One of pop music’s major events this year is the collaboration between Kanye West and Jay-Z, who are calling themselves the Throne and releasing an album, Watch the Throne, in two weeks. The ad hoc duo, comprising two of hip-hop’s biggest stars, may have an emerging battle with the most popular Jewish rapper in the game, Drake (the son of an African-American father and Canadian Jewish mother, and had a bar mitzvah). This isn’t like Drake’s non-feud with Matisyahu. This is real.
Drake’s main beef is with Kanye. (Jay-Z picks his fights much more carefully; his status as a hegemon has been brilliantly analyzed by the tastefully named international relations blogger Marc Lynch). It can be traced back at least to last year, when Drake was dropped from Kanye’s “All of the Lights,” a song whose gigantic cast of guest vocalists included Rihanna and Elton John. Drake sounded disappointed but understanding: “Kanye’s creative process is ever-changing,” he said. “That’s completely OK.” But this year, Drake was starting something: He accused Kanye and Jay-Z of stealing his and Lil’ Wayne’s idea to join up. “We still gotta do that album,” he told a radio host. “I heard some other guys are coming out with an album together. … I don’t know where they got that idea.” Drake threw down in the opening verse of Lil’ Wayne’s recent single “I’m On One,” rapping, “I’m just feeling like the throne is for the taking, watch me take it!” (“The throne,” “watch,” etc.) And in his own “Dreams Money Can Buy,” Drake rapped: “Oh, I never seen the car you claim to drive,” in presumable reference to the $1.7 million Mercedes-Benz Kanye drove in Cannes. He added: “S**t I seen it, you just ain’t inside.”
Flash forward to late last week, when Jay-Z and Kanye—excuse me, the Throne—dropped their second single, “Otis,” so named because it samples Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.” In what is being interpreted as a response to Drake’s “never seen the car you claim to drive” line, Kanye retorts, “They ain’t seen me cause I pulled up in my other Benz/Last week I was in my other other Benz.” (Nice.)
So, will there be further disses on the rest of the album? Will Hova deign to get involved? And how will Drake respond? As long as this is between Kanye and Drake, Tablet Magazine can safely back Drake. But if Jay-Z gets involved, we are going to have to recuse ourselves. Jay-Z may not be Jewish, but he is … Jay-Z.
Highly Anticipated Kanye West and Jay-Z Album Set for Release [ArtsBeat]
Subliminal Beef: Kanye vs. Drake [This Is 50]
Related: Jay-Z vs. the Game: Lessons for the American Primacy Debate [Foreign Policy]
Earlier: Matisyahu ‘Feuds’ With Drake