It all started on July 21, 2015 when Meek Mill blew up Twitter because Drake didn’t tweet to promote Meek Mill’s latest album, “Dreams Worth More Than Money.” The drama seemed oddly familiar to the time Meek and Wale had a conflict when Wale didn’t tweet to promote Meek Mill’s first album, “Dreams and Nightmares.”
Throughout Meek’s Twitter rant, he claimed Drake used a ghostwriter for his verse on “R.I.C.O.,” which appeared on “Dreams Worth More Than Money.” Drake also appeared on Meek's mixtape, "Dreamchasers 2" on the song, "Amen." Meek continued at Drake on Twitter by calling him “fake” and said he didn’t want to trick his fans. After Meek erupted on Twitter, the Internet exploded, taking sides, making memes, forming opinions and adding fuel to the fire.
At that point, Drake seemed as if he wasn’t going respond to Meek Mill, but then he released, “Charged Up.” Drake started out by saying, “I’m honored that you think this is staged.” He continued to subtly drop little jabs at Meek Mill, but the highlight came when Drake said he’s “done do favors for people ‘cause it ain’t like I need the money I make off a feature.” On “Charged Up,” Drake also said that Meek Mill’s album were not selling well and that Meek had trouble “going gold.” It seemed that Drake spared Meek Mill. He only released a three-minute slow paced song with a few subtle shots at Meek Mill.
But Meek wouldn’t go away quietly. Meek went back to Twitter to respond to Drake’s “Charged Up.” He wrote, “Baby lotion soft….” and “I can tell he wrote that 1 tho….” But that wasn’t enough for Meek Mill. At his Pinkprint Tour set in Brooklyn, New York, Meek took to firing back at Drake by calling him fake for using a ghostwriter on his “R.I.C.O.” verse.
Next on the Meek-Drake timeline, came Drake’s “Back To Back.” On this diss track, Drake was a little less subtle about throwing shots at Meek. He said, “Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour? I know that you gotta be a thug for her. This ain’t what she meant when she told you to open up more. Yeah, trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers...” Drake touched on Meek’s relationship with Nicki Minaj and their tour together as well as Meek’s use of Twitter to express his feelings. He even addressed the ghostwriting controversy. On “Charged Up” Drake said, “This for ya’ll that think that I don’t write enough. They just mad ‘cause I got the Midas touch.”
Meek Mill fired right back with a diss track of his own called, “Wanna Know.” Laced with Jahlil Beats and Swizz Beatz production and an intro featuring the Undertaker’s walk up music, Meek started out by calling Drake a “fraud.” Meek really dug deep when he sampled a song that sounded like a drowned out version of “Know Yourself” by Quentin Miller, Drake’s alleged ghostwriter. We can hear Miller saying, “Running through the six with my woes; counting money, you know how it goes. All the real live forever, baby. And the fake get exposed.” Meek also referenced the Drake-Diddy fight over the "0-100" beat and compared the feud to Ja Rule and 50 Cent.
The Internet exploded after Meek’s “Wanna Know.” It seemed the majority thought Meek Mill’s response was weak. Many hip-hop websites gave Meek’s diss track a below-average rating. WWE superstar, the Undertaker also supposedly wasn’t too pleased with Meek Mill’s “Wanna Know.” At the beginning of Meek’s diss track, he used the Undertaker’s iconic entrance music. Apparently, TMZ reported that a spokesman for WWE said, “WWE takes its intellectual property rights very seriously, and we’re looking into the matter.” This picture has also been floating around the Internet:
It finally seems that this dispute has slowed down and come to an end for now. A$AP Rocky shared his thoughts on the Drake-Meek beef in an interview with MTV after his Lollapalooza set. He said, “Watching this was like watching the Super Bowl. I want to say thank you to Drake and Meek Mill because that’s good sportsmanship. I think Meek will be fine. I think he has a fan base of his own, and I think that at the end of the day, there had to be a loser in the outcome, and it was Meek. So it is what it is.” So is it over?
Maybe the real question to ask is, ‘was all of this necessary?’ I believe this Drake-Meek beef is similar to Deflate Gate in the NFL. Who cares? The Patriots still beat the Colts 45-7 in that playoff game, so it couldn’t have made that much of a difference. Someone may have helped Drake write his “R.I.C.O.” verse, but it was still dope. Drake and Meek Mill will continue to make good music, and that’s all that matters.
