Drake vs. Kanye West: a simple guide to a complicated feud
The rappers' most recent tiff involves the release of their highly anticipated albums
No albums have had more confusing rollouts this year than Kanye West's Donda and Drake's Certified Lover Boy. The former was scheduled to come out on July 23, while the latter originally had a January 2021 release date. But as the original weekend of Donda's release came and passed, something else was heating up instead: a feud between West and Drake.
To be clear, the two rappers have had a long and complicated history, as we illustrate below. In his early years transitioning from acting to music, Drake often name-checked West as an influence. In 2007, he even freestyled over West's Graduation cut "Barry Bonds." Later, when Drake dropped his debut album, Thank Me Later, in 2010, West appeared in its credits as a producer and co-writer on the single "Find Your Love."
The two formed a quick friendship, but as the years went by, elements of competition and comparison seeped in. While parts of the timeline below are rather innocuous, it all comes together to tell a story of two friends/foes whose tensions have seemingly led to this latest breaking point.
If you've been confused by the melange of drama, which in the past few days has included a text message screenshot, a diss verse and a leaked home address, scroll down and dive into the knotty, decade-long relationship between two of music's biggest stars.
November 2010: After a leaked snippet suggested that Drake was going to be featured on West's track "All of the Lights," the song was later released without Drake's verse. In an interview with Shade 45's morning show, Drake clarified that he was OK with the change. "Kanye's creative process is ever-changing," Drake said. "We make music differently. I make what comes to me and I hate changing it, whereas 'Ye will change something 30 or 40 times to get it perfect. To each their own, and the change was to put all those people on it, and I wasn't one of them. That's completely OK." Drake later added, about West: "I can never sit here and tell you that's not one of my idols, that's not one of my favourite rappers."
September 2010: Rumours of Drake dating West's ex-girlfriend Amber Rose surfaced after the two were spotted at a club together. Neither Drake nor Rose ever addressed these rumours.
January 2011: During an interview with Tim Westwood in London, Drake made a joking remark about West and another former collaborator of his, Jay Z, who were working on a joint album titled Watch the Throne. When asked about a potential collaborative project with his friend Lil Wayne, Drake responded: "We still got to do that album. I heard two other guys are coming out with an album together, too. There's two other rappers coming out with an album together. I don't know where they got that idea but … I caught wind of it through the grapevine that there's some other album with two guys rapping on it."
October 2011: While Drake had vocally given West credit for inspiring him over the years, he made his own goals as an artist clear in an interview with the Source, declaring: "Now, I would say, he is a really great [pause] competitor ... and friend, at the same time. My goal is to surpass everything he's accomplished. I don't want to be as good as Kanye, I want to be better."
December 2011: Months after the release of West and Jay Z's Watch the Throne, Drake referenced the album on DJ Khaled's track "I'm on One," rapping: "I'm just feeling like the throne is for the taking/ watch me take it."
Aug. 5, 2013: After a few quiet years, Drake and West reunited at the former's annual OVO Fest in Toronto. West was one of the many surprise guests that evening, with fellow guests including the Weeknd, Big Sean, Diddy, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky and more. When West came onstage, he told fans, "Me and Hov [Jay Z] would've never made Watch the Throne if this n---a wasn't putting pressure on us like that, so I just wanna pay my respects."
Feb. 13, 2014: Drake opened up about the state of his friendship with West and Jay Z in his Rolling Stone cover story. "Kanye and me are friends; we're plotting on getting some work done together," he told the magazine. Of his "I'm on One" barb, he explained: "It was a lack of communication paired with natural competitiveness." He said he felt jealous of the "monumental" moment Watch the Throne was having, but that "those two are gods to me." Still, Drake's friendship with West didn't prevent him from being critical of West's work. When discussing West's latest album, Yeezus, Drake admitted that "there were some real questionable bars on there. Like that 'Swaghili' line? Come on, man. Even Fabolous wouldn't say some shit like that."
