No Friends in the Industry

In Drake’s recent drop of Certified Lover Boy, he officially solidified his capture of the long-proclaimed and sought-after Throne. However, as with every hierarchal power move, there are political repercussions. 

If you’re one of the millions endlessly streaming CLB, you know that it takes several listens to understand the other, more hidden star on Drake’s new album: Mr. Kanye West.

Over the last decade, the Canadian rapper and Chicago native have expressed their admiration for each other, exchanged diss tracks, and, following the patterns of rap history, fought to be the true king of hip hop.

So when Drake and Kanye dropped their albums Certified Lover Boy and Donda within a week of each other, their rivalry once again flared. And at this point, there’s no denying their personal and professional careers are being both helped and hurt by each other. 

The relationship is best summarized by Drake’s 2010 song, “Thank Me Now: “Your idols become your rivals.”

A Modern-day Rivalry Timeline 
  • 2009: “Best I Ever Had” produced by Kanye: The “Best I Ever Had” video would mark Drake’s first “official video,” and the unsigned Canadian rapper expresses wanting to have a compelling visual that matched his female fans’ passion for the song. “I want women to feel special when they watch the music video,” he said. But it was just clips filled with bountiful women running around on a basketball court. The criticism for the video became so heavy that it’s no longer featured as one of Drake’s official music videos on his YouTube page. Was this the start of Kanye sabotaging Drake? 
  • 2010: From friends to frenemies: In 2010, Drake was spotted out at a club with Kanye’s most notable ex, Amber Rose, with whom he’d split from two months prior. In this same year, Drake released the aforementioned “Thank Me Now.” In addition to referring to Kanye as his rival, Drakes says, “You make friends with Mike but got to A.I. him for your survival.” Here, Drake references the notable moment when Allen Iverson crossed his idol Michael Jordan and, at this point, sees himself on the same level as his idol Kanye. 
  • 2011: Ye Protecting the Throne: “Me and Hov would’ve never made ‘Watch the Throne’ if this Drake wasn’t putting pressure on us like that.” 
  • 2013: Things heat up: “Find Your Love,” co-written and co-produced by Kanye, is released. Kanye complains about Drake’s success in interviews, saying Drake was too mainstream and the song was streaming too widely. He’s quoted for saying, “I was fine with writing ‘Find Your Love’ with Drake on his first thing until he got too big.”
  • 2016: Drake pays his dues: After Kanye joins Drake onstage at his OVO Fest, Drake tells MTV News, “he’s ‘pretty much the reason why I started rapping.” Drake continues to hint towards some tension as he says, “I think me and Kanye have wanted to express our respect for each other for a long time and sometimes rap, the business, the competitiveness and just the heart behind it forces you to not talk to the people you quietly admire.” Then, Drake released “Summer Sixteen,” in which he bragged that, “Ye’s pool is nice, mine’s just bigger’s what I’m saying.”
  • 2016 – 2018: Some peace: For years, the tension between Ye and Drake heated up, but while Drake was busy gaining his credentials as the most beefed rapper, the competition between the two seemed to ease. During this time, Ye was also focusing on his mental health in Wyoming but took to Facebook to say: “Drake verbally attacked Cudi when he was in the hospital and went at me after TMZ because I decided to release albums in June.”
2018: A String of Chaotic Events 
  • Kanye plays Switzerland: Drake’s longtime rival Pusha T released “Infrared,” which Ye produced. In the song, Pusha calls out Drake for allegedly using a ghostwriter. 
  • A war of words exposes Drake: Pusha released “The Story of Adidon” mocking Drake, mentioning Drake’s mother and revealing the secret that Drake had fathered a child with former adult-film star Sophie Brussaux. Ye later apologizes, “There should have been no songs with my involvement that had any negative energy towards you,” while stating that he did not leak the news about Drake’s son.
  • “Hold on this train going by”: Ye released a video after rumors swirled that Drake hooked up with his wife. “People making rumors or thinking you f— my wife and you’re not saying nothing… that doesn’t sit well with my spirit,” Kanye said. “You know, if I had a girlfriend from Chicago, her name was Renita, and you was married to Rihanna, I wouldn’t make no song called ‘Riri.’ So when you’re like, ‘I don’t know where it came,’ you too smart for that bro.”
  • Drake on The Shop: During an interview on LeBron James’ HBO show The Shop, Drake detailed the betrayal he felt when Kanye dropped his album, Ye, weeks before his own album, Scorpion. Before the release, Drake claimed he and Kanye had connected in the studio and he shared intimate details about his life and music.
  • Drake finally called: In Ye’s string of tweets, he again reiterated, “I told you I ain’t tell Pusha about your son.” Kanye also claimed that Drake bought the “first two rows at Pusha,” where the audience attacked Pusha in Toronto, throwing liquid on him and attempting to rush the stage. During the concert, Pusha insinuated that Drake was the one who organized the attack. “Stop this already bro. You getting people hurt out here And over what,” West wrote. He continues, “So Drake, if anything happens to me or anyone from my family, you are the first suspect — so cut the tough talk.”
  • 2021 betrayal: Drake disses Ye with the lyrics, “All these fools I’m beefin’ that I barely know / Forty-five, forty-four (burned out) let it go / ‘Ye ain’t changin’ s— for me, it’s set in stone.” Kanye responded by posting Drake’s home address on Instagram, prompting Drake to share a video of himself laughing hysterically.

Clearly, both artists have hit below the belt several times, and at this point, it’s hard to tell who threw the first shot and who responded. You could lock both artists in one room together and either expect them to come out with amazing music or for one of them not to make it out at all. Something tells me that their beef is only the start, and the influence and impact may last for generations. 

 

Her work has been published in Refinery29, Elite Daily, the Copenhagen Post, and more. She studies public relations and corporate relations at NYU. She loves reading, cheese plates, reality TV, and event planning. She lives in Williamsburg, but Miami is her second home. Follow her on Instagram @alyssa_s_ashley

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