Drake and Kid Cudi: A Mess

This past Sunday, Drake released four new songs on OVO Sound Radio, a weekly radio show on Apple Music. One song in particular, “Two Birds One Stone”, is receiving much more attention than the others. In the song Drake takes shots at rapper Pusha T (they’ve had a rocky relationship for some time now) and Kid Cudi, hence killing two birds with one stone (song).

 

"You were the man on the moon

Now you just go through your phases

Life of the angry and famous

Rap like I know I'm the greatest

Then give you the tropical flavors

Still never been on hiatus

You stay xanned and perked up

So when reality set in you don’t gotta face it"

 

“Kid Cudi” was trending immediately after the song dropped. For those unaware, Man on the Moon is one of Kid Cudi’s most popular and well-known albums. The album which was released in 2009, contains Cudi’s best charting (and most known) single “Day n Nite”. Another thing you need to know? Kid Cudi is currently in rehab for depression. On October 4th, Cudi penned a message to his fans letting them know that he was suffering from depression and suicidal urges.

 

 

Many found Drake’s lyrics in Two Birds One Stone a low blow.

 

However, some people were on the other side of the spectrum.

 

 

As a lover of all music but especially hip-hop and rap, I found myself conflicted. It’s a well known (everybody and their mama knows) fact that I enjoy Aubrey Drake Graham’s music. It’s also a fact that I was a Kid Cudi fan way before I had even heard of Drake. Although I may not listen to Cudi’s newer music, his older projects still get regular play from me. I am also very aware of the stigma surrounding mental health (especially in the black community) and it’s a subject I talk about very often. And then I wonder, where do you draw the line?

 

Rap beef is a key part of the culture, it always has been. Although we see less of it now than we did in the 80’s or 90’s, a healthy dose of beef and diss tracks keeps rap/hip-hop alive and well. If an artist comes at you, you fire back. Real rap beef isn’t pretty, and some people have even died from it. Diss tracks have no limits, see songs such as No Vaseline by Ice Cube or Hit Em’ Up by 2 Pac for reference. With this in mind, Drake’s lines about Cudi sound very vanilla with rainbow sprinkles. So why was there all this outrage over Two Birds One Stone? Because it’s Drake.

 

Simply put, Drake is a superstar. He’s able to appeal to both sides of the spectrum: he appeals to the pop crowd with songs like Hotline Bling while also staying on the good side of the hip hop crowd with projects like What a Time to be Alive, a joint project with Future. He was an actor, he's generally non-problematic. The fact is that Drake is more marketable to suburban families and Zumba moms than rappers like Ice Cube or 2 Pac were. These types of people probably aren’t familiar with the rougher past of hip-hop and rap, which has a tendency to be unforgiving and unlimited. It's also good to keep in mind that hip hop and rap has also become far more popular with the general public than it has been in the past. Currently, 9 songs out of the top 10 on Apple Music are hip hop songs. 

 

Kid Cudi is also no stranger to speaking his mind. He has a long history of speaking his mind and criticizing other artists:

 

 

Kid Cudi's also been taking shots at Drake for well over a year now.  Anyone who has listened to Kid Cudi's music knows that he's struggled with mental illness for some time. I wondered, does this mean he’s allowed to criticize other rappers without musical consequence? If this is so, why wasn’t there any outrage when Kanye harshly addressed Kid Cudi’s comments at his concert last month? Or what about when Meek Mill told Wale (who suffers from depression) to jump off a roof? Or what about that time when Troy Ave laughed at the suicide of Capital Steez? The selective outrage is telling.

 

Truly, I’d never thought I’d see the day when people criticize Drake for “going too far”. Is 2016 even real? Even though I'm conflicted when it comes to Drake and Kid Cudi's disagreement, one thing I'll never be conflicted about is the importance of mental health awareness. Mental health is important. The culture of rap is also important. Do we start regulating diss tracks? Do we make guidelines for rap beef? Should we start fining rappers for what they say on their tracks? Is this a step towards the gentrification of hip hop? Let me know what you think.