Drake caused quite the controversy back in 2012 when he inadvertently claimed that Big Sean invented what is now known as "hashtag rap." The main source of the controversy was Ludacris' reaction to Drizzy's not-so-subliminal diss by saying that rappers who had recently started using Big Sean's "Supa Dupa Lemonade flow" should just stop. He referenced Luda's "It's a parade... Macy's!" line from his 2010 hit with Nicki Minaj, which admittedly was a weak effort on an already rich and famous Ludacris' part.
Refresh your memory of the Drake vs. Ludacris beef here: http://uk.complex.com/music/2017/05/drake-ludacris-beef-explained
Drake's quote from AllHipHop.com about the hashtag rap flow:
"Well, that flow has been killed by so many rappers. And, I never want to use that flow again in life. [Laughs] I wanted to take if off my album, because I was like, I shut em down. Onyx. I hate the fact that that rhyme is still in there. To be honest, that flow, you can trace it back to like , I trace it back to Big Sean (artist on Kanye Wests G.O.O.D. Music). Thats the first guy I heard utilize that flow throughout the duration of a verse. I'll give him that credit. I think Kanye got it from him. Me and Wayne found a dope way to do it. I dont want to sound cocky, but the best way its been used was on Forever. Those lines just all individually make so much sense. Theyre all punchlines. Then a bunch of rappers started doing it and using the most terrible references in the world. I dont want to offend somebody I hate that rappers picked that flow up. I wish they had left that for people that know how to use it. [They go like] Its a parade! MACYS!"In Ludacris' diss track response to Drake and Sean's comments, he samples a whole range of rappers over the years using the hashtag flow, including himself when he was very, very young. The point of the song was to show how long the flow had existed, and how silly it was that Drake was so ignorant as to all Big Sean the innovator of it.
But one name that never came up in all of that arguing was Lil Wayne's. Wayne never injected himself into the conversation stating "I was doing that before Big Sean" or "Give me credit for my hip hop innovation." On the contrary, Weezy never made a peep. It was just another example of the humility that we have seen from Lil Wayne throughout his career. But since Weezy never said anything, allow me to do it for him here.
The whole Hip Hop World knows the influence that Lil Wayne had from 2005-on with his brilliant use of similes and metaphors. Before Weezy, hip-hop was in a state of constant bragging and fact spitting. It didn't matter if what you said was true or not, the more stuff you said you had in a song, the cooler you were.
Take Ludacris' "Southern Hospitality" an absolute hip-hop classic:
"Cadillac grills, Cadillac mills, check out the oil my Cadillac spills.... Check out the hoes my Cadillac fills.... 2o inch wide, 20 inch high, hoe don't ya like my 20 inch ride.... Pretty ass clothes, pretty ass hoes, oh I how I love these pretty ass hoes."Now, I'm not cherry picking here to say Luda never used a metaphor or simile. But rappers before Wayne just didn't have the imagination to see just how crazy a song could become by exploring their full potential. Luda's verse from above is all describing and talking about how glamorous the life of a rapper is.
How 'bout 50 Cent's "In Da Club":
"When I pull up out front you see the Benz don't do, when I roll 20 deep there's 20 nine's in the club. Niggas heard I fuck with Dre now they show me love, when you sound like Eminem in the halls they wanna fuck.... When you watch how I move you mistake me for a playa or pimp. I've been hit with a few shells but I don't walk with a limp."Again, an absolute classic of a song, and one that dominated the radio for an entire year. But the song is a whole lot of describing. 50 was one of the best at telling everyone why he's so much cooler than them. He embodied being a pimp, and that's why people loved him. But as far as metaphors and similes go.... he was nowhere near that battlefield.
50 and Luda came from a different era of rappers, one in which rappers talked about how hard it was to be young and black and how hard they worked to get out of it. 50 and Luda however, came to popularity in a time when it was much easier to be a black rap star. You could come in, be hot, and then ride your wave of popularity until it fizzled out.
