By Jake Crouse
As a child, Melinda Lou Thomas, the daughter of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, had trouble pronouncing her Ls, leading her to take on the name “Wendy” versus “Melinda.”
And that legacy has stuck with the so-monikered franchise based out of Columbus, most notably in March, when Wendy’s showed its inability to take Ls from its competition, grilling them in a mixtape entitled “We Beefin?”
It only took five short tracks–ten minutes in total–for Wendy’s to claim its title as the premier burger banger, and we only had a couple days notice to prepare for what to expect. After a couple listens, it’s been decided: the franchise that boasts a Single, Double and Triple blasted a home run with its debut release.
The musical menu begins with “Twitter Fingers,” an homage to the status of Wendy’s online reputation as a no-holds-barred shot taker at McDonalds, Burger King and more. The beat sounds like one your friend would grab off of Youtube for an on-the-spot rap battle, but the conservative tactic pays off — on a debut mixtape, can you fault Wendy’s for avoiding an early flop?
It only took five short tracks–ten minutes in total–for Wendy’s to claim its title as the premier burger banger, and we only had a couple days notice to prepare for what to expect.
As expected, the first line reminds you of the difference between artist and foe: Cold with the flows but the meat ain’t frosty. The track is in one sense a compilation of well-versed, tweet-length jabs: Yo stock looking depleted/Yo wave is just receding … You Twitter beefing for some clout/Yo customers in a drought.
But it also hints at points of large history for the franchise.
It took a lot, man/
I can’t even front, I want this spot, man
While living in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas dropped out of high school to continue working at the Hobby House Restaurant when his adoptive father prepared to move to a different town. He later regretted the decision, but earned his GED and created his own successful franchise shortly after. I’d say that’s “a lot, man.”
And if you forgot where the franchise came from: Wendy from out Columbus so wake up it’s time to see her.
Established veterans in the rap industry know an important maxim of hooking the listener into a full work: never put your strongest song first. Look at some of the most hyped releases of the past few years –“If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” “DAMN,” “Culture,” “DS2” — and you’ll notice the first song is a thirst quencher, but the next few songs are where the classics are established.
Such is the case for “We Beefin?” as it moves into the jab-heavy “Holdin’ It Down,” where Wendy’s adorns itself with qualities of Socrates, accusing McDonalds and Burger King of stealing its food philosophies.
The track is fill with some of the best metaphors and similes on the album: kick it like special teams and they bring it back like rebates. But the damning charges it places on its competition are the highlight of the work — accusations of copying menus for Burger King and, most controversially, placing the blame for the Twitter beef on McDonalds.
However, in reality, it seems Wendy’s was the true instigator with a reply to McDonald’s announcement of fresh Quarter Pounder patties. Either way, even if Wendy’s started the beef, it’s putting it to rest with tracks like “Holdin’ It Down.”
Just like the fresh beef in the middle of a Single, the middle of the mixtape is what will bring the crowd back for another taste. “Rest in Grease” is the “Back to Back” of the fast food industry.
Right after creating the imagery of the youthful, redheaded Wendy with pigtails, the red hair quickly becomes a symbol for the fire against McDonalds.
We tried your food. Where the flavor at?
You number one? That’s a joke
Why your ice cream machine always broke?
Why your drive through always slow?
Why your innovation just can’t grow?
even if Wendy’s started the beef, it’s putting it to rest with tracks like “Holdin’ It Down.”
Accompanied by a beat with blaring-and-shifting bass and hi hats, as well as a futuristic synth melody, Wendy proceeds to paint McDonalds as a mediocre establishment while declaring itself “fast food’s First Lady.” And in some way, this track is reminiscent of rap’s First Lady, Nicki Minaj, in her famous tracks that call out the “bums.”
The low point of the mixtape is the penultimate track, “Clownin,” where Wendy takes a chance over an R&B-esque beat. The keys mesh with the beat and vocals in an incomplete way; however, the track does fill a space needed for the complete roast of McDonalds: defacing the clown image itself.
Got nothin’ to hide, we fresh on the side,
But you hide from funk, that’s probably why you go paint your face
My meals are great, people lining up like every day
Leave you in shame, make you run back to Cirque de Soleil
Finally, while it has its audience locked in for the finale, why not end with a note of marketing?
“We Beefin?” ends with a note of self-promotion as Wendy showcases the “4 for 4$” deal as a prime example of what makes the brand special.
One of the more impressive lyrical feats happens on the final track, when Wendy breaks down some numbers that flow from one to the other, whether by sound or clean division.
The competition tired like they just sprinted six laps
For 16 quarters come with four items, you can get that
Though the mixtape is 80 percent beef, it departs with a sweet taste reminiscent of a frosty by reminding the listener what Wendy’s food is really all about: you gettin’ blessed.
With the strong performance — the mixtape was in the Top 40 of U.S. iTunes sales the day after its release — Wendy’s has blazed yet another new trail in an industry where the biggest competition is defined by consistency, often complacency. Marketing teams and McDonalds and Burger King have a choice to make: ride the wave and face copycat accusations, or stay silent and accept the defeat?
I guess Wendy was right on “Holdin’ It Down”: can’t always have it yo way.