It happened. Drake dropped a “diss track” or at least the Drake equivalent on his Apple One radio show OVO Sound Radio and it was a lot of things. If you judge the reaction by the Drake stans then Meek is down for the count. But, of course, we’re here to judge this thing objectively.
There’s more than a few ways of looking at “Charged Up.” Here’s Meek Mill’s view.
Baby lotion soft…… ?
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) July 26, 2015
I can tell he wrote that 1 tho……
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) July 26, 2015
So, What do you think of “Charged Up?”
Andre: A, yo. My boy just hit me with the straight logic. “The first rule of rap fandom is to lower your expectations,” he said. True. True. But this “diss” track or whatever you want to call it doesn’t do the basic requirements of what a diss track should do. It’s ridiculously low-key. I guess there’s a chance he was looking to come off like some kind of Michael Corleone character. All swag, no sweat, right? But instead it seemed like he just kind of didn’t want to be there. I get it. This whole “does Drake have a ghostwriter” thing is really inconvenient. But, when someone puts their foot to your throat the least you could do is come back with a little verve. But whatever, I can’t tell the man how to rap. Let’s look at the bars, right. Well, I’m still looking. Which is another basic tenet of putting out a diss record: you probably should call the person out by name. And, you know, you probably should say something worth saying. “Come over to OVO to get your bread” is not saying anything. Ugh. Look, this is the social media age and everyone knows who came for Drake so why is he acting like some struggle rapper tried to diss him on kanyetothe?
Ay, Dios Mio! So the 6 God came with no energy and no real shots at Meek. Yeah, there was that line about how he could’ve possibly gotten it on “Only” style with Nicki Minaj, but Nicki said that didn’t happen and so I’m likely to believe her.
Look, there are two things that really, really disappoint me about the track (I know, I know it’s probably not finished or whatever, but then why release it?). One is the way he dismissed Meek Mill’s accusations. Someone saying you don’t write your own rhymes is a serious accusation in Hip Hop. I don’t care if it’s 2015 or 1995, that’s a serious accusation. And, yeah, it may be that no one cares anymore because Twitter, but that doesn’t mean rap doesn’t care. Lying underneath the nugget of logic that says “of course people have had ghostwriters in the past, what’s the big deal?) is a deep well of disappointment. Disappointment because his record is tarnished. It is. It’s tarnished in a way that can’t be changed even if I forget about this all tomorrow. Rap won’t forget. It won’t. Secondly, he didn’t address the knock on his integrity. That’s what this is about. It’s about an assumption of integrity. That’s a childlike thing, and rap, no, Hip Hop still has it. It has it the way America had it before Kennedy got shot. It has it the way Rock had it in the 60s/70s. It has it the way Jazz had it. And you can’t go around saying you’re “Charged Up” and act like Hip Hop doesn’t have that childlike belief in the integrity of its artists and not address yours.
Ural: Keeping in mind, if Drake actually wrote “Charged Up,” at least he kept things in the booth and left social media alone. Considering the ghostwriting allegations that stunned Hip Hop this week plus the whole “BlackBerry” freestyle controversy years back, Drizzy showed some balls. On that level, it’s always appreciated. He took a chance and everyone is excited. I’m guessing the bar was set so low for Drake to respond, saying anything was going to rile up his rabid fanbase and rap media folks just trying to ensure they’re on the winning side. That’s more of a testament to his popularity and power, not to whatever artistic abilities he has as an emcee. On its own merit, “Charged Up” is kind of disappointing. Comparing it to the history of rap beefs and their subsequent diss tracks, the track isn’t near the levels of “Hit Em up” or “Takeover.” Not by miles. Everything sounds just as uninspired as Drizzy’s tone.
The fact is, Drake didn’t actually address the allegations and subsequent proof. Instead, he just took a shot Meek through his relationship with Nicki. It’s similar to the same thing he did with Tyga. At the time, the line was great because there was a hint of truth and comedy. Plus, Tyga was already a parody in and of himself. The line regarding Nicki felt like it was coming eventually. And yes, so what if Nicki is the bigger artist of the two? Does it matter? We live in a society where women are becoming higher earners than their male counterparts anyway. Hell, next year, America may elect its first female president.
Then there’s this crapshoot line: “Cops is killing people with their arms up and your main focus is to harm us?” The past couple of years have been a huge year in terms of racial violence against blacks by the police. Throughout that time, Drake has yet to make a bar, reference in an interview or anything. From Trayvon Martin to Sandra Bland, I don’t remember him mentioning any of those controversies at all. Did I miss something? The line feels forced and unnecessary; no bite at all. Why does this lyrically matter to him now? “Charged Up”s lack of aggression could mean that this is just a warning shot of something greater to come. Right now, Meek’s career should remain intact if he can get off of Twitter and make a response. At the moment, everything feels like an elementary school yard fight where people are just pushing each other. No good swings, no haymakers the size of Sharkeisha. If this is the standard of rap disses in 2015, there’s a reason why there hasn’t been a great lyrical epic since Kendrick’s “Control” verse. Why? Because, K.Dot named names without actually dissing anyone.
Andre Grant is an NYC native turned L.A. transplant that has contributed to a few different properties on the web and is now the Features Editor for HipHopDX. He’s also trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot. Follow him on Twitter @drejones.
Ural Garrett is a Los Angeles-based journalist and HipHopDX’s Senior Features Writer. When not covering music, video games, films and the community at large, he’s in the kitchen baking like Anita. Follow him on Twitter @Uralg.