The first night of college is a night you will never forget….unless you drink enough mini-bottles of Jack to stock a hotel fridge.
I remember waking up the next day with my first ever hangover.
I remember the looks as I left the dorm and the snickers when I entered the cafeteria.
I remember the embarrassment hitting me like Floyd Mayweather when I was informed of what happened the night before.
Basically, it started with a pre-game and ending with me singing into a toilet. I don’t remember much, but I’ll never forget it. I was the first stupid freshman to get way too drunk, and it haunted me the rest of the year. Any party, dorm room or pre-game I stepped foot in would welcome me with a joke or a remark. After a while it stopped bothering me, I was more annoyed at people thinking they were the first ones to make the joke than the joke itself, but for that year, no matter what I did, no matter how many other freshmen prayed to the porcelain gods, I carried the reputation as “that dumb freshman.” Luckily for me, a new year brought in a new batch of dumb, drunk freshman and I faded into the crowd and was able to shed my reputation.
Others have not been so lucky.
I’d imagine the last few months of Quentin Miller’s life have been much like my second day of college. The Meek Mill-Drake beef is so old even Taco Bell wouldn’t serve it, but Miller, who was caught in the crossfire, is still living with the fallout. Drake doesn't interest me that much, I might be the only person in the world who hasn’t listened To What A Time To Be Alive, and other than a few tweets here and there neither did the beef, but I do love looking at the careers of rappers both big and small, and the person I've found the most fascinating quickly became Quentin Miller. In a matter of days, he went from obscure internet rapper to the topic of conversation on every blog (including DJBooth). Shit, it went well beyond just the tiny universe of rap blogs. Huffington Post, The New York Times (one of the biggest news sources in America) and MSN were all giving the young artist attention.
Quentin Miller, the guy accused of writing raps for Drake, is coming to the rapper's defense saying he’s never been and never will be a ghostwriter. According to Miller, he was just your average baker with a passion for music when Drake took him under his wing. He says most of “If You’re Reading This It's Too Late” was done before he was brought in to collaborate on a few songs. He adds ... Drake didn't even really need him, and he was just happy to take notes from "the best in the game." Miller was responding to accusations—from Meek Mill and others—that he wrote Drake's rhymes on “10 Bands.” —MSN
It sounds like the dream of any aspiring rapper. A rapid, exponential rise thanks to hip-hop's most popular rapper? What could be better? Imagine how Miller felt. A call from Drake must have been a dream come true, as it would be for any “average baker.” Getting paid to work with one of your idols? Amazing. The buzz around the ghostwriting must have been the cherry on top. While the rest of the struggle rappers were tweeting links, the New York Times is mentioning you? Sure, they don’t know the intricacies of hip-hop but any press is good press, right? Twitter numbers wayyyyy up... Miller must have thought he was ready to blow; I know I would have. Little did he know, by the time he was reading The New York Times it was too late. The thing he thought was going to make him famous is the same thing holding him back. What seems like a stepping stone to some has turned out to be nothing more than a pitfall that may just be too deep to overcome.
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We’ve seen what a Drake co-sign has done for The Weeknd, Migos, and iLoveMakonnen to name a few, but Miller’s situation is different. This wasn’t a remix dropped in the dead of night, it wasn’t an OVO signing, it wasn't even a tweet. Drake didn’t highjack a Miller song the same way he did with Sweeterman, no, Miller worked directly with him on several songs. Logical thinking would suggest he had the biggest claim to legitimacy considering that that, you know, in a sense he carried Drake, but the relationship between Miller and Drake is a mystery ensnared in a quandary draped with a quagmire.
To even begin to discuss that relationship is to get in an entirely different debate about ghostwriting, credit, and inspiration, a debate that's overwhelmed interest in Miller's music itself. Maybe he is/was the Casper to Drake’s Kat Harvey. Maybe he simply wrote a song as songwriters are known to do. At this point, it doesn’t really matter. For Drake, who has since erased a memory by dropping an album and canoodling with a tennis star, it certainly doesn't, but for Miller, it’s become the only thing that matters. So much so that I realized, everything I knew about Q.M. had nothing to do with his music.
Every artist deserves a shot, regardless of songs they did or didn't write. It’s been my goal here at DJBooth to give every artist not named Tyga a fair shake, so I set out to really get to know Miller. I asked Yoh - my human Wikipedia for all things Hotlanta - for the rundown. He told me how he was more known for being half of the duo WDNG Crshrs with TheCoolisMac. He told me about a Quentin Miller show he went to the day the ghostwriting allegations broke. He told me nothing that convinced me one way or another of Miller’s legitimacy or talent. It was up to me. So I listened.
I tried to give him a fair shake, I really did, but over and over I found myself not listening to Miller, the young talented ATL native, but listening for Drake lines. When I listened to songs like “Made It Happen” all I could think about was Drake. In the rare instance that the Drake alarm wasn’t rining, I was underwhelmed (see “Cease And Desist…”). For me, listening to Miller was more of a mystery adventure than a listening session.
I wasn't listening to find new workout music or that new smoking song, I wasn’t combing through his Soundcloud to get a grip on who he was, I wanted to find the bar that would serve as the answer to the great ghostwriting controversy. Maybe he developed the style and Drake popularized it, maybe Quentin really is just another Drake clone who was inspired by the sessions he did with Drizzy. Inspiration is a two-way street, maybe they inspired each other.
Which came first, Quentin or the egg?
It might not be fair to Quentin, but this is the music industry, there is no fair. Drake is Drake. He is a force, an immovable, unstoppable object, a tornado that swallows up whatever comes across, spitting back out nothing but scattered debris.
Can Quentin Miller overcome the impossible? Can he build a career out of the debris of the ghostwriting label? Can he shed the Drake-association and grow to be recognized as an artist in his own right? My gut says no, at this point Drake is just too much of a force and first impressions are exceedingly hard to overcome, but I’m not the gatekeeper of who makes it and who doesn’t. There are artists I never expected to catch on that have done just that, especially in Atlanta. Dances, turn-ups, and trap stars who are lost on me but resonate with others. Maybe after a while, Miller can forge his own, Drake-less path when we really stop caring.
Lucky for me, my reputation wore off.
He's still hungover, and he might stay that way forever.