A Timeline of JAY-Z and Drake's Competitive Relationship
On Monday night, JAY-Z and Drake caused an uproar as footage made rounds on social media of the two rap heavyweights embracing and posing for a photo at the On the Run II tour stop in Detroit .
Fans praised the scene, as it was a rare moment between the God MC and the 6 God following their collaborative efforts on Drake’s Scorpion standout “Talk Up.” Despite it being the topic of discussion the last few days, the meet-up at Detroit's Ford Field was just one interaction in their long, puzzling history with each other.
The relationship between JAY-Z and Drake has been one of the most unpredictable and perplexing rap bonds in recent memory. The two will forever be linked thanks to the similar paths both men have taken in their careers. What started as a growing relationship on Jay’s “Off That” and Drake’s “Light Up” turned into an on-again, off-again battle of words. For the last nine years, Hov and Drizzy have shared numerous jabs on wax and delivered various compliments to each other while also showing a mutual respect on several different occasions. It’s difficult to discern if their relationship is hostile or pleasant at times.
As we continue to gawk at the soon-to-be legendary photo, here’s a timeline of JAY-Z and Drake’s roller-coaster relationship.
September 2009: JAY-Z Taps Drake for Blueprint 3’s “Off That”
The relationship between Drake and Jay got off to a good start when Jay tapped the Toronto MC for a guest feature on the hook to The Blueprint 3’s “Off That” —- just six months after Drake’s breakthrough mixtape So Far Gone. Drake was one of the hottest burgeoning MCs at the time and in true JAY-Z fashion, he gave the rising star a platform. Unfortunately, the collaboration wasn’t favored, as people wanted more than just a Drake hook on a JAY-Z collab. Despite the tepid reception, Hov’s coveted co-sign was just the start to the long history between the two.
June 2010: Drake Calls on JAY-Z for “Light Up”
After the lukewarm “Off That,” fans got a proper JAY-Z and Drake collab when they linked up on “Light Up” off Drake’s debut album Thank Me Later. Drake got the chance to flex his lyrical muscle against Jay’s wordplay wizardry and the result delighted fans. As Drake described aspirations and his ascent to the top in his lyrics, Hov gave the 6 God a word of advice on what it would be like to make that climb. It was a promising moment between the two.
May 2011: Drake Takes Aim at the Throne With “I’m on One”
2011 was an important year for both Drizzy and Hov. Jay and Kanye were in the process of releasing their highly anticipated album Watch the Throne, while Drake was quickly becoming the most popular rapper in the game with his ferocious guest features (“In the Morning,” “She Will”) and a slew of loosies (“Club Paradise,” “Trust Issues,” “Dreams Money Can Buy”). His guest feature on DJ Khaled’s “I’m on One” would be one of the best of the year, as Drizzy rapped about his work ethic and ascent to the top of the rap mountain.
The closing lines on Drizzy’s verse had people think he was dissing Jay and Kanye, when Drake spit, “I’m just feeling like the throne is for the taking/ Watch me take it.” Drake quickly denied on Twitter any shots being thrown, and Jay acknowledged no offense was taken but it was clear the first punch was thrown.
August 2011: Drake Defends Lil Wayne on “It’s Good”
Hov has had numerous on-again, off-again relationships with fellow rappers, and his ties with Lil Wayne is no different. Back in 2009, Birdman stated Weezy was better than Jay, due to Wayne having more money than him. Jay fired back a year later on the Watch the Throne lead single “H.A.M,” rapping, “I’m like, ‘Really? Half a billi n---a, really?’ You got Baby money/ Keep it real with n---as, n---as ain’t got my lady’s money.” Wayne clapped back viciously on Tha Carter IV cut “It’s Good,” threatening to kidnap Jay’s woman for ransom.
At the time, people felt Jay and Kanye had grown lazy with the disappointing “H.A.M,” so Drake, who rarely misses an opportunity to call out his elders' laziness, defended the Young Money captain by taking a subliminal shot of his own. “Please pardon my brother, he’s just angry at you n---as/ Who don’t have your heart in your rap shit and got too fucking comfy,” Drake rapped.
November 2011: Drake's "Best I Ever Had" Loses to “D.O.A” at ‘09 Grammys, JAY-Z Congratulates Drake’s Success With Take Care.
