Boy, rap sure has undergone a lot of changes in the last 40 years or so. While pioneers like Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, and the Sugarhill Gang used their music to shine a light on the day to day lives of young black men in the inner city while still delivering a beat you could dance to, it soon turned more... Aggressive, let's say (hi, Public Enemy!). This gave way to gangsta rap, which gave way to feuds, and now, in 2016, we have Drake. Let's explore what Drake's "Pop Style" is about, because his lyrics are a bit more nuanced than "It's like a jungle out there."
Rap feuds are not what they were 20 years ago, let's get that out of the way. And that's a good thing! As an Old, I remember when Tupac and Biggie were murdered, and I'm sure the youths don't need me to explain why murder is a bad thing. While running afoul of certain rappers or producers in the '90s could get someone killed or allegedly dangled off of a balcony, today's feuds are mainly centered around insult tracks and mean tweets, and it looks like that's where "Pop Style" fits in.
According to the rap-annotation site Genius, which crowdsources lyric translation, "pop style" is a Jamaican slang term for showing off. Bragging about how much money one has is nothing new in rap; we've all seen the tricked-out SUVs and the champagne being sprayed on... guests. Drake begins the track by mentioning the fact that he's "dumb rich" (from all those Degrassi residuals?) and calling attention to his extensive chain collection before addressing his haters: "And I like to finish what you think you started/Man you boys just got to Hollywood, you boys just started/You don't know what you just started." So who exactly started something?
Well, Meek Mill, for one. Mill, better known as Nicki Minaj's boyfriend to most people, kind of started a fight with Drake when he complained on Twitter that Drake didn't help promote his album, then he accused Drake of using ghostwriters. The two have since exchanged diss tracks, some more obvious than others, and it seems that "Pop Style" may just be the latest in a long, slightly boring feud that will probably never end, because honestly, it's fantastic publicity for both of them.
In fact, the very day after "Pop Style" was released, Mill dropped "Trap Vibes," which finds him rapping over Drake's "Summer Sixteen." A bold move, since he's currently on house arrest and not allowed to record any new music. So did Mill violate parole just to irk Drake? Or was "Trap Vibes" recorded ages ago, and Mill was just waiting for Drake to release something new before he responded? Either way, their feud is a little silly. Most fans don't care who wrote what or how much money is in anyone's bank account; they just want to enjoy the music. So go do that. Dance to "Pop Style" in the club. Blast "Trap Vibes" at a party. Because it's pretty light for a feud.