To celebrate his 30th birthday, Drake gifted his fans with some new music during a special edition of OVO SOUND Radio. Of the new songs, the one that has garnered the most attention is “Two Birds, One Stone” where the 6 God takes aim a longtime nemesis Pusha T and newfound rival Kid Cudi.
Drake’s longstanding feud with Pusha T is nothing new. These two have been taking shots at one another for what feels like an eternity without actually engaging in a tangible feud. The Cudi beef, on the other hand, came out of left field when Cudi took both Drake and Kanye West to task on Twitter. Cudi lambasted both for being “fake,” “corny” and having ghostwriters. It seemingly came out of nowhere and likely blindsided Drake.
As sensitive as we make Drake out to be, the Canadian lacks sympathy for those that cross him and he launched one hell of a poisonous lyrical dart at Cudi in retaliation that set social media on fire.
Drake was referring to Cudi’s recent announcement that he had checked himself into rehab in order to deal with severe anxiety and depression.
Did Drake cross the line by being insensitive to something that has been an unspoken truth among men? Better yet, are there rules to engagement when dissing another emcee, especially when the other emcee started it?
This is tricky topic because what’s a war with rules? But society has changed immensely with the advent of social media where battles can be ignited on twitter and the degrees of separation between you and your favorite (or least favorite) rapper has decreased tremendously. What you wouldn’t have known about a celebrity – such as their current mental state – is now public information that can be shared in a matter of moments. No need to speculate if that celeb has mental health issues when it can be confirmed by a simple scouring of their Twitter or Facebook.
Also, as a society we have become a lot more sensitive. Things such as homophobia and misogyny in hip hop weren’t as frowned upon back in the day as they are today. Cracking a line about rapper’s sexuality was par for the course as was anything that would ultimately degrade the opponent. “Shaming” has also become a thing where just about everything is off limits when it comes to ridicule. And it is only magnified by the sheer amount of mean guys and gals who traverse social media as trolls looking to ridicule their target and strip them of their raw emotions.
Why is this important?
Well, once upon a time, rap battles didn’t really have rules. Nothing was considered a low blow because the general public had no idea what would be considered low. We weren’t privy to personal information so diss records were relegated to mere speculation. Rappers regularly assumed their opponents had health issues and questioned their sexuality without knowing the truth. For better or worse, we’ve evolved and tolerance for the isms outside of racism are lower than ever.
We certainly cringed when Tupac barked the following at Prodigy of Mobb Deep:
Nothing Eminem dropped on the Marshall Mathers LP would fly today. Go listen to “Criminal” and see how you feel about that song today. Hell, go back and listen to Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun,” which is essentially a song about sharing your girl with the fellas. Yup. Not today. Ask Nate Parker.
We’ve evolved as people and littering your rhymes with homophobic slurs and rampant misogyny won’t get you far. Still, did Drake deserve all the criticism for taking a shot at Cudi’s mental health issues? After all, Cudi opened Pandora’s Box with his Twitter rant. All Drake did was respond, right?
But there is such a thing as “too far.” Remember how we all collectively exhaled “Aw, come on!” when Jay Z said he left condoms in Nas’ baby seat? Too far. But that was against an able bodied emcee. The saying “don’t kick a man when he’s down” applies here more than anything else.
Once Cudi admitted to his depression and anxiety issues, Drake could have squashed this. Even if he felt that Cudi was a meddlesome douchebag who called him out for little to no reason despite the fact that Drake popped up in the “Pursuit Of Happiness” video years ago. But you can chalk that up to Cudi’s mental state and Drake should have been wise enough to be the bigger man and excuse himself from any rap battle involving and individual who is seeking help.
Ultimately, there are rules to rap beef and Drake certainly crossed the line when it was unnecessary. Instead of being the “Diss me and you’ll never hear a reply for it” rapper, he’s been feeling himself and wastes no time engaging with anyone who calls him out. His bravado should be applauded. Ultimately, we should have been questioning whether Pusha T is going to take the safety off his lyrical firearm and get at Drake rather than questioning whether Drake’s diss of Cudi was of bad taste.
As a sidebar, Drake isn’t wrong to be upset with Cudi’s attempt to slander his character for no reason above ego and jealousy. But his approach was out of order. Even if he thought Cudi’s declaration was a copout for his shenanigans than a real cry for help, Drake’s shouldn’t have wasted his time on this. He already made his point when you look at who is relevant and who is upset with their status in the rap game.
But mental health is something the African American community has struggled with for decades. Our failure to admit when something is wrong – even though we tend to over-diagnose by using medical terms as a plea rather than an admission – is something that should be taken seriously. And Drake should take note from Kanye West in how to handle this. Who knows what Kanye will do when he sees Cudi again, but best believe that he’s above Cudi’s vitriolic tweets.
That’s how you win the battle. By not battling at all.