I love rap so much. I love hip hop as a culture, I love graffiti, my favourite thing in life is making beats and I consider myself one of the best producers in the world right now, but my first love will always be rap.
Rap is one of those things I love so much that I can’t help but do it, it comes out of me despite me, but I respect the medium too much to call myself a rapper until I personally feel I’m at the levels of the highest practitioners. That’s just my level of reverence and admiration for the craft, past the record sales, past the gimmicks and everything, someone who can really really rap is a superhero to me.
I really love all music, but a great rapper can make you feel things in a way few other artists are capable of. Great writers find a way to release the feelings in words by using them correctly, and when a great rapper is great, everyone knows.
There’s a place in culture and music and art that’s so subjective, but hip hop is about trying to find objective metrics, we try to create cultural top 5s that apply for everyone because we’re trying to formulate what it really means to be the greatest at this thing.
The music industry is about record sales and profit and a lot of the information you get about someones work is what their first week sales look like, how many records they’ve sold, who their features are, how hot the beats are and who the producers are, a lot of metrics that have nothing to do with actual rapping, that might make you think someone is better or worse than they actually are.
The people who know, know who’s nice, and it has nothing to do with how much money they have, who their girl is, or anything like that. People that know rap know King Los is nice, they know Canibus is nice, they know Andre 3000, Lupe Fiasco, Black Thought and Yasiin Bey are some of the best lyricists to touch a pen, and none of these people needed to sell the most records, they’re not the richest people in the world, but everyone that knows rap, knows these are killers, and that’s a conversation you can’t have with the casual rap fan because a lot of times they don’t even know what’s good.
The casual rap fan will never understand why a megastar like Drake is responding to Joe Budden on a lyrical backpack album because they still view Joe from the lens that Drake tries to paint when talking about Joe Budden. Drake has called Budden a failed musician and someone who never made it but he’s been responding to him for years. The great rappers know the great rappers, and they want respect and validation from the other great rappers.
We live in a culture of flexing, and showing off numbers, and nobody has higher numbers than Drake, but there’s a core part of this culture that’s honestly about skill, and that’s what presented itself over the past few weeks.
Joe Budden is one of the greatest rappers, he might not be in most peoples top 5 but people who can really rap know that Joe has a crazy pen. After Buddens viral critique, Drake dissed him in Akademiks comment section and proceeded to drop a deluxe to his album For All The Dogs, with 6 new songs written within the week seemingly responding to all of the backlash the album received.
The deluxe titled Scary Hours 3 is a lyrical backpack album with some of my favourite underground producers like Ovrkast and Conductor. Drake was rapping at an extremely high level, he was angry, he came at Joe Budden, he came at Kanye, Pusha T, me, you, men, women, society, he embraced his recent villain mode and gave us what his core audience wanted from him the whole time.
People immediately started thanking Joe Budden for getting Drake to rap again just like he did with 4 PM in Calabasas, but the casual fan might not really understand why Drake keeps responding to Joe Budden. To the casual fan Joe Budden is a 43 year old podcast host that’s always yelling about Drake projects, they don't really have the same demographic, there’s really no reason Drake should even pay attention to this man let alone respond to him every single time he says anything for over a decade.
Some might say this all stems back to Drake and Buddens history with hookah and women, which is partially true, but it’s way deeper than that and that’s what Scary hours 3 proved to me.
Drake is a huge Joe Budden fan and has been his whole life, to the point where he used to rap like him when he first started rapping, because Drake is a fan of rap and Joe Budden is one of the best rappers to have rapped even if the casual fan isn’t aware of that. When Drake said that Budden performed to crowds of 450 men in dusty jeans, the part that he left out was that he was one of those men because he really loves this shit. Drake wants respect from the greatest rappers just like he has his entire career.
Kurt Cobain once said there’s only a few people that truly love music and they’re all musicians, Drake is a musician and a huge fan of music which is why he’s tapped in with everything underground, and when someone like Joe Budden who he idolizes for his ability trashes his lyricism, that stings.
There is a core to this culture, there is a ground level that needs to sustain you, past all the clout chasing and plaques, there’s that part of every rapper that wants to be the best rapper ever, and that’s real as fuck.
It’s been made to seem unworthy, and stupid to just want to rap. Every young rapper makes fun of “rap niggas” but there’s things like that Lil Wayne mixtape run or J Coles feature run where a guy needs this more than he needs to breathe, and the culture knows and acknowledges it.
At a time where none of the best rappers want to rap, when Andre 3000 dropped an incredible flute album, Joe Budden became a podcast host, we need people like Drake who are active at the highest levels still focusing on lyricism.
Drake was talking about Instagram commenters and broke Toronto artists and I fit in both categories, and as someone who critiqued the album, put a blue angel on an album cover earlier this year and frequently talks about Drake in viral Instagram comments, I felt like he was talking to me throughout the whole thing, but that’s why I love this guy.
Drake is really a rapper bro, and all that pop shit aside, he really cares, and when Drake goes into the studio and comes out with bars, clips, ammo, there’s few people in the world on his level, and he cares so much he’ll even respond to Instagram commenters. That’s his level of pettiness and drive and that’s honestly why he’s one of the greats.
Being two decades into your career, being at the top of the game, and still feeling like you have something to prove is why he’s where he is, and even though I’m pretty sure he addressed me a handful of times, I love the album even more now and I think the deluxe makes this one of his best projects ever.