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Joe Budden Doesn’t Need Drake to Reply to Win the War

Can you lose a battle when the other guy never even acknowledges that you're swinging at him? We're about to find out.

In the past two months, Joe Budden has slammed Drake on his podcast, released not one, but two diss tracks running over eleven minutes in total, and written an open letter to Drizzy on Instagram

Drake did nothing. Well, Budden seemed to think that "4 AM in Calabassas" was loaded with mine-shaft level deep subliminals aimed in his direction, but in reality, Drake did nothing. 

And so Joe Budden continued to needle Drake on Twitter, over the weekend letting loose a series of very direct and pointed tweets which he's since deleted, I'm assuming because they began to carry with them a waft of desperation: 

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In response, so far Drake has done...nothing. No songs, no tweets, not even a hint of reply on Instagram. Nothing. 

On the surface, Budden seems to have similarly miscalculated his campaign against Drizzy. As we learned from the Meek Mill debacle, in the year of our Lord 2016 rap beef has very little to do with the music and everything to do with marketing, and there's not an artist alive, period, with a better marketing machine behind him than Drake. Meek showed up to the fight with some raps and a cover his cousin did on Photoshop, Drake showed up with music, a festival, a social media campaign, graphic designers, a radio promotions team, and merchandise.

While clearly much, much more media-savvy than Meek Mill, Budden seems to have made a similar miscalculation. While Drake clearly saw the leverage he could gain in going after Meek - don't forget, Meek had the number one album in the country at the time and was dating superstar Nicki Minaj - it's hard to see what Drake would have to gain from responding to Budden, or even acknowledging his existence in any way.

Best case scenario for Drizzy...what? Does he somehow manage to drop ten minutes of straight bars that convince some hardcore rap fans who weren't fans of his anyway to not hate him quite so much? And the worst-case scenario for Drizzy, he takes time and attention away from pushing one of the most popular albums in music history to shine an even brighter spotlight on a rapper who hasn't had a top ten album in thirteen years.

This isn't about rap, of course, I'd love to see something actually go down on the mic between Drake and Budden, mostly because Budden would destroy him, this is about PR strategy, this is about maneuvering through the proverbial game, and right now Drake's looking like a blue whale too big to even feel the barnacles attached to him. Can you lose a battle when the other guy never even acknowledges that you're swinging at him? We're about to find out. 

Except...if Budden seems crazy for taking on Drake, he might just be crazy like a fox. Using the same logic that makes it a bad idea for Drake to even seem like he knows Joe is alive, ultimately this feels like all upside for Joe. (Cost-benefit analysis works in rap too.) Before Joe launched his attack, what was his worst-case scenario? That people would ignore him? That Drake fans who weren't buying his albums anyway would dislike him? Unlike Meek, Joe wasn't interested in having Drake jump on a radio single regardless, so no real loss there. And best case scenario he'd generate more headlines, and listens to his music, than he'd done otherwise in years, an idea that he somewhat confusingly seems to refute and prove in alternating tweets. 

I may sometimes underestimate his music, but I'll never underestimate Joe Budden's intelligence, and right now it feels like he's out-maneuvering most of hip-hop media. If Drake ignores him into infinity Budden will have lost this battle—even the fiercest fire gets extinguished if you don't give it any oxygen—but when you realize the war he's fighting isn't against Drake, it's against irrelevance, he's already won.



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