V Exclusive! Drake’s Feb/Mar 2012 VIBE Feature Story (PG.3)

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Drake, who once rapped, “Without a response from me you really fail to exist,” on 2010’s “9AM in Dallas,” has decided to answer his critics with aggressive statements or passive aggressive dismissals.

During a Las Vegas concert, a ruf?ed Drake reportedly puffed up his chest and ?red back. “I might sing, but I ain’t no bitch. If Common got something to say, say it to my face.”

Several weeks later, Drake dropped a verse on Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin’” in which he rapped, “That’s why I see no need to compete with niggas like y’all/I just ask that when you see me you speak up, nigga, that’s all…”

Common remixed the song days later, stripping in his own verse at the end in which he takes direct aim at Drake. “Son of a bitch, I imagine what you father is,” he raps. “Acting all hard when he hardly like that/ You gon’ mess around and make me catch a body like that…” At the end of the record, he leaves no ambi- guity. “Soft nigga, make no mistake, I’m talking to Drake… Don’t hide behind them other niggas.”

The thought of a full-blown beef between the two un-gangster rappers managed to capture the imagi- nation of true hip-hop loyalists. “They’re both great lyricists, and you know that they’re not going to take it to a violent place. It’s not going to get ugly or end tragically,” says industry insider and Missinfo.tv blogger Miss Info. “They may dismantle each other on records, but it won’t go beyond that.”

But the bigger question is why do people relish in hating, or hating on, Drake? According to Charlamagne, the pseudogangster posturing plays a part. “Your whole style is estrogen, and we know that. So when you try and ?ip it and come off as this tough guy, you’re killing your persona,” he explains. “You can’t talk about trying to fuck up a tattoo artist for putting your name on some chick’s face and you’ve got a picture of Aaliyah tattooed on your back. It doesn’t add up.”

“Creatively he’s awesome, but he’s also ridiculous in so many ways,” Miss Info says. “You love the song ‘Headlines,’ and then you see the video and you’re like, ‘Why is he wearing those gloves? Why is he trying to look thugged-out? Why does he have a Southern drawl when he’s from Canada? He’s such a source of comedy. And I thank him for that. He’s like the Happy Meal of hip-hop. You get the food, and then the toy is him in those sweaters.”

When asked about all of his alleged nemeses, Drake tries his hand at diplomacy. “I’ve got no issues with him,” he says of Future, who was upset that Drake didn’t appear in the video for his single “Tony Montana.” “I’m happy I got on the song.” Pusha T, who once cryptically rhymed that “the swag don’t match the sweaters,” gets off easy, too. “I’ve been really open about my love for the Clipse,” he says. “I don’t know, maybe that guy is bored.” Ludacris, who was accused of stealing Big Sean and Drake’s hashtag ?ow, also receives a halfhearted smackdown. “That’s a case of somebody trying to use my marketing money to get things going again for them- selves. That didn’t affect my day, my month, my year. I didn’t take any of that seriously.”

But when it comes to tossing off disses, Drake’s not above delivering his own veiled swipes these days. On “Dreams Money Can Buy,” he surveys the hip-hop landscape and decides he’s sorely disappointed by what he sees. “Lately it went from top ?ve to remain- ing ?ve,” he rhymes. “My favorite rappers either lost it or they ain’t alive.” He stops short of mentioning names, but doesn’t back away from his declaration. “I wasn’t in rap when I was idolizing a lot of these people,” he says. “But times change. People don’t sound the way they used to. It’s inevitable. Someday Drake won’t sound the way he used to. I’ll do anything in my power to still sound relevant, but unfortunately Drake may not. And yes,” he says with a chuckle, “I referred to myself in the third person.”

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