So I’ve been watching this Meek Mill and Drake beef over the last month, and it’s interesting to me how much hip-hop has changed and yet how much it remains the same. Playing out like a WWE storyline, these two popular rappers defined the new age of beef, online bullying, and the music game.
Round One: Meek Mill Attacks on Twitter
Meek Mill had a Drake verse on his latest album, Dreams Worth More Than Money. Upon its release in late June, Mill started to build buzz for having one of the year’s hottest rap albums. Soon, Mill took to Twitter, lambasting Drake for not promoting the album/single to his 25+ million Twitter followers.
Then, Meek Mill started clowning Drake to his 5+ million Twitter followers for using ghostwriters, a common old-school diss used by lyricists of the golden and silver age of hip-hop. In fact, Drake is widely seen as the Nickelback of rap, so Mill assumed he was safe in jumping on the bandwagon of dissing Drake.
Everyone starts to get a little uncomfortable when Mill disses Drake, because he’s in a relationship with Young Money labelmate Nicki Minaj. On top of this, Drake and Nicki are among the hottest musical acts on the planet in the last decade, whereas Meek Mill’s success is fragile.
Then Funkmaster Flex jumped in and started calling Drake out as well, as though he were happy to participate in what he viewed as the latest Jay-Z v Nas, Biggie v Pac, or 50 v Ja beef. Drake is seen as a weak, commercial, pop rapper, but the man has talent.
Though we all assumed Drake would get into a Twitter slap fight or release a terrible diss track (like both he and Lil Wayne did when Pusha T called everyone out on “Exodus 23:1”, it turns out the Canadian native and Nickelodeon alum actually has some edge to him
Round 2: Drake Jabs Meek Mill on Wax
It wasn’t long before Drake responded, not with a tweet, but with a diss track, titled “Charged Up.” On its own, this track is simply alright. Mill called it – at least you can tell he wrote this one, but soon Drake released a second diss track, titled “Back to Back.”
Though spitting with a lazy flow on “Charged Up,” Drake brought the fire to “Back to Back,” fully utilizing his rap/sing style to full use making a better street banger than Meek Mill, who’s known for the style.
Soon, even the Philadelphia Eagles were blaring Drake instead of their hometown MC during training camp.
Mill responded with the promise of a response track. Funk Flex touted it on his show. Then nothing came out, and, instead of waiting, the Internet declared Drake the clear winner, but it wasn’t over yet. Mill believes himself to be 50 Cent in the 50/Ja beef. No way he’s losing to an R&B singer/rapper.
Rising up from the dead like The Undertaker (even sampling the wrestler’s entrance theme), Mill eventually released a response track called “Wanna Know,” but by then it was too late – both his and Funk Flex’s credibility was messed up.
Both “Wanna Know” and “Charged Up” would’ve been equally mid-grade hits, but Drake started winning the instant he stayed off Twitter and put his beef to a beat. Meek Mill is actually a talented MC, but he failed to impress on too many levels during this beef to be ignored.
Everyone on social media weighed in with an opinion. Even Whataburger’s Twitter account scored a huge marketing win by weighing in on the beef.
But Drake wasn’t finished driving his point home, because Mill is still (as far as we know) sleeping with Nicki. He still may not realize he lost the beef from the sound of his social media accounts. The final blow came to Mill’s career during Drake’s 2015 OVO Fest.
Round 3: Drake Bodies Meek Mill in Concert
Whether you love or hate Young Money/Cash Money, you have to admit they understand showmanship. Drake had his finger on the pulse when he released the songs, but his annual summer concert in Toronto was the best place to perform the song on stage.
The media and Internet went bananas as Drake played a slideshow of Meek Mill memes while performing a mashup of his two diss songs. The finale was the Whataburger brand tweet, which is pretty much the equivalent of pissing on your opponent’s dead body.
In the aftermath, you’d think Mill would want to distance himself from the beef, but his Instagram account shows him continuing to keep Drake on his mind. One can only imagine he and Nicki are quite divided on the issue as he follows her on tour.
But, for better or worse, the industry isn’t what it used to be. A new generation is in charge, and Ja Jr. demolished Faux 50 while everyone was busy stanky legging.
Brian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared on Huffington Post, Fast Company, Hardcore Droid, Cannabis Now, and High Times.