At his New Jersey concert, West accused Rolling Stone of "always be trying to pit n----s against each other." He added: "We love Drake, we love every motherf--ker that put their heart into this motherf--king music."
Feb. 20, 2015: West appeared on the Breakfast Club and hinted at a potential album with Drake, saying that "it might happen." He also revealed that the two had previously discussed a project together titled Wolves, but that their schedules got busy with West working on Watch the Throne and Drake working on his own records and touring. Wolves was later re-worked with Vic Mensa and placed on West's 2016 album, The Life of Pablo. (A Snapchat post from producer Cashmere Cat in 2016 suggests that there was a version of "Wolves" that featured Drake and Bjork, but that was never confirmed or released.)
Jan. 30, 2016: Drake released "Summer Sixteen." On the track, Drake compares himself to West: "Now I got a house in L.A., now I got a bigger pool than Ye/ and look man, Ye's pool is nice, mine's just bigger's what I'm saying."
West, seemingly amused by this line, responded to this in an interview with the Neighborhood: "I have three pools."
Aug. 1, 2016: West appeared once again at Drake's OVO Fest. This time, West and Drake confirmed an upcoming collaborative album together. Later that month, a billboard featuring both G.O.O.D. Music (West's label) and OVO's logos appeared in L.A.
Sept. 7, 2016: In an interview with Vogue, West re-confirmed that a collaborative album is coming: "We're just working on music, working on a bunch of music together, just having fun going into the studio. We're working on an album, so there's some exciting things coming up soon." This album never materialized.
Nov. 19, 2016: West stopped in the middle of his Saint Pablo tour stop in Sacramento and launched into a rant about, among other things, radio stations overplaying DJ Khaled and Drake's single "For Free." After reiterating that "we all love Drake," West pointed out that "they set that song up, bro," suggesting that stations were paid to spin the track more often over artists West deemed worthy of air play like Frank Ocean and A$AP Rocky.
February 2017: In an interview with DJ Semtex, Drake addressed West's Saint Pablo tour rant about him and DJ Khaled. He said he was confused by West's statement "because in the same breath, I went from being … like working on a project with him, to sorta publicly shitting on me and DJ Khaled for being on the radio too much. I'm not sure why we're the target of your choice that you made that night. And yeah, I accept what you're going through, and I just go and continue working on my own thing." (In response, West denied ever saying that but video footage of that evening exists to prove otherwise.)
In that same interview, Drake also opened up about removing West from his Views track "Pop Style." Drake said he received two bars from Jay Z, which were followed by West's verse where he "goes off." But, as Drake recalled: "I'm not really sure the details between how that conversation was miscommunicated or what they were going through at that time, or what anybody felt towards me or whatever it was, I'm not really sure but next thing I knew it just became a bit of an issue." Running low on time, Drake decided to complete the song himself, adding: "I can rap as good as anybody else, so I'll just go finish this song and put forth my own version 'cause I don't really like … you know no one can dangle anything over my head in this business, I don't play that. So it just needed to be done and I did it myself and yea both versions exist, so when Kanye comes out to do it at the shows it goes crazy. I know he was really upset 'cause at that time we were working together pretty heavy and he really wanted to be on the record, but you know."
May 28, 2018: G.O.O.D. Music president Pusha T released his third studio album, Daytona, which was executive produced by West. On its closing track, "Infrared," Pusha name-checked Drake's alleged ghostwriter Quentin Miller: "It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin." On his response track, "Duppy Freestyle," Drake immediately pointed out the work he put into West's The Life of Pablo tracks "Father Stretch my Hands" and "30 Hours." He also hinted at doing more work with West, which turned out to be true when his name appeared on the Ye track "Yikes." "What do you really think of the n---a that's makin' your beats?/ I've done things for him I thought that he never would need/ father had to stretch his hands out and get it from me/ I pop style for 30 hours, then let him repeat," Drake rapped on "Duppy Freestyle."
