Hell hath no fury like a Drake scorned. On Sunday, the rapper formerly known as Aubrey Graham dropped four new songs on his Apple Music OVO Sound Radio show. These tracks offer a first look at the Toronto native’s upcoming project, More Life: The Playlist, as well as a window into his increasingly petty mindset. In particular, “Two Birds, One Stone,” a diss track aimed at Kid Cudi and Pusha T, truly kills two birds with one stone, making good on his doubtlessly demanding schedule of Apple Music exclusives while simultaneously cementing his status as hip-hop high school’s Least Likely to Let a Beef Go. According to my new homepage, Drake vs. Everybody, only a few rap contemporaries have escaped the wrath of the Canadian menace.
Pusha T and Aubrey Graham’s not-so-tender beef has been raw for a while; back in 2013, King Push described him and his nemesis as “polar opposites.” In this year’s track “H.G.T.V.,” Pusha T continued the verbal assault: “It’s too far gone when the realest ain’t real,” he rapped. “I walk amongst the clouds, so your ceilings ain’t real / These niggas ‘Call of Duty’ ’cause they killings ain’t real / With a questionable pen so the feeling ain’t real.” Not one to let an insult stand, Drake clapped back on his new diss track: “But really it’s you with all the drug dealer stories that’s gotta stop though / You made a couple chops and now you think you Chapo / If you ask me though you ain’t lining in the trunk with kilos / You bagging weed with all your niggas watching Pacino / Like ‘this is what we need to be on,’ but never went live / You middle man in this shit, you were never those guys.”
Drake continues, “I’m like a real estate agent, putting you niggas in your places.” Next he comes for Kid Cudi, the veteran rapper who’s recently struggled with mental health issues, suicidal ideations and depression. To be fair, Cudi fired the first shots in September, when he published a social media stream of consciousness against Drake and Kanye. But while Kanye has buried the hatchet with his beleaguered brother, Drake clearly has no intention of letting Cudi, who’s currently in treatment, off easy. “You were the man on the moon,” he raps, “now you go through your phases / Life of the angry and famous.” While it’s one thing to defend yourself, it’s quite another to mock a mentally ill peer’s “phases.” We know you’re all-American now, Aubrey, but that doesn’t mean you need to take a page from Donald Trump’s public cruelty playbook. When Kanye lets go of a grudge before you do, it might be time to admit that you have a problem.
While other wordsmiths rap poetic about drugs, poverty, and drive-bys, Drake has made a career out of verses that sound more like Tumblr drafts than true crime confessions. But despite his sad boy aesthetic (or perhaps because of it), the Canadian rapper has proven himself to be a worthy foe. Drake is the quiet kid in middle school who keeps an Arya Stark-style grudge list in his omnipresent moleskin. He may not look like a killer, but he will bury you in an avalanche of subtle digs and savage memes. No one knows this better than Meek Mill, whose 2015 rap war with Drake reduced the Philly native to his very meekest. That beef started when Meek Mill publicly accused Drake of hiring ghost writers—or as Drake would say, using “a collaborative process.” Graham quickly fired back in one of the most lopsided hip-hop battles of all times, releasing two rapid-fire diss tracks in the time it took Meek Mill to call Nicki Minaj crying. Even Minaj couldn’t save her boy toy from lines like “Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour”—honestly, Nicki probably texted that one to Drake herself.
While Drake has a long history of personality dysmorphia, pretending to be hard might be his greatest acting feat yet—this is a rapper who spent his teenage years playing a paraplegic, after all. Drake has even gone after Jay Z, street-wise hip-hop heavyweight. In 2014, Drake threw Hova under the bus in Rolling Stone, musing, “It's like Hov can't drop bars these days without at least four art references! I would love to collect at some point, but I think the whole rap/art world thing is getting kind of corny.” Now, none of us will ever get the nine minutes we spent watching “Picasso Baby” back, but that’s no excuse to go after Jay publicly.
And let’s talk about Drake calling Jay Z “corny.” This is a man who sincerely rapped “I miss the feeling of you missing me.” In an attempt to win over a reluctant Serena Williams, he not only renovated his entire body, he tied a freaking sweater around his shoulders and occupied the U.S. Open. 13-year-olds use his lyrics to caption their anniversary Instagrams. In other words, people in glass houses shouldn’t be calling rap game legends corny. Who is Drake to tell a man who started dealing crack at 14 what he can and can’t spend his money on? Jay was building an empire and a reputation back when Drake was still cashing paychecks courtesy of his CTV teen drama.
Like a shark who’s sensed blood or a Canadian with his first taste of cruelty, Drake has become powerless in the face of his own pettiness. After texting Rihanna for seven years until she finally agreed to go out with him—a move that will henceforth be known as “The Drake”—Graham made it his mission to shade all of RiRi’s exes. Take the unfortunate case of Matt Barnes, an NBA player who once made the ill-advised decision to brag about potentially banging Rihanna. These days, Barnes’ ex-wife is currently with his former teammate, Derek Fisher. Cue a Champagne Papi Instagram of the needlessly petty rapper sporting a Derek Fisher jersey, captioned “sometimes it can get grizzly”—a reference to Barnes’ former gig as a Memphis Grizzly.
This months-late clap back is like the Fuller House of shade, because there aren’t any stars involved and nobody asked for it. Drake taking a moment out of his sold-out tour to further insult the C-list Matt Barnes, a man who has never and will never sleep with Rihanna, proves that the man is truly addicted to drama. Drake didn’t just diss a dude for talking about his girlfriend—he went after a guy who lusted after Rihanna months before Aubrih curved their way into our cultural consciousness. No wonder Rihanna eventually called it quits, probably after spending hours watching Drake meticulously pick out a shady outfit and then make his handlers photograph him from all angles. Of course, there’s nothing more on-brand than the idea of Drake finally scoring his dream girl, only to waste her time bragging publicly about their relationship and going after every dude who follows her on Instagram. Still, as an entertainment writer who was forced to learn multiple sports facts in order to accurately cover this weak feud, I’m here to say that Drake’s pettiness has gone too far.
Clearly, Canadian Jewry’s prodigal son has a problem with turning the other cheek (insert Kosher beef joke here). On one hand, the fact that the world-famous rapper spends his downtime furiously maintaining his own burn book—like Regina George’s, but with even more drug pushers—keeps Drizzy relatable. Drake isn’t out there partying 24/7 and popping bands. He’s at home in Toronto listening to the new Bon Iver, checking his Rihanna Google alerts and biding his time. But his latest attempt to drag a rapper who’s publicly wrestling with his own, dire demons reads more like a Degrassi bullying plotline than a fair fight. While Drake has always been a problematic fave, from his covert sexism to his overt cheesiness, his newfound passion for kicking opponents when they’re down is far more concerning than his staff of ghostwriters or his non-strip club strip club. If Drake can’t leave the child’s play at Cheesecake, his refusal to grow up might cost him his fan base, not to mention a slew of Apple Music subscribers.