Some may claim that using a ghostwriter is a sin in hip-hop, but if the music is good, does it really matter? I totally understand that lyricism is the core of the hip-hop culture and I respect that, but I think artists should be able to use every tool he or she can to create the best possible music to tell their story.
There are many incidents of rappers rumored to have used ghostwriters, including Kanye West, Dr. Dre, Nas, Lil Wayne, Diddy and several others. Even Jon Bellion wrote the hook for Eminem and Rihanna’s “The Monster.” But when it comes down to it, I believe the artists, themselves, are the ones with the brains behind each song.
There is just no way that Drake used a ghostwriter for songs like, “You & The 6,” “From Time,” “Too Much,” “Over My Dead Body,” “Look What You’ve Done” and many other personal songs about Drake’s life. Drake’s music is emotional and relatable, which is why so many people love his music. He really does have the “Midas touch.”
The most intriguing part of this saga came when Lupe Fiasco took to Instagram to weigh in on the Drake-Meek beef. He wrote, “The Haunting. A Letter Part 1 of 2. To rappers from a rapper...simply write your own rhymes as much as you can if you are able. Ghostwriting, or borrowing lines, or taking suggestions from the room has always been in rap and will always be in rap. It is nothing to go crazy over or be offended about unless you are someone who postures him or herself on the importance of authenticity and tries to portray that quality to your fans or the public at large. Then we might have a problem. Some of the most pivotal moments in rap have been ghostwritten verses. This leads to a bigger point. Rapping is not an easy thing to do. It's takes years of work and trial and error to master some of its finer points. Respect from other MC's comes in many formats. Sales, live performances, realness etc. but the one thing that is the most important is the raps themselves at least in the eyes of other serious rappers. The phrase "I'm not a rapper" gets thrown around as if it's a badge of honor. And that's fine. If rap is a side hustle for you or just a come up then by all means may the force be with you. But I know a lot of MC's where rap is the first love and the first thing they think about when they wake up and the last thing they think about when they go to sleep. Rappers who pursue the art form with this level of intention may not become rich and famous off selling their raps to a wide audience but that has never been an accepted metric to begin with in terms of quality or level of skill. The vast majority of rappers will never sell 100 records in their lifetimes let alone millions. But that's not the point, the point is that what pursuing the craft gives us in terms of the intangibles is something that record sales or fame could never represent. We achieve a mastery of language and poetics that competes on the highest levels of discourse across the entirety of human history. We express ourselves creatively and attain a sense of liberation and self-esteem via this sacred mode of creation and communication…” and “Part 2 Of 2. Modern Radio and the commercial realm of music has injured rap. It set up ambiguous rules and systems for success that don't take into consideration the quality and skill of the rappers craft. It redefined rap as just being a beat driven hook with some words in between and an entire generation has surrendered to chasing the format instead of chasing the art form. While mastering any format should be the pursuit of any self-respecting rapper including the commercial format it must be kept clear that it is just one of many formats and that you should strive to master all of them. The art form is kept alive and progressive in the activities of the tens of thousands of rappers around the world who are everyday trying to think of that next witty bar. Trying to put that crazy verse together while at work. Trying to find that word that rhymes with catapult so they can finish off that vivid story rap about their childhood. Meek Mill struck a nerve accusing Drake of having a ghostwriter and the entire rap world reacted on all sides of the fence because rap is alive. It's active and it feels. Its rules and traditions are vibrant and responsive. I enjoy both these brothers music and find inspiration and appreciation from both of them. I remember being in Toronto at Goodfoot years ago and it was a stack of CD's on the counter and the guy behind the counter was like "Lupe you gotta take this CD. It's my mans mixtape." I didn't really pay it any mind I took it to the car and looked it over and just kind of set it aside focused on other things. I vividly remember saying "what kind of rap name is Drake?" The rest is history. Once while in Philly I went to do an interview in a shabby and very hood basement studio complex. I peeked into one of the rooms and it was this tall kid with his shirt off bouncing up and down in the booth with an energy that was electric. I gave him my regards. He gave them back. I think I mentioned something about him cutting his dreads. As I left I remember him rapping something about being a boss. The rest is history. At the end of the day, for better or worse, rap is alive even if some of its greatest moments are written by ghosts.”
I agree with Lupe. For better or for worse, hip-hop is not dead and some of its greatest moments have been and will continue to be written by ghosts. Everyone will move past this drama and focus on what’s really important: the music.