On this week’s “Stray Shots,” we ask why Kanye considers Drake such stern competition, and if Method Man targeting Hip Hop publications has some veracity.
Once upon a time in a universe far, far away, HipHopDX used to host blogs. Through Meka, Brillyance, Aliya Ewing and others, readers got unfiltered opinions on the most current topics in and beyond Hip Hop. After a few years, a couple redesigns and the collective vision of three different Editors-In-Chief, blogs are back. Sort of. Since our blog section went the way of two-way pagers and physical mixtapes, Twitter, Instagram and Ustream have further accelerated the pace of current events in Hip Hop. Rappers beef with each other 140 characters at a time, entire mixtapes (and their associated artwork) can be released via Instagram, and sometimes these events require a rapid reaction.
As such, we’re reserving this space for a weekly reaction to Hip Hop’s current events. Or whatever else we deem worthy. And the “we” in question is myself, Andre Grant and Ural Garrett. Collectively we serve as HipHopDX’s Features Staff. Aside from tackling stray topics, we may invite artists and other personalities in Hip Hop to join the conversation. Without further delay, here’s this week’s “Stray Shots.
Is Drake Kanye West’s Only True Competition At The Moment?
Andre: It’s interesting that Kanye´sees Drake as this “great sparring partner,” because there are a ton of other emcees that are amazing at what they do. And several are from the new class. J. Cole, of course, is someone I can see a College Dropout era Kanye in. There’s Kendrick Lamar, of course, who continues to push the envelope in terms of emcees rapping from the core of their being. But the reason why Kanye views Drake as a true adversary is because Drizzy has achieved a cult of personality that escapes the other two artists I just mentioned. And he’s accompanied that aura with wild amounts of success. An entire album on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same damn time? Such feats are built for all-time greats. Megastars at the peak of their mastery of craft. But what’s also hidden there in the subtext is that Kanye, I think, believes Drake to actually be better than him at some things.
This is a tough thing for Yeezy to accept. I mean we’re talking about the guy who named an albumYeezus. So to consider the Canadian crooner/emcee to be his equal is astonishing. Drake took that808’s & Heartbreak thing by the throat and dragged it into the universal consciousness the way Kanye intended. He’s on the pulse of everyday talk, and just slightly ahead of the curve when it comes the zeitgeist’s concepts. Drake’s cultivated a sound, and while Kanye has actively tried to curve such a thing — changing drastically or not so drastically with each album, but changing — Drake has settled into slow, evolutionary growth with each new record. So, yeah, Drake is, for Kanye, his only competition at the moment because no one else has been able to accomplish, in his own style, the same kind of popularity, success and consistent musical fucking excellence that Drake has been dishing out over the past five years. The 2010s ain’t Drake’s decade as far as the first half goes just yet. Ye´’s got MBDTF under his belt, you dig? But it’s close, dammit. And that’s enough to wake Kanye’s ass up and get him back in the studio. So, I’m grateful to Drake, and of course I’m looking forward to both their albums with bated breath.
Ural: In terms of lyricism and general entertainment within the realm of Hip Hop, Drizzy may be the closest Yeezy has in terms of competition. Despite of how many may feel about the Chicago producer/emcee, his actual creative skill set places him in a special club most artists never reach regardless of genre lines. Sure, Drake has his C. Papi production alias but that’s seemed more like a musical curiosity than anything significant. West calling Drake a “great sparring partner” may have to do with status within the game in opposed to actual abilities. This has been a long time coming considering the cold-war that rumored to be both A tier artists. Remember when 40 mentioned that West allegedly cursed him out over drum samples(following a response from Boi 1da) or the subtle jabs between G.O.O.D. Music vs. Young Money? Looks like the two have grown to have unadulterated respect for each other and Hip Hop is much better in result.
Then again, the two have enjoyed a weird passive aggressive relationship going so far back as Yeezus’ direction the failed video for OVO’s first hit “Best I Never Had.” Of course, West repaid the favor in the form of his production on “Show Me A Good Time” from Thank Me Later. Drake even was slated to appear on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy single “All Of The Lights” which featured everyone from Kid Cudi to Rihanna when it was originally titled “Ghetto University.” Even recently, West mentioned during an interview with Zane Lowe that So Help Me God single “Wolves” featuring Vic Mensa and Sia originally began as a joint project with the Six God. There isn’t anyone selling like Drake and Kanye knows it. On the flip side, there hasn’t been an artists within music whose reach is as far as Kanye and Drake knows it. It’s really no different than Kanye’s transition from within Jay Z’s shadow. Like Hov admitted to gracefully falling back during Watch The Throne, Yeezy is openingly acknowledging Drake’s greatness. The future sounds excellent.
