In 2009, Drake’s then-novel combination of singing and rapping earned him comparisons to Kanye West’s 808s And Heartbreak work, and Drizzy loved every minute of it.
« Before I ever got the chance to meet him, Kanye West shaped a lot of what I do, as far as music goes, » Drake told MTV News. « We always, always, always took the time to listen to Kanye’s music and appreciate it beyond. … He has one of the best ears in music, period. He knows how to recognize great music that’s not his. He knows how to utilize great sounds and great music. So before I met him, I had the utmost respect for Kanye West. I’d even go as far as to say he’s the most influential person as far as a musician that I’d ever had in my life. »
Drake had previously remixed West’s music before hitting it big, and when he did, West directed his music video for « Best I Ever Had. » They were pals! That camaraderie would come and go a lot over the next decade, seemingly coming to a head in December 2018 when West alleged that Drake threatened him and his family.
What the heck happened between these two? As it turns out, there’s a lot of history behind the Kanye West’s beef with Drake.
Was Drake involved with Kanye West’s ex, Amber Rose?
Kanye West dated Amber Rose for two years before they split up in 2010 — the same year Rose appeared in Nicki Minaj’s « Massive Attack » music video with Drake. NME reported that Drake was slated to appear on West’s song « All Of The Lights » but his verse, while on a leaked demo, never made the final cut.
Rose has been spotted out and about with Drake since then, sparking dating rumors each time. Page Six reported in January 2016 that the pair were spotted « on a private dinner » in Miami « behind curtains, » and Hollywood Life claimed that Drake was with Rose at the Soho Beach House resort — and that he even rented out the Edition bowling alley, including the club’s ice skating rink, while they were in the city.
However, Rose later somewhat denied dating Drake, telling reporter Carlo De Santis, « I’ve known Drake for seven years now, so it’s like, every time me and Drake hang out, it’s like, ‘They’re dating!’ So, um, I don’t know, it just happens, it’s part of my life, I guess. » Notice that she never said she didn’t date him — a factor that may have made West side-eye his onetime pal.
To her credit, they may have simply been discussing work — she reportedly appeared on the intro to « Faithful » from Drake’s 2016 album Views.
Drake shaded The Throne
In January 2011, Jay-Z and Kanye West announced they’d drop Watch The Throne together, leading Drake to either shade them or offer some good-natured ribbing, depending on your interpretation. He told Miss Info (via HipHopDX) that he and Lil’ Wayne were collaborating on an album as well, quipping, « 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 are 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. »
Later that year, October’s Very Own hinted that he felt a rivalry with West, telling The Source (via NME), « When I was a kid trying to figure out what I liked, it was Ye who I related to the most. He was an artist, in every sense, from his cover art to his music. Now, I would say, he is a really great 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. »
Drake fired another possible shot in 2011 with another thinly-veiled remark about West (and Jay-Z), saying in his verse on DJ Khaled’s « I’m On One, » « I’m just feeling like the throne is for the taking / Watch me take it. »
They were close, but not for long
After nearly two years of not speaking, Kanye West and Drake reconciled, with West appearing onstage at Drake’s OVO Fest in Toronto in August 2013 and telling the crowd that competition from Drake was the reason he and Jay-Z created Watch The Throne and said how impressed he was with how much Drake did for his hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Late that month, Drake explained (via NME) of the brief beef that he and West hadn’t spoken « in so long and all this stuff got built up, » but that things were currently fine.
By February 2014, however, Drake was back to dragging West in the press, telling Rolling Stone that he and West were friends and planned to work together — and praised Watch The Throne. Seemingly in his next breath however, he said of West’s album Yeezus, « There were some real questionable bars on there. Like that ‘Swaghili’ line? Come on, man. » Still, he closed his West commentary with, « Kanye’s the reason I’m here. I love everything about that guy. »
He later denied ever mentioning the « Swaghili » line and dissing West (though Rolling Stone stood by their story). West publicly forgave Drake and turned on the media for pitting them against one another.
They had issues collaborating
In February 2015, Kanye West announced on The Breakfast Club that he and Drake were working on a collaboration record. That March, he also referred to Drake in an interview as « an amazing sparring partner. »
That collaboration record never happened, but by January 2016, Drake referenced West in a bar on « Summer Sixteen, » rapping, « Now I got a pool bigger than Ye / And look man, Ye’s pool is nice, mine’s just bigger is what I’m saying. » After online comparisons of said pools, West responded, « I have three pools. »
Fast forward to February 2016: West released the track « Wolves » — the working title of the ill-fated Drake collaboration — but Drake wasn’t on it wasn’t on it. That April, Drake dropped « Pop Style, » which was supposed to feature Jay-Z and/or West, but those verses were removed. Though some speculated that Drake may have been retaliating for his removal from « Wolves, » Drake denied any feuding in general, later telling Zane Lowe (via Complex), « Ye is one of my favorite people, period, in the world, man. I love Ye. … He is part of the reason I am here right now. »
West’s G.O.O.D. Music and Drake’s OVO then shared a billboard hinting at a possible collaboration in August 2016 (and Drake nabbed co-writing credits on some Life Of Pablo tracks). Unfortunately, « Pop Style » didn’t pan out. West said in October 2016 that conflicts over Drake’s Apple Music and Hov’s Tidal contracts killed the collaboration.
