Is "the battle" a dying art form in hip-hop?
February 10, 2016 at 12:30 am
Same goes for the Drake v. Common beef. The skillsets and popularity essentially determined who the victor would be before any microphones were drawn for the attack. Let me explain. When the Drake v. Common beef developed, Drake was just beginning to receive traction as a serious rapper.
Think back; people were just beginning to stop viewing him as wheelchair Jimmy from Degrassi and acknowledging his ability for lyricism. Fine, some people already knew, but most were just beginning to jump on the bandwagon. Don't feel bad if you weren't aware that Drake would become this large — not everyone is capable of seeing greatness before it peaks.
Okay, so maybe Drake was just becoming solidified as an actual rapper, how does that impact his battle with Common who had been lacking on his rapping skills for a while? Well, quite a bit. I'll admit that Common hasn't dropped any fire records in quite some time. In fact, I'm sure the Drake attack was part publicity stunt, part I'm mad you're smashing my ex. However, the young god is the young god for a reason. Anytime I can no longer see a can of ginger ale without thinking of "Canada dry" and laughing, you can't really say you won the battle. Well you can, but you shouldn't fully commit to it.
Fast forward to 2015 and you get the Drake v. Meek Mill beef. The tables have turned; not identically, but they have turned. If I can be honest, I'm really surprised that Meek Mill has managed to stay around as long as he has. No disrespect to the young Philly jawn (see what I did there?), but he's always had a one-hit-wonder vibe to me. For me, he's the guy whose singles I can jam to, but I never manage to actually buy the album. Yeah, that makes me a little sad too.
Now Drake on the other hand, what can't he do right now? Seriously, whether you're missing your ex or not, you can't deny his talent for storytelling. Isn't that what all the best emcees do anyway? Tell a tale and make you feel like you're a part of it? Drake, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole (currently the best emcees in my opinion) are all really good at this. Therefore, the beef was unequal from the beginning.
Again, any time your opponent massacres you with one line there's a problem. Need I say it? Fine, I will,"Is that a world tour, or your girl's tour?" Come on, son! That was disrespectful on varying levels. Mill's response was so lackluster. Now, in all fairness, one could argue that, similar to the beef between Jay-Z and Nas, Nas won the battle but Jay Z won the war (hugest Jay Z fan here, so tread lightly) — by putting a ring on Nicki Minaj's finger Meek somehow came out the true champion. Except we're all waiting for that relationship to fail.
Back to the matter at hand, rap battles are critical to all of hip-hop, including mainstream. Why? Because how can you ever reach your highest potential if no one challenges you to further hone your skills? When the best challenge each other we see artists pushed to their peaks. We, the fans, if we're lucky, have been able to witness such epic displays of talent that we walk away with greater respect than we did before going in. As of late, I find myself reluctant to declare either side a winner.
I've said all of that to say this — I need a worthy rap battle in my life and, if you're a thorough hip-hop fan, I'm sure you do too!