Does Method Man Have A Point About Hip Hop Publications?
Ural: Lets be clear, if I never get the chance to interview Method Man during my time here at DX or afterwards, that’s totally fine. Especially now considering the caliber of films he’s done so far haven’t been up to snuff. Hell, the Huffington Post rant where he almost said DX’s name was focused around a subpar Adam Sandler comedy (like those are important anymore). That said film, The Cobbler, currently sits at a 21 percent on Metacritic. For more information on Meth’s acting career score of 32 percent thanks to box office classics like Meet The Spartans and Soul Plane, click here. Not going to hate too much, How High is stoner classic. Music wise, that’s a whole other story of irrelevance. Sans collaborative albums Blackout 2 and Wu-Massacre, The Wu-Tang emcee hasn’t had a relevant solo project since Tical 2000: Judgement Day. Keeping in mind XXL’s demographic, they weren’t going to care too much about The Cobbler. Therefore, it’s fairly easy to see why Ms. Miranda Johnson’s one angle for an interesting story was the Once Upon A Time In Shaolin album.
Something sounds fishy when a journalist has more information on an album than the person who’s actually on the album. Any artists with real media training would have simply dismissed the newly received information until it could be verified. Meth choose to speak before he thought about the consequences and wants to blame everyone but himself. Calling the same publications from XXL and Vibe to DX, who’ve kept his career somewhat relevant throughout the years “Bloodsuckers Of The Culture,” isn’t going to win him any brownie points with the mainstream press. It’s cute of him to single out Hip Hop press when every mainstream publication including Pitchfork and The Guardian drew from the exact same story.
Let’s be completely honest for once. Blaming Vibe for causing the East Coast vs. West Coast drama is so elementary considering the role COINTELPRO and institutionalized forces played in both murders. Was Johnny Blaze right about Hip Hop publications? Considering they covers artists who wouldn’t normally make most mainstream publications, they’ve done nothing but document the culture for better or for worse. For example, DX gave Meth’s last release 4:21 The Day After a 4.0 out of 5. Can anyone wonder what Huffington Post gave it?
Andre: Was Vibe drumming up the beef between East Coast and West Coast emcees to all our misfortunes? Maybe, kinda? They named it. They called it “East vs. West” right there on the cover with Biggie and Puffy. Right there, for $2.95, they stirred up a hornets nest that’s continued to sting Hip Hop since. I don’t blame them, though, and here’s why: if you read the actual story, it isn’t incendiary at all. Puffy is reticent (and arrogant) but reticent none the less. He laments only being known for beefs despite all his other accomplishments. Calls Tupac a “nice guy from New York.” Biggie sat back on his leather sofa and exclaimed, “I’m still thinking this nigga’s my man.” You can peruse the entire story here at your leisure.
Meth’s not the first person to talk that culture vulture talk, though. Dame Dash had just about all of that to say last year when he accused Lyor Cohen and Joie Manda of drumming up beef to sell records instead of helping the rivals squash things like men and move on. But he didn’t outright accuse Hip Hop publications for being the bad guy. And maybe he was just wishing Big and ‘Pac didn’t both die in a hail of bullets. I wish they didn’t either.
But blaming one party is a bit one sided considering all the facts involved. Meth would be better off, I think, focusing on why he wasn’t kept in the loop about an album that he was a part of. He also says he doesn’t care for Cilvaringz so there’s that. Amongst families there’s always beef, of course. So here’s to hoping that he comes around to talking to the Hip Hop press that largely considers him one of the low key GOATs of our time.</p>
Andre Grant is an NYC native turned L.A. transplant that has contributed to a few different properties on the web and is now the Features Editor for HipHopDX. He’s also trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot. Follow him on Twitter @drejones.
Ural Garrett is an Los Angeles-based journalist and HipHopDX’s Senior Features Writer. When not covering music, video games, films and the community at large, he’s in the kitchen baking like Anita. Follow him on Twitter @Uralg•