Last night while most people were sleeping, a number of hip-hop artists started voicing their opinions on ghostwriters after Meek Mill targeted Drake for not writing his own verse on “R.I.C.O.,” and for not promoting his album, Dreams Worth More Than Money. Allegedly, after Drake found out that Meek Mill knew he didn’t write his own verse, Drake refused to promote the album to his 24 million followers.
If this flurry of tweets is to be believed at face value, it would appear that Meek Mill is over-reacting to a practice that happens often in hip-hop. The name Meek mentioned, Quentin Miller, is actually credited on “R.I.C.O.”, which means that it’s common knowledge that someone other than Drake wrote it. But maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye. Maybe this could be a classic case of a love triangle gone wrong, with Drake feeling false ownership over Minaj after her relationship with Safaree Samuels. Or maybe it can be deeper than love or money, and be an issue of respect tied to each artist’s use of album art. We spoke to the designer of Meek Mill’s album cover to find out every angle to these theories in an attempt to get to the bottom of this.
Theory #1: He Wanted the Drake Stimulus Package
Meek Mill is genuinely upset that Drake, currently the biggest rapper in the game, may have a secret crutch with the army of songwriters
under his wing
. While this practice isn’t anything new in the music industry—Kanye has been more than open about the army of writers he enlists for a new song—it's still a touchy subject in hip-hop which still holds the outdated ideal that every lyric is entirely written pen to paper by one artist.
Meek has always been very vocal about social support from his rap peers, which caused Wale to catch flack when the D.C. rapper didn’t tweet about Meek’s debut. This time around, according to Meek, once The Boy found out that Meek knew he didn't write his own lyrics, he pulled away from sharing the social media love.
While it would be easy to call Meek Mill petty, it’s hard to ignore the influence of the OVO rapper. With over 24 million followers on Twitter, his support could have given Meek’s already large sophomore sales an even bigger debut. Perhaps adding fuel to Meek’s claims is the fact that for no rhyme or reason and a week in advance of Future’s Dirty Sprite 2, Drake announced that he would be the sole feature on the album. And while many would argue the strong arm of #FutureHive for the impressive 125,000 – 135,000 opening sales of DS2, the “Drake Stimulus Package” is a real thing.
Theory #2: The Lover’s Triangle
Before Meek and Nicki started officially dating this spring, there was always some romance brewing between Nicki and Drake. This has a long history, dating back to Nicki’s “Moment For Life” video where the two are seen getting married and as recently as the infamous lap dance in her “Anaconda” video. Now there is reason to believe Meek and Nicki’s relations is on the rocks, as video footage from Nicki and Meek’s Miami performance from July 20th displays them interacting awkwardly on stage and barely looking at each other. In his storm of tweets last night, Meek put it on display that he’s sensitive towards Drake and Nicki’s ambiguous relationship, saying: “When he said the dream girl shit on Rico I thought he was coming at me lol.”
Theory #3: Art Attack
Meek Mill’s album art features a stack of money unfolding to expose what appears to be a page from the bible with the same prayer hands that are on Drake’s If You’re Reading This Its Too Late. However, if you look closely, you can see it’s a page from a service for Robert Parker, Meek Mill’s father. The date of August 19, 1992 on the page matches up to the date of the news report announcing Parker’s death, and the prayer hands seem to be lifted straight from the funeral program. Meek Mill’s album was pushed back from September of 2014, a full 4 months before Drake dropped his mixtape. In a phone call with Noisey, Chaz L. Morgan—the designer who created Meek Mill’s album art—stated that Meek had approved all of the promotional artwork leading up to the original September 2014 release, and approved the image of the prayer hands for the release. “I drafted up the funeral service page. But the hands, I was able to get the original copy because Meek put it on Instagram like two or three years ago. I wanted to put a picture of him on the cover, so I was researching and I was able to find a picture of them cropped out. I was just reinterpreted the rest of it with based on dates.” When I follow up and ask how he feels about Drake using the same image for his mixtape, or if Drake may have seen the image ahead of time, he replies with the silent treatment. Like most superstars, Drake has a history of being influenced by outside forces. Was Meek Mill’s use of prayer hands so impactful that Drake felt he needed to claim it as his own? Although Meek didn’t allude to it in the tweets, the fact that a peer used an image that holds such gravity to your personal history and, in a way, represents the love you feel for your late father, might have been one of the many straws on this camel’s back.
The truth may lay outside of those three theories or be some weird combination of them, but the fact remains that this rap beef is in full swing. Drake has historically not been one to engage in rap feuds, but with one of his former allies taking such a hard stance against him, it would appear that this beef holds more substance than one with, say, Tyga. We will continue to follow this story and provide updates as they happen.