See How Meek Mill And Drake Will Make Extra Cash From Beef
Oh, boys–it appears rapper Meek Mill will no longer be a “woe” Drake runs with. After taking to Twitter last week to accuse Drake of using ghostwriters, Meek Mill apologized. Drake aired a diss track and Meek Mill promptly spoke out about him again while opening for girlfriend Nicki Minaj at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center this weekend. On tuesday, Drake released another freestyle seemingly directed at Meek Mill.
If this sounds like a lot of fuss over nothing, that’s because it is: Ghostwriting is an open secret in hip-hop. Rap legends including Dr. Dre, Diddy and Kanye West are all thought to have used uncredited writers at various points, with Diddy once saying: “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks.” Rap’s moral conscience, Kendrick Lamar, even put ghostwriters on blast in his recent “King Kunta,” spitting: “I can dig rapping, but a rapper with a writer? What the fuck happened?” Many co-writers are also openly mentioned in the liner notes of hip-hop albums — just look at the credits on your favorite record.
What is worth noting is that this drama — and the media speculation it has prompted — perfectly coincides with the extended promotion of Meek Mill’s second studio album, Dreams Worth More Than Money. The genesis of the so-called beef is rooted in its release, with Mill criticizing Drake for not tweeting a link to his record, which was released on June 29th.
Stop comparing drake to me too…. He don’t write his own raps! That’s why he ain’t tweet my album because we found out!
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) July 22, 2015
As Forbes contributor Hugh McIntyre reported, Dreams Worth More Than Money debuted atop the Billboard 200, moving a very impressive 246,000 equivalent units in its first week. The Rick Ross protégé’s quarter-million sales bests 2012′s Dreams and Nightmares, which debuted at number two with 165,000 copies sold and this month went gold.
Dreams and Nightmares Intro really one of the best rap moments of our generation…
— Drizzy (@Drake) April 30, 2014
Meek Mill “calling out” Drake can be pegged as a David and Goliath struggle: The working class Philadelphia rapper who built a loyal following through a lengthy mixtape career (Mill) versus the started-from-the-not-so-bottom Degrassi child star from Canada whose last three albums have gone platinum (Drake). More realistically, it’s a beef that is unlikely to scratch Drake’s near-impenetrable reputation, but stands to benefit both financially.
Meek Mill is currently among the acts supporting Hip-Hop Cash King Nicki Minaj on The Pinkprint Tour. Her stadium-sized crowd is a big leap up for Mill and exposes him to potential new fans who are predisposed to like him, particularly when the concert concludes with Minaj and Mill dueting onstage. You can bet these new fans will go out and buy his recent album — and his old one, too.
The so-called beef keeps Mill’s name in the headlines in the weeks after initial album sales begin to wane. It also strengthens his reputation as an “honest” rapper — a characteristic that will help him sell more in the future. For Drake, let’s not forget that we are just a few days ahead of the sixth annual OVO Fest in Toronto, which is headlined by Kevin Hart, J. Cole and Drake himself. By swiftly releasing two tracks in the week leading up to his festival, he reminds listeners of his prowess, which can only help move tickets.
As I noted in 2013, competition in hip-hop increases profits. When Kanye West and 50 Cent faced off publicly over their third albums, due for release on the same day in 2007, Cent said he would retire if Curtis undersold Kanye’s Graduation. Kanye’s record outsold 50 Cent’s by 266,000 records in its first week – 50 didn’t retire. Later, 50 Cent told XXL Mag that the beef improved record sales: “Both of the numbers were bigger than what they would have been [without the competition]. It was just great marketing.”
Jay Z and Nas’ feud in the early 2000s effectively regenerated Nas’ career – in 1999 his record, I Am…, reached double platinum, while its lackluster follow up, Nastradamus, sold only half as many units. In 2001, the duo began taking swipes at each other in barbed verses, and Nas’ Stillmatic went platinum, while Jay Z’s 2002 The Blueprint 2 shipped 545,000 units in its first week of sales. As Zack Greenburg notes in Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office: “Fueled by the feud, Jay Z’s music was selling faster than ever; his new album achieved platinum status barely a month after its release.”
Let’s not forget that Meek Mill’s 2012 breakout hit, “Amen,” features Drake, who is a long-time labelmate and collaborator of Nicki Minaj. For Drake and Meek Mill, this very public disagreement sets the stage for a lucrative reunion song or tour.
So, what’s the beef? None, really — just profit.