Words by: Ernest Baker
The only mistake Drake’s made in recent weeks is dismantling Meek Mill too quickly and efficiently. It makes him look bulletproof. It makes him look unimpeachable. And as soon as you appear flawless, your detractors dig deeper. That’s why Meek Mill attacked Drake in the first place.
Predictably, Drake’s coup de grâce has the outrage-industrial complex spinning its gears, prodding for some kind of takedown in the face of unassailable Aubrey. But let’s be honest, most of the criticism is faux-righteous, social justice pandering, covered by an insidious, transparent, personal vendetta against Drake. Some people really haven’t gotten over the fact that this biracial, Canadian, former child actor, borderline nerd is still the most successful motherfucker in the rap game.
That’s fine. People get sick of artists. Every rapper who used to be the most talked about, attention courting, best song making rapper of their time eventually falls off or chills out. Jay Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, and Kanye West are not who they were in 2001/2/3/4. But the Aubrey Activists are so desperately eager to push Drake out of his spot and make him A Thing That Happened after six years, because, what? He’s not pristinely politically correct in his dealings with gender politics?
Sorry, but the fall of the OVO Empire isn’t underway just yet. The past few weeks have proven that Drake’s more powerful than ever, which is why he’s more hated than ever. And while we’re at it, 90% of the anti-Drake contingency needs to admit that they hate Drake for purely selfish reasons and stop holding onto the notion that it’s because he’s Bad For The World or whatever stretch of the imagination they come up with today.
Have we really stooped so low as to expect peak level wokeness from a 28-year-old rapper? Why is Drake being held to standards that no one else has to face? Future’s Dirty Sprite 2 has received near universal acclaim despite rampant misogyny, but oh my god, Drake is the worst person ever because he put a meme on the screen while rapping a diss song.
Future gets a pass for the same reason that Drake should get a pass. Humans are complex and flawed and we shouldn’t expect much from them. That’s the problem with this Internet social justice warrior generation. People have grand gestures of political correctness thrown in their face for the hollow reassurance of a Twitter favorite on such a regular basis that they forget to apply their vapid ideologies to real life.
If only “I pull out my dick and I pee on her” received the same microscopic scrutiny as “no woman ever had me starstruck” then surely rap would be a pleasant, utopian oasis of good vibes and inoffensiveness. I can’t wait.
This expectation for Drake to be some type of model citizen who wins a rap battle while magically keeping it PG and hurting no one in the process is so unrealistic and so pathetically wrapped up in such a bitter agenda that I can’t take most of the criticism seriously.
These Drake takedowns would be better if they were honest. Instead of disguising your disgust for Drake as some type of civil fight for all that’s good in the world, just say it plain and simple: "I hold Drake to different standards because I think he’s an annoying, corny fuckboy, who reminds me of guys who I hate in my personal life, therefore, I’m going to attack him for doing things that I don’t speak up against when other rappers do them."
If people came with that approach and kept it genuine, I’d respect their criticism so much more. I’d even just once like to hear someone say, “I don’t like Drake’s music.” Instead, everyone who hates Drake comes with this long-winded, overthought analysis of why he’s terrible for society.
“Drake is what happens when an ex-beta gains too much power.” “Drake is really about class warfare.” How about Drake just handled this beef with Meek Mill a lot fucking better and so he won damn near effortlessly? People want Drake to be the villain so bad that they’ll go to any length to discredit him. But honestly, this backlash-ridden era is about to make for one of the darkest, coolest parts of Drake’s career. He can’t be known as the rapper who likes bubble baths and roses and candles forever. He needs this turn of events where people hate him for some perceived legitimate bigger problem that he contributes to, outside of making rap “soft” and “sensitive.”
And that’s where the critics come in and rap along to Future lyrics like, “I ain’t got no manners for no sluts/I’ma put my thumb in her butt,” without batting an eyelash only to turn around and reprimand Drake because he’s upset that an ex doesn’t give him attention anymore, like that’s not a real emotion. Everything has to be problematic now because Drake is sad on “Hotline Bling.” The selective outrage is way too obvious.
The main hole in these arguments supporting the crusade against Drake is that it’s ridiculously evident that Drake is not a bad guy. There was a point during this year’s OVO Fest when the crowd started chanting, “Fuck Meek Mill!” Drake calmly and politely stated to the crowd, “We don’t even have to go there tonight.” Of course, taking the high road is a very calculated, self-serving strategy in itself, done almost solely to make yourself look more powerful, but it’s still the nicer thing to do. How many guys wouldn’t fully bask in the dark side at that moment? Drake showed restraint.