May 29, 2018: Radio personality Ebro Darden revealed that West had recorded a verse for Drake's smash hit, "Nice For What." Although there was no evidence of such, Darden affirmed that there was a version of that track "with Kanye that we may never hear."
That same day, Pusha T responded to Drake's "Duppy Freestyle" with the explosive "The Story of Adidon" where he revealed that Drake has a son. "You are hiding a child, let that boy come home," Pusha rapped, "Deadbeat mothaf--ka playin' border patrol, ooh."
June 1, 2018: West dropped his eighth studio album, Ye. While Drake is credited on one of the tracks, many speculated that a line from another track, "No Mistakes," took a jab at Drake. "Too close to snipe you, truth told, I like you," West raps, "Too bold to type you, too rich to fight you/ calm down, you light skin."
August 2018: In an interview, West cleared up rumours that he shared information about Drake's son with Pusha T, which Pusha used in "The Story of Adidon." "I'm 'Ye, I got major things to do other than be telling him some information about Drake," West said. He later added, "People be around your family and be in your house and this and that then, they get mad about a beat and send purple demon emojis. I don't play like that, I don't play in that place…. It's like, look, it ain't no beef." Drake allegedly responded by posting a photo on Instagram with the caption "THE BOY 6666666666" with a purple demon emoji and a laughing emoji.
September 2018: Leaked footage of an unreleased Drake and French Montana music video revealed a line that referenced West's Yeezy 350 shoes: "Keeping it G, I told her don't wear no 350s around me." (In 2019, French Montana shared his thoughts on that line in an interview with Complex: "Brothers always fight. And I feel like that's what they were going through at the moment.... They live next door to each other. I just felt like, they was brothers and they was fighting. I fight with my brothers all the time.") The day after this video surfaced, West issued an apology to Drake for not speaking to Pusha T about his diss track "Infrared." West wrote, "There should have been no songs with my involvement that had any negative energy towards you." West also continued to deny that he told Pusha about Drake's child.
October 2018: Drake appeared on LeBron James' HBO series The Shop, where he opened up about his feud with Pusha T and West. Regarding Pusha T's accusation on "The Story of Adidon" that Drake was "hiding a child," the Toronto artist responded: "I knew something was gonna come up about my kid. They had to add the deadbeat dad thing to make it more appealing." He also pointed out that the information was likely given to Pusha via West, who heard an early cut of the Scorpion track "March 14" while the two were working in Wyoming.
Pusha came to West's defence, refuting Drake's claims on the Joe Budden Podcast. "The information came from 40," Pusha said, referring to Drake's producer Noah "40" Shebib. "It didn't come from Kanye, at all. 40 is sleeping with a woman, who he talks to her daily. Five, six hours a day and ultimately speaks about how he's disgruntled about certain things, notoriety and things involving Drake and his career, and so on and so forth. With that also came the fact that Drake has a child."
Dec. 13, 2018: West tweeted a screenshot of a request he received from Drake to clear the 808s and Heartbreaks track "Say You Will," which the Toronto rapper reworked in 2009 into the song "Say What's Real." West added the caption: "This proves shit faker than wrestling." He also added that Drake still owed him an apology for "mentioning the 350s and trying to take food out of your idol's kid's mouths," and concluded, "There would never be a Drake without a Kanye West so never come out your mouth with a threat." West's then-wife Kim Kardashian chimed in to echo West's messages, tweeting directly at Drake: "Never threaten my husband or our family. He paved the way for there to be a Drake. My husband is the most brilliant person, the most genius person that I know."
This proves shit faker than wrestling <a href="https://t.co/E9wzNycJna">pic.twitter.com/E9wzNycJna</a>—@kanyewest
In regards to the song clearance, West eventually updated fans, telling them that "Drake finally called," but noted: "By the way… not cleared." Oh, and remember Drake's "Summer Sixteen" pool line? "Since the pool line he's been trying to poke at me and f--k with me," West also wrote.
