Following delays, social media post and the world watching with a microscope, Meek Mill finally dropped his response track in the form of “Wanna Know.” Co-produced by Jahlil Beats and Swizz Beatz, the diss comes after Drake swung with two large uppercuts in the form of “Charged Up” and “Back To Back.” But, is the track effective? DX Features Editor Andre Grant and Senior Features Writer Ural Garrett look into what this means within the ongoing saga between Meek Mill and Drake.
Was “Wanna Know” Worth The Wait?
Andre: This is what I thought when I heard Meek Mill dropped a diss track, finally: “Oh.” Then I listened and felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me. “Funkmaster Flex night” cut in through bombs as David Letterman’s famous line took me right back to my room on Nassau street. There was a hope. He had so much ammunition, right? There were the reference tracks, sure, but it wasn’t just that. Meek was about to pull out his bag of tricks and get to the heart of the matter. He was going to prove why Drake isn’t untouchable. That didn’t happen last night. Not quite. And despite the Jahlil Beats and Swizz Beatz track, the uneven and overall ineffectualness of the track shone through. Even after days of waiting and waiting, “Wanna Know” felt rushed.
That isn’t to say Meek didn’t get a few jabs in. Cutting out to Quentin Miller’s voice on the reference track for “Know Yourself,” and letting him get all the way to an idea when he half sings, “All the real live forever, mane / All the fakes get exposed.” That’s a punch landed. Claiming he paid hush money to Chris Brown to have that beef go away is a half punch landed. That he wore Meek’s chain at the All-Star game to get respect is another half-punch landed. That’s two punches in total. This is getting good, right? Nope. In today’s era, making half-baked assertions about someone studying you is cool, but letting them get the drop on you is not. For all of the assertions leveled at Drake over the years, only one has really stuck: that he’s a stranger to Hip Hop. The appropriation snafu’s (Bay area’s hyphy, Houston’s slow-down, Memphis’s drug talk, Miami’s turn-up, Atlanta’s innovation, etc.) and paying off emcees whose rhymes he borrowed (paying Rappin’ 4-Tay for YG’s “Who Do You Love”) means that fruit was ripe for picking, but Mill didn’t really take it there. He didn’t exploit that glaring golden nugget about Drizzy’s past. But he did say, at the end of the first verse, this devastating right hook, “Spitting another niggas shit, you say you the king though?” Ouch.
Then, we had to wait and wait and wait, for Meek to close with him speaking on Drake getting whizzed on by Cap at the Takers movie premiere. And a funny but half-hearted line about Safaree.
For everything Meek leveled at Drake on “Wanna Know,” nothing directly speaks about him. Yes, there are specific incidents when you could say Drake should have been more aggressive, but Drake has never pandered to that audience. He’s never acted as though he was a hard-rock when he really was a gem. More importantly, this track was necessary. Meek Mill needed to save face for not responding sooner, and I think that pressure also hindered the tracks effectiveness. Either way, we’ll see where it goes from here.
Ural: Instead of calling the track “Wanna Know,” Meek Mill should have titled it, “It Doesn’t Matter.”
Regardless of how Meek Mill responded, the odds were tremendously stacked against his favor. Between the strategic brilliance (not of actual quality) of “Charged Up” and “Back To Back” alongside the Funk Flex debacle at Hot 97, nothing the Philly emcee did was going to effectively damage Drizzy’s reputation or sway detractors firmly allied with #TeamDrizzy. That didn’t stop Milly from attempting the impossible. “Wanna Know” is the equivalent to a Final Fantasy Limit Break unleashed by a level 15 party member against a boss character damn near at level 40. Despite some nice right hooks and solid jabs, the long-awaited response simply wasn’t enough. At this point in time, Drake is a bonafide pop star who simply can’t be touched. The outside world loves everything from “Best I Ever Had” to “Worse Behavior.” To many, he is a musical embodiment of a God. Drizzy’s fans can honestly care less about the technicals of an emcee including whether or not he writes his rhymes. Yes, having Quentin Miller as the featured artist and peppering some of the controversial reference tracks was a bold move but again, no one cares. Adding Hush or Detail into the conversation wasn’t going to help either.
There was something inspiring about the Jahlil Beats and Swizz Beatz’s production using the Undertaker theme song which Meek may find himself being sued for eventually. Breaking down “Wanna Know” completely, the diss’ main problem is that Drake isn’t the only target. From the looks of things, the MMG soldier is going after Safaree and Joe Budden as well. When Hov shot at multiple targets on “Takeover,” he was at the position to. Meek is nowhere near capable at the present moment, if not ever. Shots regarding Drake allegedly paying Chris Brown off, getting snuffed by Diddy or getting urinated on by one of T.I.’s associates weren’t going to improve his chances, not one bit. The best thing Meek could have done, which is something that Drake didn’t do, is name names. On that level, the bite might have matched the bark.
Leaving Nicki Minaj out of it was responsible on Mill’s part and that deserves some respect. The framing of Drake’s diss records always landed on the fact that the Queen Barbz was more successful than Meek as if that was actually a problem. Humorously, Mill introduced Minaj as the women who had him starstruck during one PinkPrint tour stop. Female success, especially black women success, has historically been framed as a threat to male masculinity. In the eyes of many, including Drake himself, Minaj’s success is something Meek should feel ashamed of instead of embraced for what it is. Ironically, people do care about that. Then again, the ironic lesson regard passive-aggressive sexism and gender roles in Hip Hop is another conversation for another time.
There was hope Mill would come harder. However, that’s all in relation to how one views Hip Hop in 2015. Yes, there are a few who actually believe Mill dropped some solid haymakers; because to them, the Philly emcee represents a particular kind of artist being phased out in today’s rap climate for lighter artists with a ton of edge; hence Drake’s untouchable crossover appeal. In the eyes of the people, Mill’s career is over but, he did something that Kendrick Lamar, Common, Pusha T or Ludacris never managed to do; strike a nerve at Drizzy’s credibility within Hip Hop enough for him to respond with such ferocity. On that level, that’s an accomplishment.
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.