Lil Wayne came up in that same era. He was rapping as a young Hot Boy member at the same time Jay-Z was becoming famous and 50 was learning the ropes. But the difference between Lil Wayne and all those who came before him is that Lil Wayne was an innovator. He was a creative genius with more energy and a harder work ethic than anyone in rap years before or after. His work ethic, combined with his unique voice, southern swag, and of course, brilliant use of similes and metaphors that had never been so pervasively used, made Lil Wayne one of the greatest rappers of all time.
So let's look at a Lil Wayne hit and compare it to the other two songs above.
Lil Wayne's verse from "I Run This (Remix)":
"Holly Grove Gangsta. Eagle Street animal. I’ll have my goons Jackson like Samuel. If ya want beef bring ya cows I will cattle you. Ya I see you player, but I’m tha most valuable. I am so radical. My Lamborghini got on, a bikini that mean it's topless, you've seen it on a beach. When I screech and swerve, keep tha purp, keep tha syrup. Man I be getting on people’s nerve but people can kiss my bleepin blerp. "That song came out in 2007. Ludacris' Southern Hospitality came out in 2000, and In Da Club came out in 2003. So obviously there was plenty of time for rap to evolve, and it's a bit unfair to compare the three songs. The point is, however, that the rap that Lil Wayne was spitting in his prime was unlike anything to come before him, because of his use of similes and metaphors.
So now that we've established Lil Wayne's innovation of the heavy simile/metaphor use in rap, let's look at the difference between that style and hashtag rap.
If you take Lil Wayne's verse from "Swagga Like Us," he says:
"I got stripes.... #Adi-das."
That's a hashtag rap line.
If it were a simile he would have said:
"I've got stripes like Adi-das."
The only difference is the use of the word "like" and a pause where the word "like" would normally be.
"Swagga Like Us" was released in September of 2008. Big Sean's "Supa Dupa Lemonade" was released in January of 2010.
So there's an example of a single use of the hashtag flow from Weezy in '08, over a year before Big Sean's supposed creation of it. Even though Big Sean took the credit when Drizzy gave it to him, Big Sean has repeatedly cited Lil Wayne's influence on his rapping style. But let's look at some other examples.
Here's a line from "Ice Cream" from the October 2009 released "No Ceilings.":
"Young Money baby we the shit. #weakstomaches "
Or how about this genius line from "DOA" on No Ceilings:
"Young or old there ain't now comparing me. I just cleared that up. #momentofclarity"
Now let's be fair for a moment. Drake did say in his original quote that Big Sean's "Supa Dupa Lemonade" was the first time he had heard hashtag rap used throughout an entire verse. Well then on that note, let's listen to the rest of DOA, in which we hear these little gems:
"Do it for my team. #TimTebow nigga.Wanna walk those comments back even more Drizzy?
I'm killing this shit. #GrimReaperflow nigga.
Getting swallowed by the Maybach. #DeepThroat nigga!
I'm still in my prime. #DeonSanders"
It's clear from just that one sample that Lil Wayne was pioneering the extended use of the "hashtag rap" flow before Big Sean used it on his Finally Famous Volume 2 mixtape. You can also go back to works as early as Da Drought 3 and Dedication 2 to see how Weezy's pattern of similes and punchline rap set the easy blueprint for the evolution of the heavy hashtag rap he showed the potential for on No Ceilings 2.
In songs like "The Sky is the Limit" when Wayne raps:
"My flow is nasty like C.Y. Phillis."
Any rapper can look at that and then see the potential to take out the like and replace it with a pause.
In summary, to give Big Sean credit for the hashtag rap flow is not only incorrect but also borderline moronic. Many rappers may have used a hashtag/punchline over the years here and there, but no rapper was more influential on it than Lil Wayne. His very creation of the heavy simile/metaphor-laden rap song created the foundation for it, and his own evolution on No Ceilings 2 and other tracks gave newer rappers an exact blueprint to follow for how to use it.
This beef was obviously started and settled years ago, however, I still can't help but feel Lil Wayne still laughs anytime it's brought up, since he seems to get more pleasure out of laughing than getting credit.