Yasiin Bey has admitted that Drake is a talented MC after he initially compared the Toronto superstar’s music to the music played in Target — but he’d still like to hear more substance from him.
Talking to fans on an Instagram Live on Monday (January 29), the artist formerly known as Mos Def spoke to Drake directly as he urged him to reach out if he wanted to discuss anything while clarifying some of his earlier comments.
“Drake, if you’d like to speak to me directly, you can at any point,” Yasiin said. “I reached out to [Dave] Chappelle, actually reached out to you. I DM’d you. You are a very talented MC, but for me, I require more of myself and others than just talent or charm or charisma — particularly in times of urgent crisis. And what I would like to see in terms of creators or creative people in the world, as it relates to our culture, is for people to connect with us beyond the jukebox or the dance floor.”
He concluded: “A fair-weather friend can hardly be called a friend at all. The people who party with you — that’s cool. But will they show up for you when you’re at the triage?”
Yasiin Bey’s original comments arrived earlier this month during a Patreon-exclusive interview with The Cutting Room Floor.
“Drake is pop to me,” he told host Recho Omondi. “In the sense like, if I was in Target in Houston and I heard a Drake song, it feels like a lot of his music is compatible with shopping. Or shopping with an edge, in certain instances.”
Though Bey did refer to the Canadian superstar’s music as “likeable,” he and Omondi had fun joking around about the idea of music that is an ideal backdrop for commerce.
“I love this mall!” Bey laughingly exclaimed. “They have everything here. This is the new Drake — you hear it?”
Turning serious, Bey suggested that music for shopping may not be relevant during “the collapse of empire.”
“Are we not in some early stage of that at this present hour?” he asked. “Buying and selling — where’s the message that I can use? What’s in it for your audience?”
Taking to his Instagram Story days later, Drake issued a response by sharing an old interview clip of Method Man while writing: “What umi say again? Lemme shine my light king don’t change up now,” referencing Bey’s classic song “UMI Says.”
The video in question finds the Wu-Tang Clan legend explaining what Hip Hop is to him: “Hip Hop is a culture. It’s a way of life, the way you dress, the way you talk, the way you walk. It’s the breakdancing, rhymes, stage show, DJ, mixing and scratching, the wordplay. That’s Hip Hop.”
Shortly after that, Drake hit back at Yasiin Bey again by commenting “Bohemian Bucket” on a video that spoke about the Brooklyn rapper’s alleged drug-fueled marriage. The word “bucket” is Toronto slang for “crackhead.”
Common was one of the people who came to Drake’s defense despite their former rivalry.
“I wrote a song called ‘I Used to Love H.E.R.’ and that joint was really speaking to when it started becoming real corporate and losing the purity of it,” he said on Ebro In The Morning last week. “I think now, artists can be artists. Some people, if their intention is to just be a pop artist, then so be it.
“To me, I think Drake comes from Hip Hop,” he continued. “When I first heard him rhyming, I was like, ‘Yo, this dude rhyming.’ And if he goes out and makes songs that are popular, then that’s what it is. He’s still an MC.
“The dude is an incredible songwriter, he’s an incredible artist. You can’t touch that many people, for as long a time as he’s been doing […] This man has touched different aspects of culture and been able to continue to do it. You gotta have some respect and know that this dude is a very talented artist.”