After a small covid delay and an elaborate fake press tour — complete with a pretend NPR Tiny Desk concert — Drake and 21 Savage on Friday released the joint album “Her Loss,” one of the most Drake titles to ever exist. A 16-track record is fodder for all sorts of online chatter, much of which narrowed in on the specific digs Drake appears to be making at other prominent figures.
Rap is heavy on beef, of course, and Drake in particular has a storied history of calling out people he believes have wronged him, from Pusha T to Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. Ye, who can’t seem to stay out of the news these days, is again a target on “Her Loss.” But the reference attracting the most criticism on Friday was that which Drake makes to Megan Thee Stallion, with those opposed to it arguing it minimizes the trauma she dealt with after an alleged shooting to a throwaway line.
Here is who Drake seems to be calling out on the new album, and how they have responded.
Megan Thee Stallion
On “Circo Loco,” Drake raps, “This b---- lie 'bout getting shots, but she still a stallion.” One reading of the line would suggest a backhanded compliment about a woman’s physique, claiming that she lied about getting injections to look a certain way. But what sparked a widespread response is how the line also seems to reference Megan Thee Stallion’s allegation that she was shot in the foot two years ago by fellow rapper Tory Lanez, who was charged with felony assault and is set to stand trial at the end of the month.
Megan was ridiculed in the aftermath of the shooting, prompting her to tweet in her own defense about the traumatic incident and how “Black women are so unprotected.” As The Washington Post’s Bethonie Butler wrote at the time, Megan’s words were “especially resounding for Black women, many of whom recognize her treatment as a representation of the vitriol they often encounter when they are victims of violence.” Her fans rallied around her then, and once again on Friday after the Drake lyric was read as disrespecting her experience.
“Stop using my shooting for clout,” Megan tweeted, asking: “Since when tf is it cool to joke abt women getting shot ! … Ready to boycott bout shoes and clothes but dog pile on a black woman when she say one of y’all homeboys abused her.” She followed up with another tweet directed at people who criticized her for standing up for herself: “every time it never ends,” she wrote.
In the hook for the song “BackOutsideBoyz,” Drake and Lil Yachty rap-sing, “Tried to bring the drama to me, he ain’t know how we cha-cha slide” — a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it diss for those not familiar with D.R.A.M.
The Virginia rapper’s 2015 debut single “Cha Cha” is sonically similar to Drake’s 2015 hit “Hotline Bling,” which was released a month after D.R.A.M.’s breakthrough song. “I feel like my record got jacked,” D.R.A.M. told Billboard later that year.
Now, seven years after the fact, Drake has something to say about it, too. D.R.A.M. took to Twitter on Friday to squash the drama — sort of. In a video, the rapper said that someone should tell Drake to shut up and move on, while also alluding to an incident five years ago in which he alleged he was beat up by Drake’s bodyguards. They “went to town on the kid,” D.R.A.M. said, but Drake “didn’t touch me.”
Alexis Ohanian, husband of Serena Williams
In the languid track “Middle of the Ocean,” which borrows heavily from the O’Jays soulful “Cry Together,” Drake spends most of his time on his usual targets: his haters. He reminisces about being underestimated when he first arrived in America from Canada. He brags about his lyrical genius, which, according to Drake, is designed for “divine ears.” There are contracts as thick as movie scripts to sign, earrings to wear, etc.
Then seemingly out of nowhere, Drake shifts gears: “Sidebar, Serena, your husband a groupie. He claim we don’t got a problem but no, boo, it is like you comin’ for sushi.”
The Serena here would be Serena Williams, the greatest of all time. Her husband? Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit. The pair have been married since 2017 and share a 5-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian. (Williams and Ohanian reportedly met in May 2015, a few months before TMZ claimed to have photos of Williams and Drake sharing a more-than-friends moment.)
On Friday, Ohanian tweeted a photo of himself and Olympia watching Williams play tennis. He wrote, “The reason I stay winning is because I’m relentless about being the absolute best at whatever I do — including being the best groupie for my wife & daughter.”
On the duet “Circo Loco,” which features an interpolation of Daft Punk’s “One More Time,” Drake not only aims an insult at Megan but also at his longtime nemesis Ye.
In reference to a hip-hop beef that has been heated and reheated for years, Drake raps, “Linking with the opps, b----, I did that s--- for J Prince / B----, I did it for the mob ties.” The lyrics point specifically to the 2021 benefit concert Ye held in Los Angeles for Larry Hoover, an ex-Chicago gang member serving six life sentences. Drake performed several of his hits at the concert, meant to raise awareness for prison reform, and called Ye his “idol” from the stage.
But this latest track suggests the hatchet between the two rappers — who’ve traded disses for years — is far from buried. Drake implies in “Circo Loco” that he did it for J Prince, the founder of the Houston hip-hop label Rap-A-Lot and industry insider who helped convince Drake to participate in the concert. (Prince’s son, J Prince Jr, is the chief executive of the fashion brand Mob Ties, also alluded to in the couplet.)
For his part, Ye, who’s been having quite the 2022, refused to take the bait.
“Enough already I done gave this man his flowers multiple times,” he tweeted. “Let’s really see who are real ops are in this music game. Imagine all the rappers on the same side and everyone cleaning up each others contracts. It’s kingdom time. Love Drake.”