In an interview with Billboard, Drake mentioned his displeasure with Hov beating him for best rap solo performance at the 2009 Grammys. “The one that really got to me was when I lost to “D.O.A.” for “Best I Ever Had.” That one to me was, like, really? Not to say that Jay-Z isn’t the most incredible rapper and that “D.O.A.” wasn’t a good song. I just felt like they had an option to give me a Grammy for a mixtape, and they just didn’t do it [laughs]. Because it goes against the grain of everything that is traditional,” Drake said.
A few weeks later following the impressive first week sales of Take Care, Hov congratulated Drake in a handwritten note that he shared on his October’s Very Own blog. In the note, Hov writes: “Monster number comes in. Proud of your journey. Peace. Hov.” With nearly everyone believing a feud was brewing thanks to Drizzy’s subliminal shots, Jay quieted those rumors with a simple sign of respect.
September 2013: Drake & Hov Team Up for “Pound Cake," Calls Hov “An Incredible Mentor.”
After the back and forth in 2011, we didn’t hear much in regards to Drake and JAY-Z’s relationship in 2012. That changed in 2013 however as Hov was listed as a feature on the Nothing Was The Same standout “Pound Cake.” According to Drake, the story goes that Jay sent over two verses he recorded for Magna Carta Holy Grail, something he never does. Drake then sent the song back with his own verses and upon hearing it, Hov wanted to keep the record for MCHG. Jay ultimately changed his mind and Drake ended up keeping the record for himself.
Two days later, in an interview with HOT 97 promoting the album, Drake mentioned his relationship with Jay as being one of the strongest he’s ever had with any rapper. He also proceeded to call Jay “an incredible mentor.”
February 2014: Drake Makes Fun of JAY-Z’s Art References in Lyrics
Months after releasing Nothing Was The Same, Drake took some shots at Hov’s heavy use of art references in his lyrics in a Rolling Stone interview. “It's like Hov can't drop bars these days without at least four art references!” he says. “I would love to collect at some point, but I think the whole rap/art world thing is getting kind of corny.” The comment wasn’t all the way bad but it surely reignited the friendly quarrel between the two.
March 2014: Hov Calls Drake “Mrs. Drizzy” on "We Made It (Remix)"
Just a month after Drake’s Rolling Stone interview, Hov wasted no time clapping back on Jay Electronica’s remix to “We Made It.” It was the first time both parties sent shots to each other directly and Hov wasn’t letting Drake go that easily. Hov served him with a flaming verse rapping, “Sorry Mrs. Drizzy for so much art talk / Silly me rappin’ ‘bout shit that I really bought / While these rappers rap about guns they ain’t shot / And a bunch of other silly shit that they ain’t got.”
April 2014: Drake Responds to JAY-Z on "Draft Day," Hov Claps Back
A week after Hov’s response, Drake answered back cleverly by unleashing "Draft Day." “I’m focused on making records and gettin’ bigger/ Just hits, no misses, that’s for the married folk,” he raps. Later that month, in a playoff game between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors, Drake gives an explanation on Jay’s absence from the game. “This is the people’s team out here tonight, you know what I mean, Toronto Raptors. JAY-Z’s somewhere eating a fondue plate,” he said in an on-court interview.
Hov heard him loud and clear as he fired back viciously on DJ Khaled’s “They Don’t Love You No More.” On his verse, Hov took aim at Drake from the college sports theme on “Draft Day” to him eating lobster over Drizzy’s less expensive oyster plate. But, the best shot comes at the end as Hov questions Drake’s toughness. “N---as talking down on the crown/ Watch them n---as you ‘round got you wound / Haters wanna ball, let me tighten up my drawstring/ Wrong sport, boy, you know you’re as soft as a lacrosse team,” he raps.
January 2016: Drake Says He’s “Turned Into Jay”
After a quiet 2015, Drake got the ball rolling again in the first month of 2016 with his hard-hitting track “Summer Sixteen.” While sending shots to other artists he’s had problems with, Drake mentioned Hov in a line that some felt was disrespectful to the Brooklyn-bred lyricist. “I used to wanna be on Roc-A-Fella then I turned into Jay,” Drake rapped. Up until that point, Drake’s rise to the top mirrored the blueprint Jay gave away years prior, so it’s hard to doubt his claim of owning the throne he said would take on “I’m on One.”