Meanwhile, Meek Mill is up on stage looking pathetic, rapping garbage bars like, “Niggas turn to hoes/Caitlyn Jenners turn to Drizzy Drake.” And this is in whom you wanna place your faith? That guy wishes that “Fuck Drake” chants would start up spontaneously at one of his shows.
But Drake needs this. Drake fatigue has been creeping in ever since the release of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, back in February. April’s Coachella performances were some of the most heavily criticized moments of his career. Some of that was due to the performances, which were indeed underwhelming. But part of it is the expectations that Drake has created for himself after six years of superstardom.
There’s a scene in Jurassic World where the park operations manager shares the logic behind debuting a new, genetically modified species: “No one’s impressed by a dinosaur anymore.” Drake is in the same position as the suits at Isla Nublar; full-blown beef is his Indominus Rex.
Meek Mill is merely a casualty in the logical progression of Drake’s career. Without this incident, and without the ensuing glory and the backlash, OVO Fest would’ve just been another decently entertaining festival. Views From The 6 would’ve just been the next Drake album. Instead, the beef with Meek Mill created a narrative that will inspire a level of interest around Drake’s next move that might not have been there otherwise. But like that half-tyrannosaurus, half-raptor hybrid that Chris Pratt got all hot and sweaty for, this moment isn’t without its consequences.
The anti-Drake machine is really about to ramp up their schtick, and their opinions have much less to do with which diss song was better than disillusionment in the face of changing values in hip-hop.
The fact that Drake is openly held to different standards for beef than every rapper in history (he’s been especially crucified for making light of Meek Mill’s relationship with Nicki Minaj) is extremely telling of how effective that core group of Drake haters really is. Meanwhile, “Ether,” Nas’s four-minute tirade about how Jay Z is an unattractive dicksucker, remains the holy grail of diss songs. That same group has also lambasted Drake’s use of disparaging Meek Mill memes at OVO Fest as lame and petty. Meanwhile, Jay Z’s “Summer Jam screen” tactic continues to be applauded.
If the rules for beef are so different for Drake, then maybe we should open up the writing conversation as well. Clearly, there’s something dated about the former ideals of authorship in hip-hop, because almost nobody cares about whether Drake used ghostwriters or not. You can see the frustration brewing within Drake’s opponents when they realize that something that would’ve destroyed a rapper a decade ago has almost zero impact now.
Nobody cares about the ghostwriter accusations because the ghostwriter accusations don't matter. Even if they're true. At best, they'll live on as a footnote for woke teens in the 2030s to discover during a late night Wikipedia wormhole after hearing their Millennial parents rap along to "Started From The Bottom" on the oldies station too many times. Walt Disney has accusations of racism and anti-semitism on his Wikipedia page, and that won’t stop half the world from seeing Star Wars in December.
During Drake’s verse on this rare “What I’m Thinkin’ Right Now” track that exists somewhere near the bottom of his discography, he brags about reading The 48 Laws of Power, but I don’t know. He needs to revisit that book, particularly Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect.
Drake does appear too perfect after obliterating Meek Mill the way that he did, and that’s why he’s gotten himself into this whole new mess, where the rest of his enemies have their claws out, freshly sharpened, ready to prove themselves as The One Who Took Out Drake.
The way people talk about Drake, I would swear that he personally snuck into one of their bedrooms and squeezed toothpaste into their eyes in the middle of the night. But it’s not even that deep. It just comes down to the fact that people project their own insecurities onto Drake so much that they forget that he’s an actual person. In the rush to overanalyze every cultural moment with a dash of “what does it all mean” hopelessness, we lose sight of the human being behind the entity we’ve created.
Six years have passed since So Far Gone. Yeah, Drake’s changed a lot. And he may not be the sweet little teddy bear of a kid that he was at 22. I would hope that you’re also a distinctly different person than who you were in 2009. But please, keep up the backlash. It’s Drake’s greatest asset. The protesters are playing directly into his hand.
Remember, Kanye was exiled and universally hated right before his fifth album and greatest masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Views From The 6 is Drake’s fifth album, too, and he’s experiencing a somewhat less intense, but eerily reminiscent, shifting of public opinion right before its release.
With that in mind, do you really think a guy as strategic and calculating as Drake is going to fuck up right now, when he has the perfect redemption storyline within arm's reach? I don’t even think the universe would allow it. It’s like if Jordan only got five rings and didn’t repeat the three peat in ‘98. It was never even a possibility. Sometimes these stories are bigger than us.
The current Drake conversation is over. Congratulations everyone, we've beat this discussion to death. We hadn't had a career-shifting, full-scale, mainstream rap beef in the Twitter era, and I hope we don’t have too many more, because you motherfuckers ruined this shit. We had a potentially fun, memorable hip-hop moment right in front of us and all of you just had to go and tarnish it with your salty politics. I’m so fucking bored.