The Bitch In You Part II: Common Vs. Drake


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.  

This happened.

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.

Why you mad, though?

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.

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  1. I think Common made “Sweet” for the same reasons Jay-Z made “D.O.A.” Not to necessarily call anyone out by name but to address his concerns with the direction his artform is headed in general. The shoe fit Drake and he’s wearing it all too proudly now. Drake should’ve kept his mouth shut on this one, he shrugs off Jeezy and Pusha and then comes back at Common?! Big mistake.

  2. There is an old pop song “video killed the radio star” by a British band called The Buggles that explains exactly how i feel about this mc/rapper/popstar folly that is hip hop. Fact of the matter is that we were in a much
    better place musically when we had to struggle to find rap on mtv outside of “yo, mtv raps” and when u rarely saw ANYONE of color on vh1.

    Im baffled why Common would even address Drake. I’m not the biggest Drake (or young money) fan but I take his music for what it is–pop. It’s germane to a heavyweight calling out a featherweight; everyone and anyone who is remotely knowledgeable about the game knows how that fight will end. Delusional stans excluded.

    Common and MCs of his caliber have a craft that they hone and continue to work on without too much concern for number of units moved. Music is everything to them… Whereas these ‘soft rappers’ see the rap/hip hop game like a hustler sees drugs–as just a means to make money. Fck a key gimme those 16 bars. Meanwhile Common Sense’s ” i use to love H.E.R.” is still so very relevant.

    But, eh, what do i know? I’m just an 80 baby.

  3. Being born in ’90 I agree that most young cats have no clue about what makes hip-hop, hip-hop…Personally I prefer 87-95 hip-hop over 90% of the music out today. With that being said, Common is a legend in the game. The fact that he took the time out to throw Drake a little constructive criticism should humble Aubrey..make him try and grow based on that. But we all know he’s just going to put out some confectionary sugar coated, stripper-glitter laced track about how he’s the best and Common’s too old and tired to save 100 strippers and a side bitch. No respect in the game these days (-___-)

  4. Interesting. I can definitely see why a younger crowd would disagree with you concerning Drakes longevity and ability to craft a classic. I mean, pop/rap is all that they know, and all that they are being fed. Common is the type of rapper that can do introspective (like water for chocolate), somewhat contemporary (Be), or step completely outside the box and make it work (Electric circus). Drake will always be a passable two trick pony. Rapping about the high life, then rapping about why he hates it. For me, I’m happy to see one of the most solid men in the game go after the one guy everyone is kissing ass to in order to get on the radio. Good read. And rememeber Drake, Comm went after Ice Cube, when he WASNT a family movie B list actor.

  5. Word. Problem is, a lot of parents didn’t do a good job of putting these children up on good music dating back to Motown or before. They have no basis for understanding timeless music so the disposable is all they are handed and all they see value in. It’s okay. In five years, they’re not gonna be spinning Take Care and look back and see how flash in the pan all the shit they’re listening to now is.

  6. They’re all boring. I grew up with hip hop and lost interest over a decade ago. This guy and whoever he’s talking about bring nothing that I care about or relate to.

  7. I agree with Common’s sentiment to some degree but find it strange that he’d be the messenger. In earlier years I caught flak for digging Common from less enlightened brethren. And don’t let me bring up the crochet pants, lol.

  8. The comments are interesting here but I think people need to get a little real here. The whole idea that Common is some underground “street” rapper for purists is just an inflated very uncritical interpretation of his music. Common has made plenty of joints that could easily be described as boderline pop music. He made a song with the Jonas Brothers, for instance. To me, his best album was Ressurection and ever since then, its been like waiting for a return to that bar he set back then. “Be” might be the closest he got but I cant help feeling like that is really a Kanye album. I also think it is debateable whether “Take Care” will be listened too, in years from now. My feeling is that it is quite good and will be listened to. Drake is just getting started so who knows what his legacy will be. Drake has only dropped 2-3 albums and he already has much better consistency than Common. At this point in Common’s career, he was still pretty non-mainstream. On top of everything, Drake has done what Common has never really done successfully – Drake has challenged the status quo of the music and changed the genre, churning out imitators. Common tried this with Electric Circus but never came close. But Drake’s background, sing-song style are not supposed to be hip-hop but he has been able to push a new approach. Like it or hate it, Drake is different and his approach to hip-hop is different and this is why people hate him (aside his looks, his background etc.). Its easy to try to dismiss Drake as some illegitimate pop sensation ala Ja Rule, Fabulous, Mase rather than what he really is – love or hate it, somewhere inbetween both deep/interesting music and straight pop. A song like “Marvin’s Room” might sell alot but its not just absurd and non-though-provoking. Drake probably has more in common with Kanye West or Common himself than Ja Rule, who made the extreme of completely ridiculous pop music. His songs are much better written than typical pop music – any honest musician/artist would admit it. I dont put Common’s criticism quite on par with Jay-Z’s “Autotune” diss. Jay-Z was classy about it – he had some autotune on his own album and in the video, he wasnt looking in the camera like he was in a childish fight. I put Common’s diss in the category of De La Soul when they made “Stakes is High” against the current state of hip-hop (the “italian references” ala Ghostface/Raekwon), OGC, Jeru or the Roots (“Do What They Do”) when they called out Biggie/Puffy etc. Common is much more in line with that kind of stance if you ask me which to me, is an approach which is against innovation. Im old enough to realize that while I loved those songs back in the day, innovation is braver, more difficult and needs to be respected. Calling Drake “sweet”, just seems so obvious, who cares? Everyone knows Drake is soft, even Drake knows this. Common called him names in angry manner that seems personal. So while I respect Common generally, Drake to me is obvious underdog here. Im leaning that way.

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