Because the Internet: How Social Media Changed Rap Battles

Social media is having a huge impact on the quality of rap beefs

A long time ago in a universe far, far away...long before the Twitterverse, rappers took the time to create memorable battle records. Those tracks produced some of the greatest battles hip hop has ever witnessed. I’m talking 2Pac vs. Biggie, Jay Z vs. Nas, Boogie Down Productions vs. The Juice Crew, etc. 

Today, with the world at our fingertips, we want everything now. Right now. And in the case of hip hop’s most recent battle, Meek Mill vs. Drake, the Internet Age has had a heavy impact on the quality of beef.

And not in a good way.

A brief rundown: Meek Mill called out Drake on Twitter for not writing his verse on “R.I.C.O.,” which was featured on Meek’s most recent album, Dreams Worth More Than Money. Meek and Funkmaster Flex went on to expose Drake for having a ghostwriter/co-writer named Quentin Miller, and even produced reference tracks as proof.

Drake responded with "Charged Up," which was generally deemed a lackluster diss track.
Four days later, he returned with "Back to Back." While it’s certainly no "Takeover" or "Ether," "Back to Back" has a considerable amount of bite to it.

The only thing that Meek had done up to that point was release a 15-second video called "Beautiful Nightmare" of him screaming in what seemed to be mock response to "Charged Up."

Everyone, including Drake himself (he called Meek out for the lack of a response on "Back to Back"), was waiting to see when the famed Philly battle rapper would respond.

Meek’s own fans were hassling him for a response on social media.

See also: 10 Rap Battles Better Than Meek Mill vs. Drake

So, "finally," on Thursday, just nine days after Meek sent out the Tweets that sparked the battle, Meek Mill responded with “Wanna Know." The song is poorly constructed, sounds badly mixed and is uneven, with some unnecessary interludes and some information near the end that would have been better served as part of Meek’s rhymes.

But the song has enough cold rhymes and ammunition--allegations of Drake using ghostwriters and references tracks (one of which was sampled in the song) and the tidbit at the end about Drake being urinated on in the movie theater, for instance--to think that Meek, an accomplished battler, would have been able to construct a killer diss track if he ignored the social media noise.

You could argue, as some have, that it was tactical brilliance on Drake’s part by releasing consecutive songs to put pressure on Meek. But only one of them was any good, so it’s more likely that Meek was pressured by his own fans and the nature of instant gratification.

It wasn’t always this way: During the Jay Z vs. Nas battle, Nas’ "Ether" was released months after Jay Z’s "Takeover." He took his time to respond to one of the greatest battle songs of all time, constructing an even fiercer one in the process. No disrespect to Nas, but I don’t think "Ether" would have been as potent had he been rushed to the point of putting it out days after "Takeover" dropped.

This is not to give Meek a pass; I still think he should have been smarter and taken his time. Those urging him on would have understood why he took his time had he come out with a scathing track (which I still believe he’s capable of).

But it is time to turn the scope on ourselves, and to remind us all that even in the Internet Age, sometimes it’s better to sit back, take a deep breath, and wait.