The clash of two rappers was once like two boxers entering the ring - a competition where the winner would walk away with a championship belt made out of respect, pride, and knowing that word of their victory would travel and echo across the world.
Today, lyrical titans battling, exchanging diss records like head and body blows, doesn't come close to resembling Ali vs. Frazier. The days of fans playing the role of spectator, listening to songs for every jab, hook, and haymaker, appear to be through. Now in the age of social media we have Twitter fingers and Instagram thumbs. That's it. Previews of diss songs in Vines are now tactics of war; everything but entering the booth.
Enter Joe Budden, who recently entered the booth to record “Making A Murder (Part 1),” a diss track that aims to bait Drake into the ring where the two can box.
So, how did we get here? Everything started when Joe offered up his view on Views on his podcast. The episode went viral on Twitter causing a huge discussion about the album. His critical but honest review ultimately highlighted Drake’s lack of progression as an emcee, despite the potential to be much more. The critique appeared to catch the rapper’s ear, and a week later French Montana posted a clip of a new song featuring Drake where you can hear the rapper saying “Pump Pump It Up,” an obvious reference to Joe’s breakout single.
The untitled song has yet to be released but we did get Drake’s “4pm In Calabasas” and Joe was quick to point out the subliminals that were sent his way. Obviously Drake doesn’t take constructive criticism well. He reacted to something that didn’t warrant reaction. Now we’re here. After weeks of alluding, Budden finally dropped a six minute diss record that’s riddled with bars about Drake, with Jay and Meek catching a few strays in the flurry of bullets.
I’m not very fond of the beat, or the hook, but there are some very clever bars and witty lines that will have you running to Genius. Joe’s a veteran lyricist, a rapper who has been in this ring and knows how to throw a punchline. I should be excited about the possibility of Drake and Joe going toe to toe but I’m filled with dread just thinking about the debates, the think pieces, the memes, the dissection of everything that Drake does for the next few weeks. My dread is mostly due to this battle being based on Joe wanting Drake to rap again. He wants to bring out the rapper he knows Drake can be. It feels like something you would see in a movie script, manufactured drama. I understand that Joe wants to bring the spirit of competition back into the culture, baiting the biggest rapper in the world into a showdown, but then what? We get a few diss songs, write a few think pieces and Drake goes back to singing?
I love Joe’s passion for rapping, I love his passion for competition, but his passion to challenge Drake into a battle is something I can’t bring myself to be passionate about. It’s like someone yelling "Fight!" in the schoolyard and you rush over to witness two friends playfully slapboxing. You don't stick around and watch.
In the first few lines Joe raps, “Before we start, to the fans, I’m uncomfortable too, stuck in the booth feelin like y’all cause I got love for the dude.” He even plays a clip from an old encounter with Drake where he’s showering Budden with praise. It’s awkward hearing Joe talk about Drake calling him about girls, even sharing women. This could be viewed as the B-Rabbit tactic, bringing up key points before your opponent, but it just sounds like two bros falling out and showing screenshots to their timeline. Maybe they’ll be enemies, maybe they’ll be friends again, but does it really matter? Do we really care?
We are 28 days away from the anniversary of “Back to Back.” This date coincides with the next OVO fest, a line-up Drake recently released. If Drake is going to respond to Joe, which seems unlikely, it will be in the coming weeks. In the end I don’t see this battle as having a winner or a loser - not when the challenger just wants to see if the champion can knock him out. I know rap fans want to see a boxing match between two elite rappers, but this pairing won't deliver our dream bout. Maybe I’m just getting too old to get excited about two rappers battling over the fact that one rapper isn’t rapping.
Fans have never been able to dictate the kind of music our favorite artists make and I don’t believe Joe’s approach as a peer will force any real change in Drake.
By Yoh aka @Yoh31