At the time, Cudi’s Tweet-storm came off as an egotistical rant rooted in jealousy. But a few weeks later, the lonely stoner announced that he had checked himself into rehab. Given the context of his past issues with depression, his sudden lashing out at his two closest emo-rap peers looks more like a cry for help than serious threat to their thrones.
Kanye immediately rebuked Cudi’s diss when it happened, demanding that Cudi show more respect. His stern response may have influenced Cudi’s sudden retreat. But Drake waited to address Cudi. He finally responded today, with a subtle shot on his new track “Two Birds.”
“I like your old shit, but wasn’t in love with the latest / You were the Man on the Moon, now you just go through your phases.” – Drake
Some on social media are upset with Drake because they feel the bar is insensitive to individuals with mental health issues. Charlamagne was quick to point out the hypocrisy of calling a rap diss “too far” considering the scathing disses of hip-hop’s past. He argued that if Tupac can make fun of Prodigy’s sickle-cell anemia and be a beloved icon, we can’t be mad at Drake. But we are in different times.
Twenty years after “Hit ‘Em Up,” the reckless talk that fueled the flames of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.’s deadly feud isn’t cool. Would PC young fans and corporate sponsors of today be surprised by the abundance of misogyny, homophobia and violence in the lyrics of mainstream stars like Ice Cube, Nas and Common? At some point, hip-hop became too mature for joning and too sensitive for schoolyard disrespect. And Drake should know that better than anyone.
Drake made it cool to be sensitive. He followed Kanye’s lead, and studied Phonte and Cudi’s blueprints to create the emotional hip-hop that’s become rap’s mainstream sound of the 2010s. That’s why it’s so ironic that he is being called out for his insensitivity. This is the same Drake that played a disabled teenager on Degrassi. Who used to avoid conflict under the credo, “diss me and you’ll never hear a reply for it.”
Drake charmed us by playing the humble nerd who studied the game to a T. But the bigger he gets, the more he’s starting to look like a bully abusing his power. Ever since he beat up Meek Mill in front of the whole school, he’s quicker to throw his weight around. But all the flexing might turn off listeners who fell in love with the nice guy version of Aubrey.
Considering hip-hop’s history of disrespect, Drake’s “phases” bar was mild at best. It’s not nearly as insensitive as Troy Ave’s jabs at Captial Steez’s mental health issues (Ave caught flak for joking about his suicide in a diss to Steez’s friend Joey Bada$$), and Drake can always say he was only clapping back to defend his honor.
Charlamagne is right, Drake’s bar was far from “too far” given hip-hop’s past. But Drake isn’t playing by the rules of the past. And he can’t expect to benefit from new school rules that allow ghostwriting and reckless emoting without considering the new boundaries he helped set. Drake made hip-hop so soft, even his suburban barbs are too hard for the culture. Now, Drizzy has to face the mob of moody millennials he helped mold.
PHOTO CREDIT: Splash, Twitter