By Megan Ambers
Have you ever walked into a barber shop or a sports bar in the middle of a heated debate about who is better than who, whether it is of music or even sports? As you listen to both sides argue intensely of their views and beliefs, you either lean towards one or the other, or sit idle in the middle. When it comes down to Rappers and who is believed to be the best of all time, debates can go from rapping techniques to consistency in their success to even their fashion style. While there are many rappers who have been accused of stealing or biting the style of others, these two rappers have built an almost impenetrable wall around themselves when visibility and versatility comes into play.
Drake and Kanye West are two people who have both created a persona that extends to many facets of their careers. From lucrative business deals to the chosen women in their lives, both Drake and Kanye respectively paved the path for those who chooses to follow their lead. To break down what makes Drake and Kanye two of the best rappers today, will also open the discussion on what makes them unlikable. How they are similar to each other and how they differentiate from one another. The Polar opposites of Kanye West and Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham.
From the days of his début mixtape ‘Room for improvement’ to his most recent album ‘Views’, Drake has undoubtedly been immortalized as a symbol of an emotional rapper. Whether it was the loss of a lover or him coming for the dome of an adverse, Drake has always delivered quick-witted catchphrases and punch lines that can still be used as instagram captions. But the question of Drake’s credibility has always been brought up due to the knowledge that he may not write all of his rhymes. Is it unusual for a rapper to have a ghostwriter? No, not necessarily, but it is frowned upon by the majority of the hip-hop community. While publicly beefing with Philly rapper Meek Mill, a Quentin Miller kept coming up as the alleged ghostwriter of Drake, whom later took to his personal Tumblr page with this message,”I am not and never will be a ‘ghostwriter’ for Drake.” The rumor of Drake using ghost writers also spilled over to Hot 97’s legendary DJ Funkmaster Flex who said he doesn’t accept Drake as one of the top 5 Lyricists of today. A statement Drake scoffed off by throwing his own storm of shade by shouting out ‘the real DJs that knows about real music..’Drake however, isn’t the only rapper that has been accused of using a little ‘help’ with their music.
Kanye West has also called for co-writers to help incorporate his inspiration to his music. Wu Tang Clan’s founding member RZA remembers Kanye’s ‘808s and heartbreak’ album as a collective group project from Kid Cudi to Poet and activist Saul Williams, Rapper Consequence to even Ex-girlfriend Amber Rose all contributed to the creative writing process of the album. But both former G.O.O.D. rappers Consequence and Kid Cudi threw shots at Kanye for his inability to write his own music. During an interview with Sway, Consequence revealed that he has contributed to a lot of Kanye’s music and sometimes didn’t credit for it. “It is true I participated in writing with Kanye. You could read it on credits on 808s and heartbreak,College Dropout. Every album that he’s had, I’ve been involved from a creative aspect in writing of songs.” While the beef between Cudi and Kanye was short-lived and quickly diffused, the Ohio-born rapper spew out several severely damaging tweets that was seemingly shot at both Kanye and Drake. “I need yall to know I got so many haters within the industry and these clowns know I’m bout to crush their entire existence.Everyone thinks they’re soooo great. Talking top 5 and be having 30 people write songs for them.” At first, it wasn’t clear who exactly Cudi was referring to, as Kanye had just announced earlier that he was working on a new mixtape with Drake. It was public knowledge that Cudi and Drake weren’t the closest of allies and it was also known that Kanye and Cudi worked together in the past. But the ‘Frequency’ rapper wasn’t going to leave you in suspense for too long, as he continued on with his twitter rant.”My tweets apply to who they apply. Ye, Drake, whoever. These ni**as don’t give a f*ck about me. And they ain’t f*ckin with me.” It was only expected for both Kanye and Drake to publicly clap back at Cudi with Kanye ranting during one of his Saint Pablo shows, “Kid Cudi, don’t never mention ’Ye name. I birthed you.” He stated that he was hurt by the comments that Cudi made and all he has ever done was try to help others. Drake also responded to Cudi’s remarks while onstage in Oakland, by defending Kanye. “I heard boys were talking down today. Shoutout to my brother Kanye West. We both got sold out shows,” Drake said, adding, “boy you gettin’ way too high, you need to cud-it” a reference to O.T. Genesis’ song “Cut It.” Although the beef between Cudi and Kanye was resolved and hugged out during one of Kanye’s later shows, the ill will between Cudi and Drake was still fiery after Drake sent out more shots towards Cudi after his announcement of checking himself into rehab for depression and suicidal thoughts. “My numbers are out of the world, no wonder they got me feeling so alienated/You were the man on the moon, now you go through your phases/Live for the angry and famous.” The ‘Two birds,One stone’ track made head waves as it spread all over the internet like wildfire and Cudi received the message loud and clear, with the insinuation of putting paws on Drake on sight, tweeting, “Say it to [my] face p*ssy. You think it’s a game. I wanna see you say it to my face. I’ll be out soon. Promise.”
