Last week, I reviewed Common’s latest album The Dreamer/The Believer and mentioned a track called “Sweet”, which goes directly at the jugulars of “soft” rappers. Of course, the blogosphere and myself made plenty of jokes alluding to the fact that Common didn’t have to do Drake like that, as the Louboutin seemed to fit in terms of the song’s sentiments. Jokes became reality as Common himself confirmed that yes, Drake could take offense to the track as well as any other rappers he labels as soft. Personally, I thought of a few rappers that could have taken offense to the song. It seems that these days, there are too many MCs trying to be singers and too many singers trying to be MCs. That isn’t to say that you can’t walk the line, but to say you’re the greatest or dopiest doing it when there are clearly greater acts in both categories is off-base and deserves calling out. It takes an established MC who isn’t worried about the politics or the possibility of working with the more popular artists in the game.
Of course, the Drake stans’ first plan of action is to point out Common’s age (39), as if that has any bearing on anything. If anything, the fact that Common, like The Roots, can still release a critically-acclaimed album after so long in the game without pandering to mainstream audiences by a bunch of mismatched guest appearances and keeping up with the trends, speaks to longevity and a hard-working MC’s ability to remain relevant by staying true to his core audience. The problem with many of the 90’s-babies calling themselves hip-hop fans today is that they came along long after hip-hop had merged with pop. They’re not used to the word-of-mouth classic LP. Disposable and current wins the day and some of them don’t even realize that a lot of what they call “hot” today will not be something they can whip out five years from now and still have a connection to. Damn shame when hip-hop gets to a point when the youth claim a rapper is no longer relevant solely based on age and don’t commend the ability to keep making solid music after all these years, whether it’s their taste or not.
As Common admitted on Shade 45 with Sway (see interview below), I also must say that Drake is a talented individual: not the best singer and not the best rapper, in my opinion, but he has a good ear for the contemporary and knows how to create what will sell. That being said, if we’re talking superlatives, in terms of “best” and “greatest” in this here rap game, longevity rules. The fact is, through all the faux sensitivity and crooning, Drake will never have the depth to make a “Retrospect For Life” or if we want to go back to Electric Circus, a “Come Close”. Drake has yet to achieve anything close to Like Water For Chocolate, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, or a Be and frankly I don’t see it in the cards. The depth is not there. I’m almost mad that Common even addressed the supposed beef, as an MC of Common’s caliber “calling out” Drake is puzzling, to say the least. While the younger set will say he’s “hating” or trying to get attention, it’s quite clear that Common is well aware his fans are cut from a different cloth than Drake fans and that “Sweet” is the result of certain things needing to be called out in the game and it takes an artist with some history in the game to see it and point it out eloquently…or to just kick in the door and let folks know what’s what.