Toronto

Drake vs. Meek Mill: the rap duel of the year

The battle between rappers Meek Mill and Drake grew heated enough to involve a Toronto city councillor, one of the most famous Blue Jays of all time and 1.5 million Google searches in a single day.

#TeamDrake vs. #TeamMeek

#TeamDrake, on the left, versus #TeamMeek, on the right. (The Canadian Press)

It started with a tweet, now we're here.

The battle between rappers Meek Mill and Drake grew heated enough to involve a Toronto city councillor, one of the most famous Blue Jays of all time and 1.5 million Google searches in a single day.

What was the feud all about? Here's a recap. 

'He don't write his own raps!'

The tweet that instigated the feud came — seemingly out of nowhere — from Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill on July 21. Over a number of tweets, all sent late into the night, he claimed that Drake does not write his own lyrics, a serious allegation in rap music.

The tweet was unexpected as the two appeared to be friendly, both in the rap business and elsewhere. Drake was featured on Meek Mill's recent album, Dreams Worth More Than Money. And when Meek Mill was imprisoned on a parole violation, Drake publicly wore a T-shirt that read "Free Meek Mill."

That guest verse on Meek Mill's album, however, was the focus of the ghostwriting allegations.

Where's Drake?

After Meek Mill's freewheeling tweets on the subject of Drake's lyricism, all eyes turned to the Toronto rapper's social media.

But it was radio silence on the @Drake account. Throughout his career, the Toronto rapper said he would never respond to criticisms of his music. "Diss me, you'll never hear a reply for it," he rapped on his early single Successful.

The only action from Drake came when he favourited an Instagram video that showed a magazine cover with Meek Mill on the cover being flipped around.

Drake would not respond until July 27.

@norm steps in

The day after the Meek Mill tirade, an unexpected voice chimed into the rap feud. Norm Kelly, an erstwhile city councillor and former deputy mayor in Toronto, filed his displeasure with Meek Mill to Twitter.

Kelly's tweet received 130,000 retweets and attention from all over the world.

Kelly would exchange a few other tweets with Meek Mill before announcing that he would take a break from Twitter.

Other voices also took to Twitter to defend Drake, including his Toronto-bred partner and producer, Noah "40" Shebib. The producer tweeted credits to Drake's albums, which acknowledge various different writers on his songs.

'Charged Up'

It would be five days before Drake finally acknowledged Meek Mill, but it wouldn't come on social media.

Drake released a song called Charged Up on July 25. In it, he references a $75,000 donation he gave to a school in Philadelphia — not coincidentally, Meek Mill's alma mater.

Meek Mill called the track "baby lotion soft" and tweeted: "I can tell he wrote that 1 tho."

Kelly then came back into the fray, tweeting an image of a fully charged iPhone — a reference to Drake's response.

Meek Mill gets booed

A woman wore this shirt to Meek Mill's Toronto appearance, where the Philadelphia rapper would be booed. (DailyRapFacts/Twitter)
In the middle of the controversy, Meek Mill had a scheduled tour stop in Toronto with Nicki Minaj. Members of the audience reported Meek Mill arrived on stage about 90 minutes late and was roundly booed.

Minaj plays an important role in the dispute, since she is both Meek Mill's tour partner and current girlfriend and Drake's labelmate on Cash Money Records and rumoured former girlfriend.

Her name never appeared in the verbal sparring between the two rappers, but her presence would be undeniable as the feud continued.

Joe Carter's 1993 home run

A full week later, Drake had more to say: he released a song called Back To Back, further admonishing his Philadelphia counterpart. In this song, he questions Meek Mill's opening slot on Minaj's tour: "Is that a world tour or your girl's tour?"

The song itself has deeper subliminal meaning, referencing the Toronto Blue Jays' 1992-1993 back-to-back World Championship. The artwork for the song is Joe Carter as he strode around the bases after a walk-off home in 1993. 

The team the Jays beat in that series was the Philadelphia Phillies. To add more insult to injury, the song was released Wednesday, the same day the Blue Jays beat the Phillies 8-2.

Carter himself enjoyed the tweet, and used some of the remaining battery power on his phone to thank Drake on Twitter.

#TeamDrake or #TeamMeek?

The rap duel is not over yet. On July 29, Meek Mill sent out an Instagram update promising to get to a studio to record a response track soon.

Meanwhile, public interest in the two is quite literally off the charts. Google gives the searches for the beef the highest rating on its search index, meaning it was a top trend across the search engine this week. Google also estimates there were more than 1.5 million searches for Drake's Back To Back in North America on Wednesday alone.

On social media, the hashtags #TeamDrake and #TeamMeek separate support for the two.

Meek Mill's bizarre accusation

On July 30, nine days after his initial tweet, Meek Mill responded to Drake with a song, called Wanna Know. It was much anticipated, though it did not earn the same attention (or praise) as Drake's Back To Back. In it, Meek Mill continues the ghostwriting claims, comparing Drake to Milli Vanilli, the RnB group famous for being caught lip-synching in the 1990s.

In one of the more bizarre accusations in the song — which Twitter users instantly picked up on — Meek Mill says someone urinated on Drake in a movie theatre, sparking the question on social media, who peed on Drake?

OVO fest

Drake's annual festival, OVO, named after his recording group, took place August 2-3. Through Instagram, Drake invited his fiercest ally, Coun. Kelly.

The councillor, on vacation, wasn't on hand at the festival, but his photo was shown on the screen above the stage to great applause.

Meek Mill was a subject of scorn at OVO, as Drake and the crowd had a field day with the memes online. Drake played his diss song, Back To Back, twice.

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