While both Kanye and Drake are known for integrating their singing abilities to their rap music, Drake has cited his father for this talent, which has become a staple of his rapping career. It has also played a pivotal role in Kanye’s career, especially with his 808s and heartbreak album. An album that Drake has also stated made a huge impact on his music and even cited Kanye as ‘the most influential person’ that helped shaped his sound as an artist. “We always, always, always took the time to listen to Kanye’s music and appreciate it beyond. We searched the samples and we find out where his inspiration came from, because he has one of the best ears in music, period. He knows how to recognize great music that’s not his. He knows how to utilize great sounds and great music. So before I met him, I had the utmost respect for Kanye West. I’d even go as far as to say he’s the most influential person as far as a musician that I’d ever had in my life.” Kanye has spoken highly of Drake as well, even going as far as describing Drake as a ‘Rap God’. Although the two share similarities and differences when it comes to rapping style and the occasional enemy, it is fashion where they two couldn’t be any more different.
While Kanye has announced himself as a God and even picked up the moniker Yeezus (Yeezy+Jesus = Yeezus) Drake hasn’t proclaimed himself as much of a fashion influence as Kanye has. Although this has not stopped Drake from releasing his own clothing line, the October’s very own, a OVO brand. The owl branded apparel and collaboration gear was an idea that both Drake and his tour manager Oliver El-Khatib worked on together. A clothing line that you will most likely not see walked down a fashion week runway in Paris.
Kanye who has prided himself as the next Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and Jesus considers his fashion line as a work of art, a collection that shouldn’t be accepted as nothing less than high-end quality. While Kanye’s line is a little less unaffordable with crew-neck sweaters and hoodies retailing at almost $400, Drake’s hoodies would cost you more than half of that at less than $200. In 2013, Drake collaborated with the Toronto Raptors, which coincided with him becoming a global ambassador for the NBA Franchise. The OVO clothing brand has since opened 3 flagship stores in Toronto, Los Angeles and in New York, collaborating with Air Jordan, among other companies. While Kanye has not opened any flagship stores for his Yeezy brand, he has collaborated with several different fashion lines that has helped increase rapidly the attention that would make his line known for what it is today. When Kanye’s deal with Nike (which produces the Air Jordan sneakers) fell through over creative differences, Kanye didn’t fret as he moved onto Adidas, whom has given him the creative space that he needs. But it would not have been of Kanye’s nature to not say something about the breakup between him and Nike. On his track ‘Facts’, Kanye threw some very heavy shade at the brand by stating his sneakers sold more than Air Jordans. “Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy jumped over Jumpman.” A line that mimicked Drake’s collaboration with rapper Future “Jumpman” track. Neither Drake or Future took it as a shot at them, however, the basketball legend Michael Jordan’s son didn’t take too lightly the gesture of disrespect, which led to Kanye publicly apologizing to Michael via twitter. Stating his beef wasn’t with Michael but with the CEO of Nike and former business partner Mark Parker.
There will be people who will read this and totally disagree with everything that was stated. That’s not a bad thing, it is what will keep this discussion going. Whether you believe or not, that Drake or Kanye are the best lyricists of today is completely up in the air. What can’t be denied are the facts that these two have both innovatively changed the rap game forever. We may always suspect that Drake had ghost writers and we may never know if he does. But has that stopped him from going platinum? Has that stopped him from sitting on the Billboard 200 chart for 10 weeks, making ‘Views’ the first male album to do that in over 10 years? Has the arrogance of Kanye stopped people from camping outside to buy his $200 Yeezy 350 Boost sneakers?Has his random but necessary rants stopped people from purchasing tickets to his shows? It hasn’t. We may not be able to related to what is called their ‘Hyper-reality’ music. We don’t know the first thing of what it is like to drive a Bugatti or hobnob with other celebrities. But when we listen to their music or go to their concerts, we are entertained. Whatever issues that life throws at us, loses its momentum while we are in their presence. In that hour and a half that we are watching them, reciting their music along with them, we are happy. Nothing else matters. How does that not make them the greatest rappers of today?