Though many assumed that the beef had gone dormant following an apex in 2018, Kanye West and Drake have once again rekindled their feud. The timing is certainly curious. Both men are set to release new music, with Ye’s Donda and Drizzy’s Certified Lover Boy due in the imminent future. In fact, it’s widely speculated that they’re currently locked in a high-stakes game of chicken, in which the first to unveil a date will risk a retaliatory take over from the other.
One truly has to wonder if a same-day drop from Drake and Kanye is an inevitability at this point -- a final measuring stick aimed to solidify commercial dominance. It’s a tactic that has proven successful for Kanye in the past, with his Graduation having dethroned 50 Cent and his third studio album Curtis back in 2007. At the time, 50 was among the game’s true commercial juggernauts, coming off the release of his sextuple-platinum-certified The Massacre. By walking away with the higher first-day sales, Kanye forced fans to observe a changing-of-the-guard, launching an era that would culminate in his arguable magnum opus.
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Being the absolute egoist that he is, what better challenge exists than to outsell Drake -- the seemingly unflappable number-one-album supplier -- on a shared release date? He’s certainly been building up hype for his upcoming Donda project, having teased and delayed potential drop days with a frequency both relentless and frustrating. On the other hand, his stadium concerts have proven to be highly successful at drumming up hype, prompting fans to dive into the setlist with religious fervor; it’s not uncommon to see some celebrating Donda as Kanye’s best new music in years. Perhaps that narrative might account for Ye’s shift in attitude, from a pacifistic man of God to a conflict-seeking aggressor.
Though a Godly man may have opted to turn the other cheek, Kanye decided to unleash a full-scale assault on Drake, going so far as to leak his rival’s Toronto home address. To be fair, striking back wasn’t entirely unwarranted. On a recent collaboration with Trippie Redd, Drake took a shot at Yeezy, rapping the following:
"All these fools I'm beefin' that I barely know/ Forty-five, forty-four (burned out), let it go/ Ye ain't changin' shit, it's set in stone.”
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The allusion to the potential release-date conflict, as well as the shot at both Kanye and Pusha T’s age, was enough to spark Kanye’s combative spirit. He proceeded to go full antagonist, seemingly inviting Drake and Pusha T into the same group chat and likening himself to Joaquin Phoenix's Joker. “I live for this. I've been fucked with by nerd ass jock n****s like you my whole life,” wrote Kanye. “You will never recover. I promise you.”
Of course, his inclusion of Pusha T caused immediate chatter, with many hoping that a second round of the infamous beef was not a matter of if, but when. Lest we forget that Drake reportedly laced a “Story Of Adidon” response so scathing that J. Prince encouraged him to shelve it. And of course, Pusha has been goading Drizzy at any occasion, most recently on his Pop Smoke collaboration “Tell The Vision.” Exciting though such a prospect may be to some, others felt that Kanye was sending mixed messages. Despite claiming to “live for this,” his first move was to essentially make the battle a 2 vs. 1, allowing the mere presence of Pusha T to be a warning in itself. Not entirely far removed from getting one’s older brother in the midst of a playground scuffle.
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Shortly after, Kanye continued the onslaught with the aforementioned leaking of Drizzy’s home address -- a move that left Drake laughing, at least outwardly. It stands to reason that, at some point, a diss track has to surface from either party. Uncharacteristic though it may be for Kanye to air his frustration in the booth, his antagonistic words are essentially meaningless without the willingness to lay it on wax. It wouldn’t be the first time a modern-day rap beef was fought on social media, but the patience for antics-driven conflict only runs so deep. And let’s be honest -- nothing drives up hype for an album like a diss track, and even those on the losing end can still reap the benefits of heightened relevance.
There’s also the distinct possibility that Drake and Kanye are simply leveraging a widely-publicized rivalry into something mutually beneficial on the commercial front. Regardless of how one might feel about either camp, this newly galvanized beef serves as excellent promotion for both Certified Lover Boy and Donda, driving up hype in the weeks (?) leading up to their respective -- and potentially parallel -- releases. A few of the more conspiratorial-minded fans have even speculated that Drake was never actually included in the group chat to begin with; in other words, a media-savvy Kanye was simply making a power move ahead of his big release. And damned if it didn’t drum up hype with the quickness.
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Perhaps a lack of proper diss track -- especially given the escalatory step of a glorified doxxing exhibited by a bloodlusting Yeezy -- is a dead giveaway. Should nobody take the next logical step, be it Drake, Kanye, or Pusha, it’s possible that we’re looking at a calculated rollout play orchestrated by one, if not all of the parties involved. After all, Karen Civil did allude to Drake and Kanye being “friends,” though appearances may suggest otherwise. Given all that has transpired this past week, it feels as if it would be a missed opportunity to remain noncommittal to a release date.
On the other hand, there does appear to be genuine bad blood between Drake and Kanye, with wounds from the “Duppy” and “Adidon” exchange yet to fully heal. It’s possible that Kanye feels as if he never quite aired his grievances to the fullest, and was stricken with a wave of confidence following his JAY-Z reunion and divorce from ex-wife Kim Kardashian. In fact, seeing him stand up and fight his battles after being prodded for so long is genuinely refreshing, even if he doesn’t quite follow through with a knockout punch in the booth. And for the record, that’s where this one should end, and anything deeper than rap would be an unfortunate escalation.
One thing is certain -- both men have been trending on a daily basis ever since their rivalry resurged, and this momentum only bodes well for the inevitable releases of Donda and Certified Lover Boy. Speaking of which, three questions for you:
1) Should they indeed arrive on the same day, which of the two albums would you queue up first?
2) Who will sell more in the first week?
3) Who will deliver the better album?