Here’s an unlikely duo for rap beef: Common and Drake. A guy once known for wearing crocheted pants versus America’s most successful emo-rapper. And yet, somehow against the odds, Common has pinned Drake in his cross-hairs as a fortuitous enemy to hip-hop at-large, taking shots at the Canadian rapper for his rapping style. Unfortunately for Common, this rap battle has him looking more like the fool than the victor.
According to Common, Drake is making hip-hop “soft”. He raps on the song “Sweet” from his recently released album The Dreamer, The Believer that hip-hop has lost its heart and that he’s annoyed by one particular singing rapper who’s promoting an edgier lifestyle than he’s actually lived.
Many say these shots were aimed at Drake, known for popularizing both rapping and singing on a track.
Drake fired back at Common’s insults with a somewhat vague defense via a verse on Rick Ross’ new single “Stay Schemin.” By diss record standards it was fairly harmless; more of a precarious comeback than an all-out attack. He defended his wealthy lifestyle, while reassuring that he has street credibility.
Undaunted by his opponent’s lackluster retort, Common has forged ahead with his own remix of “Stay Schemin,” rapping again that Drake is “sweet,” lacks a unique rapping style, and is simply the rapper of the moment. As hip-hop beefs go, this is shaping up to be a very boring peacocking of two poorly matched adversaries.
Common isn’t unfamiliar with the rap beef — in 1994, he released “I Used to Love H.E.R.” — a song reminiscing on his love for hip-hop, and its perceived downfall at the hands of West Coast gangsta rap. Naturally, rap outfit Westside Connection answered the call, and the beef grew heated until a truce was mediated by Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.
However, it’s not 1994, and Common isn’t a young rapper trying to find his way. He’s an established entertainer, fielding White House invites and Hollywood movie and television scripts — why is Drake even on his radar?
It’s unclear why Common is coming after Drake in the first place. It’s fine not to be a fan of the guy, but trying to implicate him for what you feel is the downfall of the hip-hop genre is not just lazy, it’s simplistic. It reeks of jealousy. Drake may not be the greatest rapper alive, but he certainly isn’t driving hip-hop to hell in a hand-basket. Common’s allegations seem like a misguided attempt for attention.
Another theory about why Common is coming after Drake has to do with Common’s ex-girlfriend. Drake was recently quoted in a Complex magazine article saying, “I really, really love and care for Serena Williams,” without elaborating on their relationship. Cue angry ex-boyfriend Common, launching an attack on the new guy who may have taken his girl and is now flaunting it.
Despite the heartbreak, it’s still not worthy of a rap feud. Love hurts, Common, and hip-hop changes. Drake is likely the rapper of the moment, but eventually he’ll have to pass the crown to someone else. It’s the nature of the game. Common should be beyond feeling the need to defend his place in hip-hop, especially when he wasn’t attacked by a truly formidable opponent.
Common has gained a reputation as a thoughtful, multi-talented entertainer. His original hip-hop handle was Common Sense, and that was who he appeared to be — a guy who had a sense of the bigger picture, above the hyper-masculine ego fray that absorbs so many rap icons.
But this battle paints Common as petty and immature; an old rapper trying to demand respect when really all the yelling and shouting just shows how out of touch he really is.
The game has changed, like it always does, and always will. Common should focus on his own career, not who the new kid might be in the spotlight.