As the Kendrick vs Drake hype was kicked up more today as I previously predicted it would be, a question arose that I think deserves a moment of consideration. Are rappers obligated to respond to direct lyrical challenges? As Hip Hop grew up through the 90s and into the new millennium, the business of Hip Hop gave many more artists a choice. You could be street, you could be commercial or for the elite few you could do both. Over time the financial possibilities continued to increase while the reach and appeal of the more traditionally hardcore content continued to fade. This resulted in a breed of new rappers that evolved in a world where the measuring stick was marked off by radio spins, albums sales and endorsements. The need to prove that you were the best fell to the side as artists adopted the WWE approach of entertainment. Yes you may be a rapper but you dont have to be the best even if you claim to be that. Just present a profitable image and character.
Previously anyone that claimed the crown had to compete for it. That competition was as much about the actual skill level of an artist as it was about their position on Billboard's Top 20. You could have a top selling record yet still be laughed into hiding for claiming top dog status without the ability to back it up. Just ask Vanilla Ice. Fast forward back to present day and we have K v D. The dominant question of the day was would or should Drake, who currently has the top album in the nation, reply to the released freestyle snippet of Kendrick Lamar on BET's Hip Hop Awards recording.
“Yeah…and nothing’s been the same since they dropped “Control”/ And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his Pajama Clothes/ Ha-ha jokes on you, high-five…..I’m bulletproof/ Your sh*ts a never penetrate, pin the tail on the donkey boy you been a fake….”
Now, for a prior generation this is a no brainer. You reply with force and venom, but today it's not so cut and dry. Even Hip Hop heavyweight Jay-Z is no longer the quick shooter he once was. Jay-Z was known as one to get at anyone that mentioned his name. That list included Mase, Nas, Jayo Felony, Jadakiss and many more. Now you say a word to or about Jay and expect to get a reply sometime next year. Artists today will not disrupt their business calendar to address lyrical shots and that's unfortunate. Drake not too long ago said, "Diss me, you'll never hear a reply for it" on his "Successful" joint, but he just recently said to Rap Radar's Elliot Wilson, "If it's really **** everybody, then you can't halfway around about it. I'm a very competitive person..."
We'll see which side of Drake reacts to the latest jab from Compton's young gunner. we can hope that it produces good aggressive music but it very well might give us more musical silence and tweets until the next single drops off Drake's album. Professionally Aubrey has nothing to prove, so it's only a matter of the how closely he lives by the classic MC code. A code that is progressive becoming a way of the past.