Since the pool line he’s been trying to poke at me and fuck with me—@kanyewest
Dec. 31, 2018: West went on a Twitter rant calling out Drake for following Kim Kardashian on Instagram. "I've never mentioned or touched on anything related to family when it came to Drake," West wrote in a series of now-deleted tweets. "He followed my wife on Instagram he mentioned Pusha's fiancé in a song." West also claimed that he "extended olive branches to talk," but that Drake "then called to threaten me." He concluded: "I don't ignore people and I also don't let people f--k with me."
July 20, 2021: West's 10th studio album, Donda, was first scheduled to be released on July 23. It's around this time that fans speculated, and joked, that Drake would surprise drop his long-awaited album, Certified Lover Boy, on the same day to compete with West. Industry insider Karen Civil responded, assuring everyone that "they friends now" and that Drake didn't plan on releasing his album on the same day as Donda.
July 24, 2021: As fans waited for the release of Donda on July 23 (the album never dropped), West affiliate Consequence took to Twitter in search of Certified Lover Boy's release: "We looking for @drake drop date." This fuelled rumours that the two stars are aiming to release their albums on the same day, to compete with one another.
We looking for <a href="https://twitter.com/Drake?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@drake</a> drop date <a href="https://twitter.com/THEREALSWIZZZ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@THEREALSWIZZZ</a> Line It Up!!!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DropYaLo?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DropYaLo</a>—@ItsTheCons
July 30, 2021: During an appearance on Sound 42's Fri Yiy Friday, Drake assured fans that Certified Lover Boy is "cooked," but added an extra warning: "Certified Lover Boy on the way, and that's for anyone in the way."
"Album's cooked -- Certified Lover Boy on the way, and that's for anyone in the way" 👀 <a href="https://t.co/OA3xoVxBDF">pic.twitter.com/OA3xoVxBDF</a>—@certifiedlando
Aug. 5, 2021: Photos of Drake's upcoming sneaker collaboration with Nike surfaced online. In an Instagram post by Hidden Magazine, West affiliate Don C dissed the shoe, writing "Plan B." In the comments, Drake's friend and head of security Chubbs jumped in and hit back, saying, "See us outside." Drake chimed in with a laughing emoji.
That same day, West held his second listening party at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There were some notable changes to Donda since the first listening party. Particularly, people noticed the addition of this line to the track, "Junya": "Move out of the way of my release/ tryna get me off my Qs and Ps/ why can't losers never lose in peace?/ Ain't nobody 'round me losing sleep/ better find God 'fore he find me." The line is presumably about Drake.
Aug. 21, 2021: Ohio rapper Trippie Redd dropped his new song "Betrayal," featuring a guest verse from Drake. In his verse, Drake appeared to take a shot at West with the lines, "All these fools I'm beefin' that I barely know/ Forty-five, fourty-four (burned out), let it go/ Ye ain't changin' shit for me, it's set in stone." (Some fans suspected this line is also aimed at West affiliates Pusha T and Consequence, the latter whom responded to this track on Twitter by writing, "F--k a Betrayal. It's the Disrespect for me dawg.")
The Drake verse triggered a series of responses from West. First, he took to social media to share a screenshot of a text thread, which appeared to include Drake and a newly added Pusha T. In the photo, which has since been deleted, West sent two messages to the eight-person thread: a photo of the Joker from the 2019 film starring Joaquin Phoenix, and a message after that, which read: "I live for this. I've been f--ked with by nerd ass jock n----s like you my whole life. You will never recover. I promise you."
Aug. 22, 2021: While Drake has yet to formally respond to West's public posts, West continued to post about the Toronto rapper, even leaking his Toronto address in a since-deleted post. While it's not a confirmed direct response, Drake did post an Instagram story of himself driving around Toronto late at night, laughing into the camera, after West revealed where he lived.