The Subliminal Diss.
My personal definition is:
“A verbal method of attack used to retaliate against a person that has disrespected you, without exposing yourself to the damaging of your brand. It is also used to cause doubt within the recipient of the attack or can be used to reveal a person’s true intentions by appealing to their emotional side.”
This is my personal definition and is probably the hip hop definition of the phrase as well. There are other names for it such as “sneak diss” or “slick talk” but it all boils down to the same thing. A rapper disses another rapper, without actually engaging in battle.
Where does it come from? What’s the most effective use of the practice and what event should warrant its application?
No one can truly trace the origins of the subliminal diss in hip hop, but it has been in hip hop battles since the early days. Where ever there has been lyrical war the DNA of a subliminal diss can be found at the crime scene. Some have used it as a tool to find out who their true allies are. Others have used it to chastise a fellow rapper that got too reckless in his magazine interviews. There are various reasons it was used. And there’s also no doubt that it was used by some of the largest names in hip hop history to initiate or further lyrical confrontations.
But within hip hop battles the unwritten rule has always been to use the subliminal diss in moderation. The tactic was always used as a preface to actual full blown lyrical battle. There have been very few hip hop giants that have used it as their only weapon, instead of battling. If you were wearing the crown of “Hip Hop King” or if you were one of the many that wanted to take the crown from a perceived unworthy individual, you had to confront them, man to man, on wax. A sneak diss wouldn’t do. You had to take the crown in the least deceptive and overtly in-your-face method, for the world to see.
On April 1st Drake released the track “Draft Day”. The beat is pure fire and Drake kills the track on some no-singing hip hop stuff. This is the Drake that most people expected when he first moved to Young Money. Hardcore tracks with impressive flow and dominating ability.
But within those tracks are a large amount of sneak disses aimed at various individuals. The consensus in the hip hop community seems to be that the largest target is Jay Z. Here’s a sample:
“Just hits no misses, that’s for the married folks…” ---Drake, taken from the song “Draft Day”.
“I heard they talking crazy, I was out of town/You know they love to pop all that sh*t when I’m not around/But when I’m here, psst, not a sound/That’ll make me snap, jot it down/ go in the booth and lay a body down” ---Drake, taken from the song “Draft Day”
Those two statements are an example of a perfectly placed subliminal diss. You don’t mention any names but everyone clearly knows who you’re talking about. Flawless delivery.
But let’s dig a little deeper…
On the surface it seems that Drake has a legitimate beef with Jay Z. In his recent track with Jay Electronica, Jay Z shoots his own brand of a sneak diss. Check it:
“Sorry Mrs. Drizzy for so much I talk/Silly me rapping about s*** that I really bought/While these rappers rap about guns that they ain’t shot/and a bunch of other silly s*** that they ain’t got” ---Jay Z, taken from the song “We Made It” featuring Jay Electronica
For those that thought Jay Z didn’t have it in him because he’s 44, those lyrics smacked Drake in the face and forced him to reply. But why did Jay Z go at Drake in the first place?
Here’s what started it all…
“It’s like Hov can’t drop bars these days without at least four art references,” Drake said in the interview. “I would love to collect [art] at some point, but I think the whole rap/art world thing is getting kind of corny.” ---Drake’s Rolling Stone interview, as reported by Hollywood Life on February 13, 2014
Now personally I have continuously complained about Jigga’s constant talking about what he has. Nobody wants to hear a commercial about a bunch of things they can’t afford. Jay Z’s rhymes sound like the worst kind of product pushing.
But with that being said, Drake is wrong.
First of all, Jay Z has done nothing but been supportive of Drake’s career. From the very first album he has enlisted people from his team to offer the assist. Kanye, Rhianna, Beyonce, and even Jay Z himself has been on the albums. Granted, the benefits were a two-way street. Jay Z extended his shelf life by being attached to a hot up and coming artist in exchange for that access. It was mostly business.
But if I had the same kind of business/personal relationship that Jay Z supposedly had with Drake, I’d give my man a sidebar or even better, I’d keep my opinions to myself. While I may be the sales king in terms of moving units, everyone in hip hop knows who’s been wearing that crown and the numerous reasons he has held it for so many years.
And the last reason Drake shouldn’t be talking about Jay Z is because he’s guilty of the same thing! He frequently talks about his cars and what he has too. So just because Drake only said it 10 times, Jay Z shouldn't say it 12 times?
All of this subliminal dissing was started by Drake’s ego and him feeling he has the right to dictate what others in hip hop should be doing. And he’s wrong.
Ultimately I think this will get squashed. Drake’s heart is pumping Kool-Aid in the courage department and he won’t even stand up to someone like Kendrick, let alone Jay Z. But maybe he needs to check his ego and discontinue his usage of the subliminal diss because one of these days somebody’s going to force him to prove his worth. And he might not be able to handle it.