What's that smell? Fresh beef!
In the past few weeks, Lonnie "Common" Lynn Jr., the rapper and controversial poet, has been trying his damnedest to get a beef going with Aubrey "Drake" Graham. Common just released his ninth studio album, The Dreamer/The Believer, at age 39. He once went by the name Common Sense and billed himself as a "conscious" rapper. (Sentience was a really big deal in hip hop about 20 years ago.) Drake is a former child actor turned rapper-singer from Canada who is currently making music that he says has a "sex-driven chauvinistic undertone to it" and who is almost literally untouchable by now. Women love him: He is hip hop's Justin Bieber, only his fans actually have their own credit cards.
And yet, Lonnie is out firing for Aubrey. Did I mention yet that Common just released an album?
The theory here is that Common is still heartsick for Serena Williams, whom he dated on and off for three years, beginning in 2007. Drake's rumored to have something going with Williams now; they played tennis back in September and Drake told Complex in November that he "really, really loves and cares for her."
"She's definitely in my life and I'm in her life," he added.
On "Sweet," off of The Dreamer, The Believer, Common took his first broad swipe at Drake, calling out "sweet ass bitch motherfuckers" and "soft" rappers who are "singing all around me" like "Frank Sinatra." (His label is billing it on YouTube as Common's "new controversial record.")
On Rick Ross's new mixtape, Drake came back with a verse on the track "Stay Schemin'." He didn't name Common, and essentially said he was above the beef: "Back when if a nigga reached it was for the weapon/Nowadays niggas reach just to sell their record." Common turned the track around and added his own verse in a remix: "Can't say my name but you rap about my wife," he says, and ends it on the only memorable line to come out of this mess: "You ain't wet nobody, nigga, you Canada Dry."
Two men who have made a hell of a living off of "softening" their delivery for hip hop's vulnerable markets are now attempting to convince everyone that the other is, in fact, the "softer" one. We know that Drake sings and gets emotional in his songs because Drake knows that Drake sings and gets emotional on his songs ("Listen to you expressing all them feelings," he raps on "Headlines," "Soap opera rappers, all these niggas sound like All My Children"). That Common thinks this is still some kind of leverage only underscores his desperation here. It's hard to critique someone for being "soft" once you've used "hood" to shill for a sheep-lined GAP item.
But that's modern beef, right? Processed and mostly synthetic, but it still meets the traditional flavor profile. The only way I'll be satisfied with this particular episode is if it ends with neither of the guys getting the girl.