Like anyone who lives in southern New Jersey, I consider myself a Philadelphian, and as a Philadelphian I am still licking my wounds from this past week. It was a long week, one in which the Phillies traded away Cole Hamels, and Bill Cosby was rightfully shunned into oblivion. But the greatest defeat of them all came in one of the most one-sided rap battles of all time.
From what I can tell, Robert Rahmeek “Meek Mill” Williams is a rapper, from Philadelphia, or at least was one before he started a rap beef against Drake. Everyone knows Drake, the Canadian with the gawky smile who sings and raps and possibly even writes his own songs, though he is perhaps most famous for being North America’s Front Runner. Drake appears at sporting events, seeming to root, root, root for the home team, unless the other team is better. It might be a testament to the recent state of Philadelphia sports that I don’t remember Drake rep Philly; when you Google “Drake Philadelphia”, you get luxury apartments. As of last Tuesday, I had no beef with Aubrey “Drake” Graham, and Drake had no beef with me.
And then he had to bring up Joe fucking Carter.
As you can tell, we Philadelphians have a bit of an inferiority complex, as The City of Brotherly Love is so close to the cultural center of New York, the power center of Washington, D.C., and whatever Baltimore has. (Crabs, I guess.) When it comes to sports, it’s no different, especially if, like me, you were born too late for the early 80’s glory days of all four local teams. We have the 2008 World Series, but when you see so many other teams and cities win so much more, and lose in much less heartbreaking fashion, you tend to become bitter. A world where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won the Super Bowl before the Eagles is one I struggle to live in.
I was nine when my Phillies lost to Drake’s Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series. Thankfully I was sent to bed early that fateful Saturday night when Joe Carter [inaudible muttering about Mitch Williams], but hearing about it at the Hostess bakery thrift shop the next morning was traumatic enough. Flash forward to 2015, and Drake releases “Back To Back”, an aural reminder of his greatness and of a moment I give the finger to whenever it is replayed. It’s not Jay-Z’s “The Takeover”, as far as diss tracks go, but what is.
Meek Mill’s answer track, however, is like a term paper you pad to get to the proper length, days late. The rumor about Drake being peed on literally feels like making six pages of material out of five. The song is all over the place; just as soon as it gets going, it slows down to a halt and never regains its Jim Johnston-aided momentum after it speeds back up. In the end, the most inspired part of “Wanna Know” was the photoshop of Drake as Milli Vanilli singer Fabrice Morvan, as well as the mass Twitter backlash against Meek Mill.
And yet Philadelphia is not one to back down from a fight they have clearly lost. Even though Meek Mill brought a spork to a gunfight, the good people of the Delaware Valley won’t rest until Canada pays for having won a baseball game against us twenty-two years ago. Ryerson University and McMaster University, of Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, respectively, teamed up to build hitchBOT, a robot ambassador who was to travel across the USA, spreading goodwill and pacifying America before the inevitable Canadian robot uprising. The other night some unknown wannabe Sarah Connor in a sweet Randall Cunningham throwback did his part to stop The Machines, vandalizing the robot beyond immediate repair.
While I obviously cannot condone the actions of the Rich Kotite-era Eagles fan, this does make me kinda chuckle. The most Philadelphian reaction to seeing someone or something wear a false smile is to seethe with rage, both angry and jealous that a robot can be so upbeat about 95 degree heat and the local sports teams sucking, but you can’t. That the Eagles seem to be pro-Drake in the Great Rap Battle of 2015 doesn’t matter; we seek revenge against Canada independently of conventional wisdom and common sense.
I do not know what will become of Philadelphia’s deteriorating relationship with southern Ontario. As late as 1998, both regions teamed up to create something beautiful, in the form of the Tony Danza TV movie The Garbage Picking Field Goal-Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon. We may never see such a collaboration again, and pretty soon might re-edit Uncle Buck so it stars David Brenner instead of John Candy. Come October, if we even live to see October with the way things are going, I can’t conceivably root for Ben Revere, the ex-Phillie turned Blue Jay turncoat who will inevitably lead Toronto to their third World Series. Maybe it will take a Toronto Blue Jay victory to vanquish the demons of 1993, or at least finally get Ontario to shut the hell up about Joe Carter. But even a miracle might not be enough to get Meek Mill back on top.
Tom Keiser lives and writes outside of Philadelphia, but his heart lies inside of Philadelphia.