginning to look at the whole situation. Drake got pissed at Meek Mill not because his claims were outrageous and lacking in evidence, but because he violated an unspoken confidentiality agreement among rappers. Namely, you don’t expose someone for having a ghostwriter, especially if you’ve collaborated with him or her on a record in the past (Drake was just featured on Meek Mill’s song, "R.I.C.O.").
What befuddles me the most is how much the notion of Drake potentially having a ghostwriter has gotten lost in the fold. Once Drake fired heavy shots back at Meek and Meek’s retaliation “failed”, people were so adamant about Drake destroying his competition that they seemingly forgot why the beef was happening in the first place.
It’s like Drake was put on trial for having a ghostwriter, but didn’t receive due process. The jury (i.e. internet users) deciding his case ignored the original accusation and discarded all legitimate pieces of evidence. Suddenly, roles reversed, and it was the prosecutor (i.e. Meek Mill) finding himself in a compromising position.
Perhaps everyone was so quick to dismiss Meek Mill and side with Drake because of his position in hip hop. Drake is on top of the world right now. Everyone loves him and can’t get enough of his vulnerable lyrics and catchy hits. If he wasn’t actually writing his own songs, his fans—who consider him to be the realist guy out there—would be crushed.
Photo Credit: www.atrilli.net
Drake needs to be innocent because he’s a precious commodity. He’s LeBron James of the rap game. As Kris Ex said, he’s the reigning King. He just can’t be a fraud, so fans will shit on Meek Mill until he’s too covered in feces to muster up any kind of meaningful response.
Yet I still find it morally troublesome that people are not making a bigger deal about Drake possibly having a ghostwriter. By turning a collective blind eye, we are accepting that plagiarism in modern day hip hop is okay so long as everyone is making money and fans are happy. Furthermore, if anyone suggests the possibility of this type of underhanded behavior taking place, they’ll receive the “Meek Mill treatment”.
And of course, the big question on everyone’s mind is who won the Drake/Meek Mill beef. At least 95% of people would say Drake. I agree with the majority, but my reasons for “picking” Drizzy go beyond him spitting hotter bars than his opponent (which he did. See his line about having the “Midas touch”).
Even though there’s a good chance Drake didn’t write his material, music fans have demonstrated that they’re willing to overlook his supposed transgressions. He’s reached the point of being untouchable, and for that reason, Drake continues to sit comfortably (perhaps even more so than before) on his throne.
Meanwhile, Meek Mill suffers a devastating and humiliating defeat. Before the beef, he was irrelevant (even non-existent) in the eyes of many. Now, he’s a joke.
Poor Meek Mill. Lyrically, his diss track “Wanna Know” wasn’t half bad! Of course, the ridiculous use of Undertaker gongs in the background didn’t help his cause. Meek simply called out the wrong man at the wrong time.
All things considered, Meek Mill isn’t the biggest loser here. Hip hop is. If the hottest rapper in the game today cannot truthfully claim authorship over his material, then what does that say about the state of hip hop? It’s losing the most important element of its ethos: self-expression.