In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Drake released “Back to Back,” the second in a pair of lukewarm malevolent missives aimed at Meek Mill. Certainly most people are looking at this fracas as Drizzy taking Meek to task for accusations of using a ghostwriter, or that both men are being petty because they got caught up in their own feelings—Meek, because Drake didn’t tweet out a link to Dreams Worth More Than Money; Drake, because he’s jealous of Meek’s relationship with Nicki Minaj. And while social media is atwitter with two-liners and memes about how Meek lost, too few are paying attention to the ugly way in which Drake is using Nicki—who, mind you, is his friend and co-worker—as a pawn in this fight.
Discrediting someone’s masculinity is a long-standing tradition in rap beef (see: Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline,” 2Pac’s “Hit ‘Em Up”), but there is something even more loaded to Drake rapping, “No woman has ever had me starstruck” on initial diss “Charged Up” than just calling Meek a simp. Drake is the undisputed King of Crush Mountain, publicly pining for Rihanna, Serena Williams, at least a dozen Magic City dancers, as well as Minaj herself, so if he really stands by such a dubious lyric, he’s not just insulting Meek; he’s telling everyone he doesn’t believe Nicki is worth being breathlessly wowed by. What this also means is that Meek has to be extremely precise and respectful if and when he decides to respond with a track.
So far, Meek’s trajectory has been perfect, delivering prime cut shade with the “I can tell he wrote that lol” tweet and proclaiming, “Make some noise for the woman who got me starstruck” at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center the night after “Charged Up” was released. The best thing you can do when someone tries to flip a positive truth about you into something unflattering is to own the insult. Meek’s pride for Nicki swiftly rendered Drake’s bar irrelevant and unworthy of Meek’s time, as well as simultaneously deflating the idea that Nicki isn’t deserving of starry-eyed tongue-wagging. While you’re thirsting for Meek to drop a venomous 16, he’s long crossed the finish line and had time to deliver a super steamy video confirming that, yes, he is in love and is wholly unafraid to show it.
He’s calling opening up for an international superstar a weak move, but would he say the same thing to Future about their last two tours?
But emotional transparency is one of the things Drake is trying to attack Meek for, as well. On “Back to Back,” he raps, “This ain’t what she meant when she told you to open up more,” presumably making a double entendre about the Twitter insults Meek spewed and his undercard spot on the Pinkprint Tour, all under the guise of Nicki apparently confiding in Drake that Meek isn’t necessarily a ~feels~ guy. This line, with all of its layers, is also extremely disrespectful toward Nicki. If she did, in fact, mention to Drake that Meek is guarded about his interior self and that she is trying to break down those walls, Drake is breaching trust by telling anyone with a 4G connection about it. That bit about Meek being Nicki’s opening act? He’s calling opening up for an international superstar a weak move, but would he say the same thing to Future about their last two tours? Doubtful. And, finally, most people are not that quick to break down their walls in a new relationship, so if Drake actually made that up, he’s picking from very low-hanging fruit.
Not everyone is drunk dialing their exes or falling in love with a Hooters waitress whose upselling you were duped by. Just because you can manipulate women with your supposed sensitivity doesn’t mean you’re more evolved than someone who locks up when feelings get real. Yes, the Cash Money well has been poisoned since Lil Wayne revealed his anger toward Birdman and his feelings about being unfairly treated by the label, but Drake didn’t need to season it with a little extra cyanide. Now that he has twice, should Nicki just blow the whole thing up? This seems like the only reasonable further recourse, unless Meek releases a full pean about Minaj’s glory as his musical retort to Drake.
Until then, Drizzy should go over the “Back to Back” lyrics once more and think about a line like, “When I look back/I might be mad that I gave this attention” or the impatience he expressed over having to wait four days and counting for a track. It probably took Meek five minutes, in total, to start and finish his initial flame war—is Drake that bored? He must be now that he’s spent days focusing on someone who got something off of his chest and can no longer be bothered—and insulted his friend who he knows could lyrically cut him down to size within the time it takes to spritz yourself twice with Minajesty. Drake came to win a battle with Meek Mill, but instead he’s repeatedly set himself up to lose Nicki, a friendship he’s been celebrating for over half a decade.
Claire Lobenfeld is a writer living in New York. Follow her @clairevlo.