Drake’s Dilemma Could Make Him A Hip-Hop Hero

Drake is perched atop the Hip-Hop game right now; his musical Midas touch, dominant as ever. Nothing Was The Same, his third studio album, debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top 200 chart and sold close to 700,000 copies in its first week sporting four successful singles. It was the biggest splash a Hip-Hop album has made in its initial release since Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV in 2011. But, for every ounce of glory attached to the premiere position comes a chilling challenge.

Pusha T provoked Drake on The Dream-assisted single, “Exodus 23:1”. Chi-Town hall-of-fame candidate Common pitched curve-balls at Drizzy on his single, “Sweet” and a remix to “Stay Schemin'”. Even Ludacris shoved the Canadian all-star a bit on “Bada Boom”. But, Kendrick Lamar is another topic all together. Hip-Hop’s darling mentioned Drake, among others, on Big Sean’s “Control” sparking a debate among the fans as to who would prevail in a slug fest. Drake, however, responded listlessly in an interview with Angie Martinez on Hot 97’s airwaves when she suggested he enter a rap battle.

“I feel like those things are of the moment… I’d hold it down… I really do this as far as writing goes… and it would have to be warranted ’cause it would be scathing, the bars would be scathing. I can’t be the first one.”

Then, she mentions Kendrick’s attack to which he responded:

“It just wasn’t real to me. Like, I saw him after that and it was just like, love. So, it’s like, “was that real or was that just for the people?… Let it be real then because, you know, those were harsh words. Right? So, it’s like, you can’t just say that and then see me and be like, “Yeah, man! What’s up? Pretending like nothing ever happened. To me, that’s not the nature of battling. There’s passion behind it. There’s anger behind it, you know? And I personally enjoy making great music and bodies of work over being the talk of Twitter for five days.”

Lamar took the opportunity to address these words at the 2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards.

And nothin’ been the same since they dropped ‘Control’

And tucked the sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes

Haha, jokes on you, high five, I’m bulletproof

Your shots will never penetrate

Pin a tail on the donkey, boy, you been a fake

The top two emcees in Hip-Hop are currently connected via competitive animosity – Drake, a trend-setter and trailblazer whose approach to Rap music stirred a settling pot, and Kendrick Lamar, a fierce lyrical herald with unanimous acclaim, are in position to wage a war of words. Some fans including Erykah Badu, strongly urge Drake to respond to Lamar’s jabs in Hip-Hop’s best interest. Seemingly, a duel between these two could rival the storied Jay-Z and Nas feud. Other fans see it as a necessary survival tool for the Canadian songsmith, as if his deference would cripple his empire similar to Ja Rule and his Murder, Inc label. It’s as if they forgot Drake’s subliminal responses to the aforementioned slights. Even though he has proven he can hold his own, the Hip-Hop nation forgets things rather quickly. But, the bottom line is Hip-Hop thrives off these situations. Competitive rivalries nurtured the culture since its birth. Therefore, when two elite stars in their prime cross paths in this playing field, every body’s a winner, fans and artists included. Since Drake and Kendrick represent this generation’s cream of the crop, if they keep things Hip-Hop by embracing one another with the pen, we’ll all rise to the top.

And that’s all everybody wants.

The public doesn’t care who’s camp is tougher. Nobody figures the two emcees for gangster rappers, anyhow – an important detail considering the culture’s maturity. Previously, fans would side with beefing emcees based on who they think would win an actual shootout rather than a battle. But, the top scores in the game today belong to lyricists and hipsters – Wale, J. Cole, Mac Miller, Macklemore, Wiz Khalifa, and so forth. Drake is known for his emotional expression and Kendrick for his poetic capacity; the two are pure artists, not street credible talents. Imagine two mainstream acts with every-man backgrounds vying for artistic supremacy. The battle would be Hip-Hop’s rite of passage, the advancement symbol it desperately thirsts for. The mafioso and gangster stereotypes would be pushed further into the background and this new era could usher in the next wave of urban craftsmen.

It’s the change we’ve all waited to see happen. And it’s all in Drake’s hands.