And now… this is happening.”
That’s something I say in my day-to-day life. Nine times out of ten, I’m using it to describe something I’ve just seen, heard or experienced that’s a bit off center, more than unusual or downright weird.
With life as a Hip-Hop journalist being what it is, it’s become a quote used with catchphrase like frequency. I mean lets face it… you guys are online as much as I am, if not more. Between the things that rappers say in their songs, show on their socials and do in their daily lives, the music industry is good for at least eight of these a day.
But my brain kicked my catchphrase into overdrive once I sat down at my laptop, plugged in my favorite headphones and pressed play on Joe Budden’s diss to Drake; "Making A Murderer Part 1."
Now before we get started, understand that I’m not going to spend a lot of time on backstory.
I will say that most of this comes from Joe’s rather harsh but honest critique of Drakes Views album. Now, was this something off-center, out of sorts or in any way weird for Joe Budden?
Nah, not really. And if you’ve been keeping up with Joe’s “I’ll Name This Podcast Later” podcast is pretty familiar about the friction brewing between the two. But if you haven’t or decided never to look it up, it’s going to seem as if this diss just came out of the sky. That’s being the case, I’ll assure you it didn’t and we can move on. Especially since that’s not what’s really important here anyway.
Beef on wax is pretty common in Hip-Hop but over the last few years, the fans of the genre have gotten pretty used to subliminal shots from their favorite artists instead of the direct call out technique most might prefer. The strategy being to diss another artist in a subtle way instead of out-right so when/if the target responds directly, the iron-clad defense of “I wasn’t even talking about you”, followed by the all too familiar “You aint important enough for me to diss” or “I must be on your mind” or “he’s just trying to start a beef to get attention” or any of the thousands of verbal deflections rappers who throw stones and hide their hands like to employ can be used. The subtle jab or “sneak diss” can also be ignored by the intended target, who pretends they didn’t hear it and thereby allowing the attacker to claim a silent victory.
We who study and dissect Hip-Hop from the wordsmiths of the game often observe the undercover jabs from the likes of Jay, Kendrick, Pusha, Drake and others as all involved look to keep things political and none want to legitimize their opponent by acknowledging a beef or be seen as a hater.
The “and now… this is happening” moment came to me after the song went off. After hearing a scathing diss from very accomplished and highly respected MC (including from the targets own words) Who decided to jump over the political correctness and attack a subliminal with a direct shot.
Knowing that the casual Hip-Hop listener or Drake stan will attempt to dismiss this as a cry for attention or label the track a shot by an unworthy opponent based on sales and commercial popularity, Joe dug into Drake line after line anyway.
The diss wasn’t about sales or money, the two crutches most causal fans jump to in defense of their favorites. This will break down into two different categories; bars and truth. It’s the place most modern MC’s aren’t familiar with but in a rhyme war with a guy like Budden, it’s the only place Drake can win. He can’t out spend or out swag or out profile his opponent. This time, Drake has to out RAP him. And while Drake has avoided directly responding to more challenges than he’s accepted, we do have Charged Up & the Grammy nominated Back To Back. Two shiny examples of what a Drake rebuttal looks like and proof that he can go there when he wants.
My “and now… this is happening” moment came when I realized, the easy exits like: Joe’s a hater, Joe’s broke, Joe’s looking for attention” Joe’s just trying to promote himself” have all been closed. Those excuses will only work on casual listeners who never looked beneath the surface of the slick-talk thats been Drakes second language these last few years. The tactics that have kept him safe from head on collisions with the likes of Pusha-T and Kendrick Lamar won’t really work here and the excuses to avoid it will only result in a loss in the eyes of all that know.
And now that I’ve put the headphones down and had my “and now… this is happening” moment, there’s only one question left….
What happens how?