From there, entourage members on both sides started chirping at each other on social media, as sure a sign as any that shit was getting real. Longtime Kanye confidant Don C took a jab at Drake’s new Nike sneaker on IG, prompting Drake’s loyal muscle Chubbs to reply, “See us outside.” (Drake, cryptically, also jumped into the fray with laughing and blind man emojis.) Rick Ross, who has worked with both artists, said “I love it” of the beef in an appearance on SiriusXM’s The Mike Muse Show, and added that Drake shared a cryptic text with him.
“He said, ‘Everything is unfolding. I’m about to be as free as a bird.’ And he put the caption with the owl,” Ross says. “And I just, I couldn’t do nothing but put ‘Hahahaha’ because to me, I understand the genius to both of these artists, and I understand this is nothing personal to them. This is two levels of creativity inspiring each other.”
Drake then brought the conversation back to wax (and mentioned West by name) in a verse on Trippie Redd’s “Betrayal,” released on August 20. “All these fools I’m beefin’ that I barely know/Forty-five, forty-four, let it go/Ye ain’t changin’ shit for me, it’s set in stone,” he says, alluding West and Pusha-T’s ages, as well as the incessant speculation over release dates. Kanye collaborator Consequence responded specifically to these bars on Twitter, writing “Fuck a Betrayal. It’s the Disrespect for me dawg.”
Then, as they so often do, things got nuclear in the group chat. On August 21, West briefly shared a screenshot of his phone on Instagram, specifically a nine member group text that featured Pusha-T and people by the initials J, M, B, V, F, B, T—and, most importantly, D (thought widely to be Drake himself).
West posted a picture of Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker, and wrote, “I live for this. I’ve been fucked with by nerd ass jock n***as like you my whole life. You will never recover. I promise you.”
A few days later, on August 23, West appeared to truly go “Joker mode” by sharing what seemed to be Drake’s Toronto address in an Instagram post he eventually deleted. The Canadian rapper downplayed the leak by posting a video of himself chuckling on Instagram later that night.
The most consistent quality about the DONDA rollout has been West’s propensity for tweaks, so don’t be surprised if he adds more fuel to the fire in short order. As for Drake? His 2018 record Scorpion was loaded with lyrics many thought took Kanye and co. to task, and he’s never shied away from provocative lyrics that send the music internet into a tizzy.
Since we’ve heard very little of Certified Lover Boy—but we know it’s “cooked”—the appearance of any Kanye-related lyrics referencing the events of the last few weeks would imply that Drake went back to the studio to update it. Kanye’s focus, meanwhile, is seemingly on putting together a spectacle for his latest show. Pusha-T has remained silent on the matter—but, it should be noted, he’s also finishing up his own album. Three years ago he was the match that sparked Kanye and Drake’s cold war into a full on inferno. He’s just one of several wild cards that could make this weekend memorable one way or the other.
There will inevitably be another chapter in the storied Drake-Kanye rivalry, and both parties are surely hoping the animosity fuels the kind of sales spike West and 50 Cent enjoyed all those years ago. But West won that battle with a resounding victory. If the two albums do go head-to-head this weekend, it’s unclear who will emerge victorious this time around.