Subliminal shots are a long and storied art within rap, with MCs finding delicate and creative ways to jab at adversaries without going all-in. Sometimes, even when another rapper isn't named in a lyric, it's obvious who it's about. Often though, the subtlety to the subliminal leaves the interpretation up for debate.
So how does a rapper potentially on the receiving end of one of those camouflaged lyrical darts assess whether or not he's the intended target? This week, we got a taste of what that process can look like, and it's fascinating.
On the latest episode of his podcast, I'll Name This Podcast Later, Joe Budden — who's no stranger to verbal sparring and who's not shy about naming names on wax — breaks down whether Drake's coded language in "4PM in Calabasas" is actually aimed at him.
Some of the context behind why Drake may want to take shots at Budden can be traced back to an earlier episode of the podcast, released shortly after Aubrey's Views, where Budden — though stressing that he's an avid fan of Drake, as he does again on this episode — says he was disappointed by the album.
This time around, Joe runs through "4PM in Calabasas" pretty much bar-for-bar, pausing regularly to explain why he has a hunch certain lines are about him. His theory, essentially, is that most of the vitriol on the recently released track is pointed either in his or Diddy's direction.
He says he doesn't have any plans of responding in a song at this point — but it sounds like if a Drake and French Montana collab that Budden theorized will take shots at him actually does, that could change.
They start discussing the song around the 23-minute mark, and Joe zeroes in on whether and how he's involved at about the 29-minute mark.