April 2016: JAY-Z Gives Drake One Line on “Pop Style,” Drake Explains Why with Zane Lowe
Drake shook the hip-hop world when he released the Kanye West and JAY-Z-assisted “Pop Style” alongside “One Dance” as singles promoting his fourth studio album Views. Kanye and Jay were listed as The Throne leaving fans to believe the duo were making their highly-anticipated return. The excitement behind the three rappers on a song together was overwhelming, but fans were left confused as to why Jay had only one line on the song. To make it even more odd, the album version didn’t feature The Throne so rumors of a feud began to develop.
In an interview with Zane Lowe, Drake explained the confusion behind the record admitting that Kanye had Hov record a line. Explaining their omission from the album version, Drake said, “Of course people want to hear JAY-Z rap, so hearing him do two lines might be frustrating to a certain audience…That just landed in my lap. I just dealt with it accordingly. It didn’t play out how I wanted it to as far as business or whatever goes. So I figured it would be easier to go with my version.” Later on in the interview, he explains although he’s shown his respect and adulation for Jay in the past, “sometimes we just fall on opposite sides of the spectrum. It’s always mutual respect but sometimes it has to be from afar.”
July 2016: JAY-Z sends another subliminal shot on "I Got the Keys"
On the DJ Khaled’s “I Got the Keys,” Hov raps, “N---as always asking me the key/ Til you own your own you can’t be free/ Til you’re on your own you can’t be me/ How we still slaves in 2016?” a possible response to his owning masters line on “We Made It” and Drake’s line referring to his label making royalty payments on his own version. Hov continues with a few more lines possibly referring to Drake’s line in “Summer Sixteen” rapping, “Real life I’m like Hov, real life I’m life goals/ In real life they’re like me? In real life I’m like, ‘No.’”
October 2016: Drake Raps About Ownership on "Sneakin'"
A day before his 30th birthday, Drake dropped his first collaboration with 21 Savage,”Sneakin’.” The record features a few lines in reference to Jay’s verse on ownership rapping, “You ain’t own it right away, you had to wait on n---as/ Man, I’m only 29, have some patience with us/ Plus I never met nobody from my label, n---a/ I just pop up with the music then they pay a n---a.” It’s important to note that Jay didn’t own his masters until 2015, 20 years after forming his label with Dame Dash and Kareem Burke, Roc-A-Fella Records. So just like Hov, Drake will hopefully one day own what’s rightfully his.
February 2017: JAY-Z Throws Some More Subliminals on DJ Khaled’s "Shining"
Hov, for the second time in a row, shoots down Drake’s “Summer Sixteen” with a fiery verse on DJ Khaled’s “Shining.” Jay had an iconic run from 1996 to 2004 that included six No. 1 albums and countless successful singles. He reasserts his status rapping, “12 solo albums, all Platinum, n---a / I know you ain’t out here talkin’ numbers, right?/ I know you ain’t out here talkin’ summers, right?”
November 2017: JAY-Z Remixes Drake’s "KMT" and "Know Yourself" at 4:44 Tour Stops in Toronto
At the two stops in Toronto for his 4:44 Tour, Jay flipped Drake’s “Know Yourself” and his collaboration with grime MC Giggs “KMT.” On the first night, Hov laid a freestyle over the Giggs-assisted track, even turning up with the crowd afterwards while the second night featured Hov mashing up his verse on “Jigga What” over “Know Yourself.” In the video footage of both moments Hov show’s he’s a master of flow and gives an obvious nod to the 6 God.
June 2018: Drake Enlists JAY-Z for “Talk Up”
One of the biggest takeaways from Drake’s fifth studio album Scorpion was the surprising guest feature from JAY-Z. The two collaborated on the menacing DJ Paul beat with both MCs rapping about their come-ups and statuses in hip-hop. While on the European leg of the On The Run II tour, it was rumored that Hov recorded his verse days before the album’s release. The track is another example of the two rappers displaying their lyrical expertise, with Drake standing tall next to his long-time idol.
August 2018: JAY-Z and Drake Pose for a Picture for the First Time in Five Years
The complicated relationship between Drake and JAY-Z entered a new chapter as the two were spotted embracing each other at the Detroit stop on Jay and Beyonce’s On The Run II Tour. After years of friendly sparring served with a side of mutual respect between the two, the hip-hop community raved at the picture taken by famed photographer and Roc Nation senior vice president Lenny S. It was the last thing people expected, but it was a welcoming sight as the two appear to be on better terms. It seems like the relationship is going through it’s peaceful phase, for now.