Sunday, May 21, 2017, music star Drake came away with a record-breaking 13 BillBoard Awards including, top artist, top male artist, and best album for "Views." Breaking the record (12), which was held previously by Adele in 2012, is a major accomplishment for any artist regardless of genre. The Billboards are where artist gauge their success based on where they land on the charts.
Drake has a song that charted on the top 200 since the year 2009, I was in the tenth grade.
So when taking his success into account, and current status at the top of Hip-Hop specifically, I have to begin to think about when it's time to go after the giant that is Jay-Z.
Let me explain!
Now before Hov fans begin to jump on me with the famous excuse that he's richer than Drake, or that Jay is too big of a mega-star to go at it with Drake, I will first point that that he has traded subliminal shots with the Toronto emcee on a number of occasions, most recently on the DJ Khalid track "Shinning" where he rapped:
Many people have speculated if this was indeed a jab at Drake, but with his enthusiasm for summers and talking numbers, it's hard to think Hov didn't have that in mind when Jay spit this line. We all know Jay-Z is not to be trifled with in a battle, he plays chess while his opponent isn't even on the board. But in my opinion, he hasn't faced anyone with the public backing, and with a team Drake currently has in a long time.
Let's be real, Jay has been resting on his name for a long time now. People don't go at Jay-Z.....because he's Jay-Z. They're either threatened because their pockets are not as deep or don't have the lyrical ability to keep up in the long run. What's interesting to me is, the way Jay constantly uses his net worth as his trump card instead of his raw talent. He tried it on the song "H.A.M" where he described Birdman's net worth as "Baby money," and that he (Birdman) wasn't even seeing his lady's money. It was a witty bar as he technically never directly said his name BUT the Hip-Hop community knows that Birdman goes by Baby. Wayne shot back on the Carter 4 on a very underrated track called "It's Good," to which he responded:
In his rise to the top of the Hip-Hop mountain, Drake has become famous for his knack of being able to layer his subliminal disses. As a result, he sparks debates that are still had about who he was talking about. The battle with Meek was a great way to show his ability to plan and strategize an attack. I predict in 20 years we'll be talking about the day "Back to Back" dropped as a legendary moment. The thing is, that battle, along with the number of albums/streams he sells I think he is in the prime position to take the crown as the undisputed king of Rap.
We all know Jay-Z is a mogul, the man just signed a $200 million dollar touring deal with Live Nation, and is signing artist left and right for his management company. My problem is he still raps like he can't be touched when in reality the quality of his music has been lacking in recent years frankly.
Again, let me finish. I will never fix my mouth to flat out say Jay-Z doesn't have it anymore, that would be crazy. He has definitely solidified himself in Hip-Hop and music period. However, if we base his recent performance on his more classic projects I think anyone, even the most devout Hov fan, will admit there is a clear discrepancy. Since the Blueprint 3, his music has lacked substance. When he's not bragging about how much more he has than we (his fans) do what else does he have to say? *Crickets*
An artist evolves, they grow, they rap about what's going on in their lives, but I think something must be said when the content gets repetitive. After 12 solo albums who can blame him? I sure don't, but I will not give him a pass when he comes out of retirement for the fifth time.
If the reports are true that he's coming out with yet another album, I think he has opened himself up to any attacks that come his way, and I think Drake is the perfect person to send them. Drake is big enough that he can't be ignored by the calculated Jay-Z and not to mention, there are millions of Drake fans who could care less about the impact "Reasonable Doubt" had on Hip-Hop. Battles are won in social media just as much as they are won on a track. I don't think people should see this as disrespect for one of the all-time greats. No, they should see it as the circle of life in Hip-Hop. How soon do we forget all the times the new face battled the vet? It's just what happens in our Urban music. Jay knows this is a young man's game, but he is too stubborn, or arrogant to pass the torch. Although his status in battle is undeniable, father time is undefeated.
Malcom X. Bowser is a writer, curator, and founder of Urban X.