In a virtuoso overnight Twitter rant, Kanye West has addressed his ongoing feud with fellow superstar Drake.
Over several hours, and more than 100 tweets, he aired grievances about Drake’s lyrics, his use of the purple heart emoji and, in a sinister twist, alleged threats to West’s family.
The whole saga was prompted when Drake got in touch with West to ask for permission to release a song they’d worked on in 2009.
It takes some unpicking, though, so here’s what we think is going on.
First, a bit of background
Once upon a time, Drake and Kanye seemed destined to be friends.
One of Drake’s first mixtapes, 2007’s Comeback Season, saw him freestyle over Kanye’s album track Barry Bonds.
He later told MTV, “Kanye West shaped a lot of what I do… 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.”
West repaid the favour, praising Drake’s lyrics on his now-sadly-deleted blog KanyeUniverseCity.com, and directing the video for 2009’s Best I Ever Had.
They went on to collaborate on tracks like Forever and Find Your Love; and Kanye said Drake’s dominance of the rap game inspired him to raise the stakes on a joint album with Jay-Z.
“Me and Hov would’ve never made Watch the Throne if this [Drake] wasn’t putting pressure on us like that, so I just wanna pay my respects,
Things went sour earlier this year, when Kanye got dragged into a dispute between Drake and his longtime rival Pusha T.
Ye produced a song called Infrared, on which Pusha accused Drake of using a ghostwriter for his lyrics, triggering a flurry of social media insults and diss tracks.
It reached boiling point on Pusha’s The Story of Adidon; where he callously exposed the fact that Drake had fathered a child with former porn star Sophie Brussaux.
Drake confirmed the rumour on his album Scorpion, but not before he accused Kanye of being the one who told Pusha about his son.
Both Kanye and Pusha have denied the claim.
What triggered Kanye’s latest rant?
It was this text message, sent to Kanye by someone on his team.
According to Genius, it seems Drake is trying to bring his 2009 mixtape So Far Gone to streaming services and needs Kanye’s permission to release one of the songs.
That doesn’t seem so problematic
Well no, but Kanye has some unresolved issues he wants addressed before he’ll clear the song.
350s, by the way, are a range of sneakers Kanye designs for Adidas. They’re pretty smart.
Drake mentioned the shoes while guesting on French Montana’s song No Stylist: “We flying at seven and packed for the beach / Yeah, keeping it G, I told her, ‘don’t wear no 350s around me’“.
Kanye apparently thinks this dented sales – although the line is still going strong – but, wait, he has more to say.
Trav is a reference to rapper Travis Scott, who’s the partner of Kanye’s sister-in-law Kylie Jenner.
Drake recrently appeared on Scott’s US number one Sicko Mode. It’s not clear which part of the song Kanye considers a diss, but it’s likely to be the line: “Lost my respect, you not a threat.”
Kris is a reference to Kris Jenner, Kanye’s mother-in-law.
Kanye sets the record straight on Drake’s son
Glad we’ve got that cleared up.
And then he accuses Drake of disrupting Pusha T’s gigs
Kanye appears to believe that Drake bought dozens of seats at a Pusha T gig in his hometown, Toronto, to keep them empty.
The gig was temporarily stopped when fans rushed the stage. Pusha T later told the crowd people had been “paid” to throw beer and water at him.
“Stop this already bro,” tweeted Kanye. “You getting people hurt out here… And over what?”
The tweets eventually got Drake’s attention
It’s the season of good will!
But it didn’t end there. If anything, it got worse.
Hours later, Kanye logged back on to Twitter; and accused Drake of threatening him and his family.
He went on to accuse Drake of “picking on people with mental health issues”, raising the fact that he is bipolar and stating: “this kind of [stuff] can get me ramped”.
“You trying to be a bully. I never been bullied in my life and I never will be,” he continued. “That’s why I made it this far in a pink polo.”
That last line is a reference to Kanye’s eccentric fashion choices at the start of his career, when he’d wear preppy clothes like polo necks and cable-knit sweaters. It didn’t exactly play well with the hardcore hip-hop crowd but West undoubtedly had the last laugh.
What did Drake make of all of this?
It’s not entirely clear. Drake posted a series of laughing emojis on his Instagram feed, but it’s hard to be sure they were targeted at Kanye.
Not that that stopped the rapper from responding.
“Sending purple emojis when I’m dealing with mental [health],” Kanye fumed. “I need my apologies now – not through Scooter [Kanye’s manager] either not through Travis.”
Eventually, Kanye calmed down
As the stream-of-consciousness started to run dry, Kanye tried to make amends. “Remember that I love you,” he said, adding he never fight Drake or make a diss track.
“You’re mad at me for something I didn’t do,” he continued – presumably a further reference to the revelations about Drake’s son.
He ended by sending out positive messages to everyone.
Does any of this really matter?
Not really, no, although it does raise concerns about Kanye’s mental state; and whether it’s healthy for him to be on Twitter.
Unlike the notorious rivalry between Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, this dispute isn’t characterised by a feeling of menace or foreboding. If anything, it’s a “he-said/she-said” playground spat that’s spiralled out of control.
More cynically, you could argue it’s a great marketing tool. A recent study by The Economist showed that public feuds have a noticeable effect on Google searches and album sales.
Looking into the huge sales and streaming figures for Pusha T and Drake’s recent albums, it concluded: “The public airing of dirty laundry benefited both sides.”
Ariana Grande seems to understand this, and subtly slid into the argument to highlight the fact she’s got a new single out.
Unlike Ariana, neither Drake nor Kanye have new material to promote this week – but we’re smack bang in the middle of music’s busiest sales period of the year; and voting for the 2019 Grammys, in which both stars are nominated, has just opened.
So maybe this wasn’t a bad day to raise their public profile and get coverage in the mainstream press.
Ever get the feeling you’ve been played?