Once upon a time in a universe far, far away, HipHopDX used to host blogs. Through Meka, Brillyance, Aliya Ewing and others, readers got unfiltered opinions on the most current topics in and beyond Hip Hop. After a few years, a couple redesigns and the collective vision of three different Editors-In-Chief, blogs are back. Well, sort of. Since our blog section went the way of two-way pagers and physical mixtapes, Twitter, Instagram and Ustream have further accelerated the pace of current events in Hip Hop. Rappers beef with each other 140 characters at a time, entire mixtapes (and their associated artwork) can be released via Instagram, and sometimes these events require a rapid reaction.
As such, we’re reserving this space for a weekly reaction to Hip Hop’s current events. Or whatever else we deem worthy. And the “we” in question is me, Andre Grant, and our Sr. Features Writer Ural Garrett. Collectively we serve as HipHopDX’s Features Staff. Aside from tackling stray topics, we may invite artists and other personalities in Hip Hop to join the conversation. Without further delay, here’s this week’s “Stray Shots.”
Is “Wanna Know” The End Of Meek’s Career?
Andre: The only beef that’s actually resulted in diss tracks, Drake v. Meek Mill has been a lifetime of vacuous entertainment in only a week. First, Drake was accused by Meek of not writing his raps. And, even in 2015, this is a big enough accusation to get people up in arms. Still, the fervor was relegated to Hip Hop fans. Pop fans seemed to just be waiting on Drake to sing venom into their hearts about the Philly emcee and be done with it. That kind of happened with “Charged Up” and “Back To Back.” Then Meek was supposed to respond immediately, but in a wave of Internet stuff that didn’t happen for a while.
“Charged Up” was a whispery, spoken word warning-shot. A quiet declaration of war. Meek didn’t respond or perhaps he couldn’t. Then “Back To Back” came down the pike in the middle of the night. Bottles were sent to Charlamagne Tha God. Old reports that Drizzy donated cash to Meek’s High School began to circulate. It was looking like the 6 God had all his bases covered. The whole thing unveiled something else, though.This was cleverness versus earnestness, and Drake knows something that Meek Mill doesn’t seem to: that cleverness will always win on the web. The Internet is not about the truth. The Internet is a swarming hive-mind chomping at the bit of desire. It is still, for the most part, fantasy and escape. You cannot feed it with the truth because people will grow to resent you. It thrives on narrative. And it only reveals the truth when it is uncovering something hidden, dark and secretive like a plot.
So, no, Meek Mill’s career isn’t over. Not even close. In fact, he’s learned a valuable lesson here: no one in the pop community cares whether you write your lyrics once you’ve crossed over. And it’s starting to be that die-hard Hip Hop fans don’t care, either. This is beyond apathy. This is a wholesale shift in Hip Hop’s perspective. Nevertheless, perhaps this is all part of the overall growth of Hip Hop as a genre. There’s nothing wrong with its popularity being so high that it begins to borrow rules from the high-stakes world of other genres. But like a teenager growing up before our very eyes, we still see Hip Hop as the close to the chest journalism of times past. It is not that, now. Not anymore. And maybe that’s okay.
Meek Mill’s career isn’t over by a longshot. He’s a gifted emcee who has made at least two fairly well-received albums and spit some of the best freestyles one will hear all year. Will he ever have a chance in crossing over into mainstream pop? Probably not. And that’s totally fine. Like many successful rappers of the internet age making headway without terrestrial radio, pop celebrity and notoriety, Mill will still be able to properly establish himself in Hip Hop. There’s a reason why mainstream looks at Azealia Banks as a has been following her controversies with Iggy, yet her touring schedule has been more than consistent outside of the acclaim her music has gotten. Even this week, Vic Mensa allegedly dropped a diss track directed toward Travis Scott. At this point, nobody really cares much because both aren’t that significant enough to the mainstream public. Therefore, there’s really no winner. Looking at Mill’s social media numbers, the drama between him and Drake has only grown his reach further.
Drake won the people over by wisely utilizing his fanbase and the internet. On that level, the lyrical exchanges between the two didn’t matter. Just last night, a press screening for N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton really became an eye opener to how people view diss tracks in this day and age within Hip Hop. There’s a scene where Jerry Heller, MC Ren, MC Yella, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E are listening to Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline.” Comically, half the movie theater yelled “That’s a real diss track right there not this Drake and Meek shit.” While Heller wanted to launch a smear campaign via the Jewish Defamation League and lawsuits, the remaining N.W.A. members wanted to keep things on wax. At this point, there were two ideological differences in how to handle conflict in Hip Hop. It just so happens that keeping things on wax was just enough and fans weren’t necessary allowed into the battle area. This made the beef insular and balanced. It’s the exact opposite today. Like mentioned in our first listen, there are certain things in Hip Hop that don’t matter to the general public mainly because how involved fans and social media are in today’s rap beef. Drake won by default because he had a significantly larger following, not because of the issues raised in both response tracks.
Ja Rule’s career went left, despite 50 Cent being a relative nobody at the time because there was a moment where authenticity mattered within the culture on a surface level. That’s just not the case anymore. As Hip Hop becomes more and more infused into the mainstream, certain rules just don’t apply. If anything, Mill should use this situation as a moment to reinvent oneself as someone who plays outside of current notions of Hip Hop. Then again, the owner of his label is Rick Ross, one whose past is shrouded in cases against his authenticity as well.
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.