Kanye West accused Drake of payola
In November 2016, Kanye West called out Drake and DJ Khaled for allegedly using payola tactics to get their hit « For Free » all over radio, telling the crowd at the Sacramento, Calif. stop of his Saint Pablo tour, « Is it just me or did you hear that song so many times? You say you wanna play for free … You know what it is, though? Because aye, I love Drake, I love Khaled, but they set that song up, bro. »
This peeved Drake, who griped to Nation Of Billions in February 2017, « I’m not really sure what he’s referring to half the time, ’cause in the same breath, I went from being … like working on a project with him, to him sorta publicly s***ting on me and DJ Khaled for being on the radio too much. » He added, « When I hear that, I just distance myself from it … if that’s what it is, I don’t really even understand the point you’re trying to make, but whatever it is that you’re going through, I accept it, I don’t respect it at all … I feel like me and Khaled are just good people, I’m not sure why we’re the target of your choice that you made that night. »
Drake’s baby mama drama was exposed
In May 2017, TMZ reported that adult film star Sophie Brussaux claimed she was pregnant with Drake’s child, which Drake’s rep denied, but TMZ reported a year later that Drake had been sending Brussaux money since just before the birth of their son, Adonis.
Pusha T, who’s signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, released « The Story of Adidon, » in May 2018, a brutal diss track against Drake in which he referenced Adonis and Brussaux by name. After the track’s release, Drake said on HBO’s The Shop (via Spin) that he believed West told Pusha T about his baby mama drama, which West and Pusha T each denied. Drizzy even said that he recorded a scathing response diss to Pusha T, which included « terrible things, » but he shelved it, because « this is not something I ever want to be remembered for. »
Drake also accused West of fishing for information on Drake’s Scorpion release date, and for using the beat to « Lift Yourself » even though Drake wanted it, both of which West apologized for in September 2018. However, that same month, Drake dropped another apparent Yeezy diss, rapping, « I told her don’t wear no 350s around me, » likely referring to West’s Yeezy 350 sneakers. Perhaps that’s why in October 2018, Pusha T described Drake and West’s relationship to The Joe Budden Podcast (via Rolling Stone) as « fake friends. »
Kanye West accused Drake of rapping about hooking up with Kim Kardashian
It wasn’t until Drake rapped about Kim Kardashian that Yeezy’s designer gloves came off. After Drake released « In My Feelings, » in which he talks about geographically going to a home that could be the Kardashian-Wests’ abode and raps about a woman named « KiKi » — one of Kardashian’s nicknames — the world, including Kardashian ex Nick Cannon and Snoop Dogg, speculated that Drizzy and Kardashian may have hooked up.
Kardashian denied it, but West went full Yeezy — about all of it. In a series of deleted Instagram videos (via TMZ), West griped about Cannon speaking about Kardashian, as well as about Drake, saying, « if I wasn’t in a medicated state I might have thought or had the wherewithal to say, ‘Hey Pusha, don’t diss Drake on my beat.’ I spoke about that and I took accountability for that … Now what I’m looking for for my spirit to take accountability for is, the fact that it’s people making rumors or thinking that you f***ed my wife and you not saying nothin’ and you carrying it like that, that don’t sit well my spirit. You know, if I had a girlfriend from Chicago and her name was Renita, and you was married to Rihanna, I wouldn’t make no song called ‘RiRi.’ «
West also denied once more giving Pusha T any information about Drake’s baby mama, and warned Drake against rapping about « Kylies and Kendalls » out of respect to Travis Scott.
Pusha T dissed Drake and accused him of a concert attack
In November 2018, Pusha T performed in front of a large screen that said « F**k Drake. » Considering all that had previously transpired, it’s understandable that Drake took it personally, but Pusha blamed a stage tech for the incident.
