Last night, after about a week and a half, Meek Mill finally responded to Drake with an actual diss track. Most of the reactions that I’ve seen within the last 12 hours or so seem to indicate that Meek has lost this first round. Personally, I was super underwhelmed by “Wanna Know”, a rambling diss track over an ominous production by Jahlil Beats and Swizz Beatz on which Meek seemed more concerned with showcasing his flow then going for Drake’s jugular. To me, an effective diss needs to lay out clear shots that connect immediately with listeners. About a minute into this song I knew this wasn’t it. It also didn’t help that the track arrived nearly two hours after it was supposed to, hyped up by Flex and Meek’s shooters as an undeniable kill shot.
The diss relies heavily on the accusation that Drake utilized a ghostwriter, relative unknown Quentin Miller, for many of the most popular tracks on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. It features samples from a reference track for “Know Yourself” that leaked minutes before Meek’s response showed up. In the aftermath Meek, his camp and his most vocal supporters seem pretty incredulous as to why the general public hasn’t accepted this as the “Ether” they clearly thought it was. What they failed to consider is many of Drake’s supporters could care less if he uses a ghostwriter. Meek basically tried to turn a battle with an international pop star into a referendum on lyrical integrity.
@2DopeBoyz when Flex spun it back it was like the last scene of the Sopranos.
— IG: NAHRIGHT (@nahright) July 31, 2015
I’m from the era where ghostwritten verses were a big no-no. In my opinion, it’s incredibly important that an MC write the words they put forth on records and this will always be the case. But things are different now. Many of the MCs we consider iconic have been revealed to have used ghostwriters at one time or another, including Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and Dr. Dre. We’ve mostly accepted this as fact and recategorized these artists into a separate class that still recognizes them as the legends they are, but which also places a big asterisk next to their names.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t troubled by those Drake reference tracks. But at the same time, I have to view them with a skeptical eye. I only know that’s Quentin Miller on those songs because Meek and Flex say it is. I wouldn’t have known Quentin Miller’s voice from the random rapper on Youtube and I still don’t think I could identify it out of context if I had to. For all I know, that could be Meek’s little homie from Philly repeating Drake’s bars.
But honestly, I don’t think that’s the case. While he acknowledged that they collaborated on IYRTITL, and he is in fact credited as a writer on some songs, Miller has denied he writes verses for Drake. It might have been some hooks, it may have been a bar here or there, or maybe what Meek is suggesting is true and he did pen full verses. We’ll probably never know the full extent of his contributions and honestly I’m fine with that. I have no problem recategorizing Drake with Kanye, Dre and Snoop, and I suspect he would be fine existing in that company for the rest of his career.
Additionally, there’s something to be said for artists who have the ability to do what Drake does. Kanye does it. Diddy built an empire on it. This is the ability to orchestrate amazing songs that turn into hits. They might take a hook from one writer, a theme from another guy and work with a few different producers along the way to craft an end product that connects with millions of people. It’s more executive producer than traditional MC as we’ve come to know that role, but it’s not easy and it’s not a talent everybody possesses. Certainly not most MCs.
No one is as talented as drake. It’s not worth my time. I need someone who understands song writing on a higher level…
— Noah Shebib (@OVO40) July 23, 2015
Sometimes that skill is used to recognize other great songs… Like in all forms of music… Except rap. — Noah Shebib (@OVO40) July 23, 2015
Assuming anybody has ever actually penned verses for Drake, I think that would put him firmly in the column Kanye currently sits atop. We know Kanye can write and I don’t believe for a second that anybody other than him and Drake wrote the majority of the verses that make up their respective catalogs. But Ye’s real genius lies in his ear for hits and attention to detail.
If I’m keeping it 100, I respect the hell out of Meek for his convictions on this subject. I completely understand where he’s coming from, I just feel like it doesn’t matter at this point. The market has spoken, and the market doesn’t care if Drake writes every single bar. It just doesn’t seem like the current generation of listeners has any fucks to spare on the topic, and even folks from my generation who like the kid from Toronto seem mostly unphased, happy to recategorize him as described above and keep it moving.
Where we stand now is, Drake’s “Back To Back” and the accompanying roll-out were just more entertaining than what Meek did. And that’s fine. Meek can still put out more records or take subliminal shots or whatever he feels he needs to do. There were a dozen funny, embarrasing things he could’ve said on that diss but he put all of his money on the ghostwriting angle and the dice didn’t fall in his favor.