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Listening to Stay Schemin’, Common‘s Drake diss track this morning, I was struck by this verse:

you a bitch cuz you cling like a bitch that’s 18

can’t say my name but rap about a nigga’s wife

you so black and white/ trying to live a n*gga’s life

(Italics mine)

Those lines are an old tactic often used to attack someone’s “Black-ness” if they’re mixed race. It’s a tactic Jesse Jackson used against Barack Obama when our president was running for office, it’s the same tactic Republicans also use when they take shots at Barry.

Though the lines in the above verse may read that Drake is easily read, the subtext is saying Drake isn’t Black and cannot talk about the Black experience.

Note to Common: The Black Experience isn’t something that’s specific to darker black folks who are only American. Any person of color, or woman, can have a Black Experience.

Most of Common’s diss is about Drake’s nationality, his race/culture and his relationship with his parents, one of whom is white and Canadian (his mom), and his dad, who is black and African-American. The record is scathing, clever, and all types of WTF. To call someone’s sick mother a bitch, should be beneath Common, but apparently anything goes in rap battles these days. BUT: really, Common? 

I’ve never heard a Drake song where Drake invokes the tragic mulatto trope where he’s rapping and/or singing about his confusion about being Black and Jewish or being mixed. In fact, Drake often refers to himself as a n*gga, which could mean anything these days. 

Only Drake and Common know why they’re fighting, though it’s probably the oldest reason in the world: a woman, Serena Williams to be exact. 

I’m a fan of both Drake and Common, and this lame beef of theirs is both entertaining and shocking.

It’s shocking because it arrived with lots of rhymes but lacked reason. It’s shocking because Common, a former “conscious” rapper, is throwing low blows, like a Republican. It’s entertaining because it takes our minds off the recession and our day-to-day problems.

Back in the day I used to be a Common stan, so much so that I used to fall asleep to repeats of One Day It Will All Make Sense, Common’s brilliant third CD, and used to go to all his shows at Tramps whenever he visited NYC. Common was poetic, cool and sincere on his earlier records.  

I haven’t listened to him much, not since Like Water For Chocolate or his Electric CD. I’ll blame Erykah Badu and Common’s changes which included his transition to acting and his broadening interest in fashion, his devolution.

Drake? I liked some of his records but I found him whiny and annoying. Take Care, his latest effort however, I think, is a masterpiece and will, over time, be his Thriller, not in terms of sales but emotional and experimental impact.

I expect he’ll win this beef.