Common vs. Drake: A worthy rap beef?


Canadian rapper Drake. (MARK BLINCH/REUTERS)

I guess every rap generation needs its own era-defining beef. But Kool Moe Dee versus Busy Bee at the 1981 Harlem World Christmas Rappers Convention this isn’t. (For those too young to know what that is, here you go).

Forgive me for my incredulity, but my first thought was: is this real? In a world where “reality” television is anything but, I figured it was some kind of publicity stunt. Common, after all, is posted up in Hollywood, starring in movies with Queen Latifah one minute and trading hugs with the Obamas the next. The Canadian-born Drake, who is really more of a singer/rapper, started his entertainment career as a child actor and is generally known for being genial and a little bit edgy- all while wearing cardigan sweaters. Most of his fans, we’re led to believe, are women.


LL Cool J is seen at Spike TV's Video Game Awards on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in Culver City, Calif. (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Remember, hip-hop battles are at their best when at least one of the rappers is hungry, trying to get on and dethrone the king. (Think L.L. Cool J vs Canibus, for instance) Or when one rapper leaves a group and wants to remind everyone why he left. (Think NWA vs. Ice Cube). And even when two legends go at it (ala Jay-Z vs. Nas) it can be highly entertaining.

Frankly, neither Drake or Common could be considered an upstart- although clearly Common is playing the role of the grizzled veteran. And this really isn’t even a fair fight lyrically. So what’s the point? (Word has it this might all be about tennis star Serena Williams, who has dated both rappers).

But then there was this tweet about the beef from Houston-bred rapper, Scarface, which has taken all of this to a new level: “There is a certain level of respect all men have to have for one another any form of disrespect means you are prepared to DIE”

Call me a fuddy-duddy, but this kind of hyperbolic rant (from a hip-hop elder, nonetheless) has no place in the middle of a “beef” between two commercial rappers.(Of course it has no place anywhere, but...) Especially after Biggie and Tupac took hip-hop battling to a fatal level 15 years ago. Apparently, Scarface has forgotten that people actually did DIE behind the same kinds of egging on that his comment suggests.

So, please, enough. Brothers, go back to being lovable mainstream guys who rap and sing and act and dance (in commercials). Enjoy your success. Common, we know you can battle. Many of us have been around long enough to remember your beef with Ice Cube. Congratulations. But we also remember you were in an ad for The Gap, selling furry jackets.

Drake: you’re a singer/rapper. We like you because you are who you are. A battle rapper you aren’t. (You’ve been getting the lyrical pants beat off of you in all this). Ain’t no shame in being a cool guy with a nice falsetto flow. No need to wade in waters that are too deep for you.

And Scarface: please choose your hype man words more carefully before someone really gets hurt.

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