About a week later, The Blast reported that during a Pusha T concert at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto — Drizzy’s home base — audience members threw water bottles, beer, and paint at the stage and tried to jump over barricades to attack him, all while allegedly screaming about Drake. Complex reported that some witnesses claimed some of the rowdy crowd members actually rushed the stage and that security had to escort several out; witnesses claimed Pusha T blamed Drake for the melee. The site reported that there were whispers that « Drake (or people affiliated with him) » bought 200 tickets to Pusha T’s show out of spite and « to cause a scene. » Thankfully no one was hurt in the brawl, and the show went on as planned.
Kanye West accused Drake of threatening him
In December 2018, Kanye West went on an epic Twitter tirade that sent ripples throughout the rap world and beyond.
Entertainment Weekly reported the tweetstorm began with West posting a screenshot of a text message asking if Drake could clear a sample of « Say What’s Real, » which was Drake’s own 2009 remix of West’s track « Say You Will. » West captioned the screengrab, « This proves s**t faker than wrestling. » West then tweeted that he wanted an apology from Drake about his « 350s » line, and added, « Been trying to meet with you for 6 months bro. » Yeezy also accused Drizzy of « sneak dissing on trav records, » while at the same time « texting Kris [Jenner] » and politely asking about the family. West then demanded personal apologies, « Not through scooter [Braun] either. Not through Travis [Scott]. »
West also referenced the Pusha T incident from November 2018, tweeting, « Buying first two rows at Pusha show got me hot bro. » He later added, « The kid he had run on stage at Pushas concert is in critical condition. » It’s unclear what kid he was referring to, as there weren’t reports of anyone getting hurt at the concert. He then tweeted that Drake finally called him to threaten him — and that he refused to clear the sample Drake requested.
After the tirade, TMZ reported that Drake increased security at his Hidden Hills, Calif., home, which is only half a mile from where West and Kim Kardashian reside.
Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson inserted themselves into the drama
After Kanye’s over 80 tweets directed at Drake, Ariana Grande inserted herself into the drama, writing the since-deleted tweet (via People), « Guys, i know there are grown men arguing online rn but miley [Cyrus] and i dropping our beautiful, new songs tonight so if y’all could please jus behave for just like a few hours so the girls can shine that’d be so sick thank u. »
West replied that while he knew Grande « didn’t mean no harm » with her comment, he needed to take a stand, because « people will no longer take mental health for a joke. » He added, « All of this foolishness weighed on my mental health so @ArianaGrande you know I got love for you but until you’re ready to really make sure everyone’s ok don’t use me or this moment to promote a song. »
Grande replied, « With all due respect, i don’t need to use anyone to promote anything. period. i was making a comment ab what men were doing at the time vs. women. it was a joke which i understand now was probably insensitive. i apologize if i was in any way triggering and hope u feel well today. »
Grande’s ex Pete Davidson showed support for West, then he posted an alarming message that many took as a suicidal cry for help, leading police to perform a welfare check on the comedian.
Kanye West accused Drake of having a history of mocking mental illness
Aside from the aforementioned Ariana Grande melodrama, others were also dragged into the mix. Kanye West accused Drake of mocking mental illness in the case of Kid Cudi, tweeting, « Drake verbally attacked Cudi when he was in the hospital and went at me after TMZ because I decided to release albums in June. Is snowballed and he refused to meet with me but texted my mother in law and did sneak disses on peoples records that I consider family. »
West wasn’t necessarily wrong: In Drake’s 2016 diss track aimed at Cudi, « Two Birds One Stone, » he rapped, « You were the man on the moon, now you just go through your phases / Life of the angry and famous … You stay xanned and perc’d up, so when reality set in, you don’t gotta face it. Look what happens soon as you talk to me crazy / Is you crazy? »
Drake’s Cudi diss came after Cudi revealed in Billboard that he’d struggled with depression and drug abuse. A month before Drake’s diss, Cudi revealed that he’d entered rehab to cope with his issues, which included suicidal urges.
Baby mamas got involved
Drake and Kanye West’s beef didn’t sit well with the respective mothers of their children, who each chimed in on social media about the drama.
Kim Kardashian tweeted, « My husband is the most brilliant person, the most genius person that I know. He has broken so many boundaries, everything from music, stage design, fashion and culture and will continue to change the world. » She added, « @drake Never threaten my husband or our family. He paved the way for there to be a Drake. »
Despite defending her man, a source told People that West never consults his wife before tweeting and that the « unpredictably » stresses her out. Meanwhile, Sophie Brussaux defended Drake, commenting on a screencap of Ariana Grande’s tweets (via E! News), « I would hardly call Kanye arguing with himself ‘grown men.' »
The family drama extended to West’s sister-in-law, Kylie Jenner, and her baby daddy, Travis Scott, with The Blast reporting that he may have accidentally revealed that Scott and Jenner are married — but Jenner later took to Twitter to reveal that they’d worked everything out privately and are all good.