Did Drake Pull His Rap Beef Game Plan from a Self Help Book?
Reading through the 6 with my woes.
In the 2009 song, “What I’m Thinking Right Now,” Drake instructs listeners to “read 48 Laws if you never read it/ because that is one of the main reasons I’m level headed.” And in this past week, that very same mental hardiness has been evident in his beef with Meek Mill. However, for anybody who has been closely watching Drake’s career, it’s clear that victory is assured for the 6 God for the sole reason that he’s so familiar with Robert Greene’s novel 48 Laws of Power. Traditionally used by powerful businessmen and Warren Buffet-types, as well as followed by the likes of Kanye West, 50 Cent and Jay Z, 48 Laws isn’t so much a self-help book as it is a step-by-step guide to becoming a Thanos-like super villain, one who can charm and crush opponents while asserting complete control. For example, tactics such as practicing the oral art of less is more Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary and the value of confidence Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness have all been practiced by Aubrey at length. As such, it stands to reason that Drizzy will not only defeat the Philadelphia Petty Wap, but that we’re able to easily outline the ways he’ll do it.
Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary“When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.”
The last line is particularly telling in regards to Meek Mill and his historical lack of impulse control on Twitter (Hi, Wale). Furthermore, Meek and one mis-owner of a web domains attacks on Drake’s songwriting credibility only served as an alley-oop of sorts for Drake’s first plan of attack; namely, silence. Instead of wasting words tinged with impatience and giving credence to these claims he waited quietly, building control for himself.
Law 7: Get Others to Do the Work for You
“Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause. Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you an aura of efficiency and speed.”
As news of Quentin Miller's work on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late particularly the release of his reference track for “10 Bands” spread it was crucial that these rumours be dealt with in a swift manner. Naturally, it would make sense for Drake to defend them however by commenting it would only fan the rumour mill and certainly wouldn't be held as credible. As such, it was important to have another party, someone who’s known only to speak when it's important and whose word—while far from objective— carries weight and for that role Noah “40” Shebib suited best.
Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
“Your actions must seem natural and executed with ease. All the toil and practice that go into them, and also all the clever tricks, must be concealed. When you act, act effortlessly, as if you could do much more”
While most complained about the understated cadence and vibe of “Charged Up” it's actually a strict example of the above law. The image he portrays here is that he IS disinterested, he IS unaffected and dropping bars for this rap beef is literally the last thing on his mind while playing kickball for the kids.
Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew“Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall. That weakness is usually insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need; it can also be a small secret pleasure. Either way once found, it is a thumbscrew you can turn to your advantage”
Meek’s entire rap persona is built on being the alpha male, a “real” rapper from the streets. Unsurprisingly, this is key for Drake in destroying his opponent’s persona and the reason why Drake aggressively uses lines like “ No woman ever had me star struck/ Or was able to tell me to get my bars up“ and “Is that a world tour or your girl's tour?/ I know that you gotta be a thug for her/ This ain't what she meant when she told you to open up more.” Not for lack of material, but to continue bullying Meek’s alpha male role and playing up the fact that the “boss” is second fiddle to his partner (and lyrically superior) Nicki Minaj.
Law 17: Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability
“Turn the tables: Be deliberately unpredictable. Behavior that seems to have no consistency or purpose will keep them off- balance and they will wear themselves out trying to explain your moves. Taken to an extreme, this strategy can intimidate and terrorize.”
This law is best evidenced in the sudden release of “Back to Back.” The Boy destroys the idea of a back and forth battle by stealing the winds from Meek’s cache and throwing him off balance with a two-peat. What makes this more impressive is his use of Law 12: Use Selective Honesty to Disarm Your Victim by acknowledging in his lyrics that Meek’s claims may have actually bothered him before striking the final blow at Meek’s street cred with the damaging “Yeah, trigger fingers turn to twitter fingers /Yeah, you gettin' bodied by a singin' nigga”.
Law 29: Plan all the way to the End
“The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others."
Let there be no mistake, Drake is smarter than your favourite rapper and everything has been planned accordingly. His success is equally tied to his talent as well as his mental adeptness which is why he’s successfully traversed the music industry. So it only makes sense he applies as much to confrontation. For example, the cover image of “Back to Back” shows the Toronto Blue Jays winning home run in the 1993 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies which because mind-numbingly crazy when you also realize the two teams are also playing today. In addition, he also shows he’s a man of his word saying “You gon' make me buy bottles for Charlamagne/You gon' make me go out of my fuckin' way” and actually does as much with the radio host shortly after the tracks arrival. Effectively, courting public opinion as Law 43: Work on the Heart and Mind of Others states and giving his words extra credence at the same time.
Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally
While we would never go as far as to say Meek’s career will end, his golden year will—if not already—effectively be coming to a close shortly. From the outset Drake is without a doubt in throws of his peak and is without a doubt the dominant force in rap. However, Meek’s true finishing blow won’t arrive until after the beef is amended (probably by Jay Z or something). It’s no secret before Meek’s jail stint there was little to no interest in his sophomore and post-Dreams Worth More Than Money all musical ties between the two will be effectively cut. Artists both new and weathered to the game will see Drake continue to remain prominent and look to keep in line with his success and widespread influence and distance themselves from Meek, for fear of bad business. For as Drake once foretold “You bit the hand now starve,” and the same will apply for Meek Mill.