Prior to the release, Drake claimed he and West had connected in the studio. There, West allegedly pressured Drake into revealing details about Scorpion, convincing him that he had good intentions and never revealing that he was working on an album of his own.
“He sold me on this whole speech of like, ‘I’m in a great place, I’m making money, and I’m a father, and I wanna be Quincy Jones and help you. But in order to do that, you’ve gotta be transparent with me, you gotta play me your music, and you gotta tell me when you’re dropping. And I know you don’t like to do things like that,'” Drake recalled on The Shop. “I guess we all kind of felt a genuine vibe from it, so I played him my music and I told him when I was dropping.”
It wasn’t just Drake playing music. West also allegedly played Drake beats from “Lift Yourself,” a song he would later release himself. But West allegedly never disclosed that, instead promising the tune to the Degrassi: The Next Generation alumni. “He played me ‘Lift Yourself’ and he was like, ‘Yo, you can have this if you want.’ And I was hype. I started writing to it,” Drake claimed. “And then he was like, ‘Yo, you gotta come to Wyoming.’ ”
Wyoming, as fans may remember, is where West was working on Ye. But Drake only got a clue about that when producer Noah “40” Shebib arrived in Jackson Hole ahead of schedule.
“He was like, ‘Man, I’m here a day early, man. Something’s off,’ ” Drake remembered on The Shop. “He’s like, ‘This guy is working on an album.’ And I was like, ‘For real? He just told me he wanted to work on, like he just told me he wanted to give me beats.’ And he said he wasn’t dropping until like October, November, something like that. And I’m like, ‘It’s all good, let’s just go, and let’s just see what it’s about.’ “
It turned out to be all about West, according to Drake. “I went and ended up pretty much spending the majority of my time working on his music, just trying to like cook up ideas for him,” Drake said. “Just trying to lend a helping hand. … I spent all my time working on his music. We left with ‘Lift Yourself’ and a pat on the back.”
There was also some time for Drake to explore his own music. While in Wyoming, Drake claimed he played West his song “March 14,” which addresses his relationship with 1-year-old son Adonis’ mother. The two even got into a discussion about their personal lives, with Drake showing the father of three a photo of his own son, who at that point was a secret. “I tell him I’m having trouble with my son’s mother. We had a conversation,” Drake said on The Shop.
Days later, news of Drake’s son emerged. Then came the news about West’s album and Pusha T’s album (which West produced) — their release dates coming suspiciously close to the time Drake was set to drop Scorpion. Next, West dropped “Lift Yourself” himself.
That’s when Drake said he realized, “Oh this guy’s trolling me. This was like a manipulative, like, ‘I wanna break you’ thing.” In response, Drake pulled away. “I said, ‘Alright, I’m gonna go back to distancing myself again. I know what this is.’ “
Drake said he sat back and watched when Pusha T dropped his album, featuring the song “Infrared,” in which the rapper called out Drake for allegedly using a ghostwriter. “There’s a diss song toward me that you produced, that’s talking about writing?” Drake said. “I was just there with you as friends helping you, and now you’re dissing me? So I’m like, ‘Man, this is dark.'”
Fans know what happened from there. A war of words ensued, with Drake and Pusha T exchanging social media insults and diss tracks — the most scathing of which was Pusha’s “The Story of Adidon.” Among his attacks were rhymes mocking Drake’s newfound anger, supposed habit of walking away from relationships, his mother (by name), and one set of lyrics that exposed the fact that Drake had fathered a child with former adult-film star Sophie Brussaux (Drake would later verify the longtime rumors on Scorpion).
All of those were fine, Drake said on The Shop, but he said Pusha crossed a line by exposing Shebib’s battle with multiple sclerosis.
“People love to say, like rap purists and people who just love confrontation, they love to say, ‘Aye, there’s no rules in this s—.’ But there are f—ing rules in this s—,” Drake explained. “And I’m gonna tell you something: It’s like, I knew something was gonna come up about my kid. They had to add the deadbeat thing to make it more appealing, which is fine. I understand that. Even that, I was like, okay. The mom and dad thing, whatever. You don’t even know my family. But I’mma tell you, wishing death on my friend that has MS?”
Drake said it was so bad that he decided to walk away from the battle entirely.
“I study rap battles for a living,” Drake said. “Now when you mention defenseless people who are sick in the hospital, that passed away, that really sent me to a place where I just believed then — and I believe now — that there’s just a price that you have to pay for that. It’s over. You’re gonna get… someone’s gonna f—ing punch you in the f—ing face. The s—’s done, the event’s over. I wanted to do other things. I didn’t wanna further your reputation or your career by rapping back at you and having this exchange. And that was it for me.”
Drake did record a response, he said. It was locked and loaded to go, but he never released it. “I got home and I just listened back to it, and I was like, man, this is not something I ever wanna be remembered for,” Drake said on The Shop. “This is not even a place that I necessarily want to go. And to all the people who enjoy that, I tip my hat to you.”
Looking back on it, Drake says he’s glad he walked away. “I feel pure, I feel good. I took that energy and I put it into me, not you. You don’t get that from me.”
Still, Drake did show Pusha T some respect for “The Story of Adidon” — calling it “a hell of a chess move.”
“The song, I thought it was trash. But the chess move was genius,” Drake said. “Back against the wall. I either go all the way filthy or I fall back and I have this sort of chink in my armor for the rest of time to a rap purist. Which is fine, I can live with that. I would much rather live with that than the things that I was about to… the research I did, the things that I was gonna say, and the places that I was gonna go. Not only for him, but the other guy too.”
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Meanwhile, back in September, West appeared to be ready to put his feud with Drake behind him — apologizing in a series of tweets for his part in their ongoing feud.
“I understand where the confusion started,” West wrote. “Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place. … We were building a bond and working on music together. We spoke about doing ‘Lift Yourself’ together I should have given you the opportunity for us to do this together before I released it. Since we were building as friends and brothers, I should have spoken to Pusha about the Quentin Miller bar. There should have been no songs with my involvement that had any negative energy towards you.”
“This is all Jedi level,” West said. “I will be coming to your show within the next seven days to give love and be inspired by the art you have created.”
It didn’t last long, though. Later that month, West jumped on Instagram and went on a rant against Drake (among others).