Severed friendships, shady deals, unsuspecting collaborations, and the more era-appropriate social media insults and rants—these are just a few of rap’s favorite controversies. Feuding is not unheard-of in the rap world; think back to 1995 when East Coast rapper Notorious B.I.G. dropped the track “Who Shot Ya?”—which many still speculate was unofficially dedicated to fellow rapper and former friend Tupac Shakur. Shakur fired back with the vengeful track “Hit ‘Em Up” and solidified the East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry that still exists today. More recently, however, the beef has been between the Midwest and… Canada?
That’s right. Canadian rapper Drake and Ohio’s very own Kid Cudi are publicly quarreling, and the blows are brutal. The controversy began when Kid Cudi took to Twitter in September to express his disdain with rappers’ practice of hiring ghostwriters—or uncredited lyricists who write their songs for them—a phenomenon that permeates the rap world. He mentioned Kanye West and Drake, stating that the two rappers are not truly his comrades and it was truly Scott Mescudi vs. The World.
In October, Kid Cudi decided to confide in his fans through a heartrending Facebook post detailing his ongoing battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. He divulged that he had checked into rehab so he could “fix” himself and more importantly, “learn to show love” to himself. His confession was so moving that fans created the hashtag #YouGoodMan to stand in solidarity with mental health awareness as it relates to men. However, it did not take long for Drake to take advantage of Cudi’s vulnerability.
Just after Cudi’s post, Drake released a track titled “Two Birds One Stone,” on which Kanye West is credited as a “lyricist/writer.” However, the producer of the track, Noah “40” Shebib, clarified that Kanye’s involvement only went as far as a drum sample. Nonetheless, the track makes a mockery of Kid Cudi’s mental health. Drake allegedly mistakes mental illness for weakness when he implies that the “Day ‘N’ Nite” rapper lost his mojo for being open with his fans about his inner conflict. Furthermore, Drake goes as far as stating that Kid Cudi’s use of prescription drugs has become a way for him to avoid reality altogether. Cudi responded to the disparagement by requesting a face-to-face conversation when he returns home from rehab.
Who is the real joke here? Cudi fans are infuriated by the “Jumpman’s” pettiness. By using Kid Cudi’s mental illness as a symbol of weakness and inferiority, Drake is reinforcing the stigma that surrounds mental health and men. By discussing such a taboo topic with his fans, the “Man on the Moon” showed just how down-to-earth he truly is.
The hashtag that trended shortly after Cudi’s post sparked interest in a long-overdue conversation. Men from all cultures and backgrounds are conditioned to maintain a tough facade by concealing their feelings. The result is that men are being discouraged from seeking the help they need.
Drake could learn a thing or two from the rapper with a heart of a lion. Although critics argue that Kid Cudi took slugs first, it does not excuse the child’s play to which Drake resorted. Kanye West and Big Sean are among the rappers that have a compassionate understanding for Cudi’s struggle. West reportedly dedicated a song to Cudi at a recent concert, and Big Sean admitted that despite a strained relationship, he is still praying for the “King Wizard.”
Cudi is not only vocalizing his struggles with mental illness, but also taking action to get the help he needs. He is inspiring his fans to take control of their mental health. Although he may be starting at the bottom, he assures fans that he will be back at the top in no time. #YouGoodMan