This article was updated on December 8, 2021
"And that's around the time/That your idols become your rivals/You make friends with Mike/But got to A.I. him for your survival," Drake raps on "Thank Me Now," a fitting summary of his relationship with Kanye West.
Working together, the two could potentially be unstoppable, but, for years, their egos seemed to be too big to share the same rap throne.
Over the past decade or so, Drake has gone from idolizing Kanye, to collaborating with him, to beefing with him in a constant loop that showed no signs of stopping until recently.
The duo traded barbs through unreleased tracks and social media tussles until late in 2021 when they suddenly appeared to kiss and make up.
Ahead of their collaborative concert to benefit Larry Hoover on December 9, let's take a brief look back at the history between Kanye and Drake and see what inspired the rollercoaster relationship of contemporary rap's two MVPs.
Chapter One: Cosigns and Freestyles
It's no secret that Drake's earlier music was inspired by Graduation, 808's & Heartbreak and Kanye's penchant for incorporating earnest emotion into his music.
From 2007-2009, Drake hopped on various Ye tracks including "Barry Bonds," "Swagga Like Us," and a re-imagined "Say You Will" on his classic mixtape So Far Gone.
The pair reportedly met for the first time in 2009 in Hawaii around the same time Kanye was working on 808's & Heartbreak.
Kanye would later praise Drake for one of his punchlines on "Every Girl" in a now-deleted KanyeUniverseCity.com blog post stating, "Drake said, 'Do you like girls like I do?? Les-bi-honest!!!!!' Best line of the year so far!"
As Drake told MTV, "Kanye West shaped a lot of what I do, as far as music goes... [B]efore I met him, I had the utmost respect for Kanye West. 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."
Chapter Two: Collaborating on Thank Me Later
In the summer of 2009, the pair would finally work together. Kanye served as the director for the controversial music video for Drake's smash hit "Best I Ever Hard."
It would start a chain of collaborations including Drake's star-studded "Forever" anthem and Jamie Foxx's "Digital Girl."
In 2010, Kanye produced two songs for Drake's debut album Thank Me Later. "Find Your Love" served as the lead single for the album while "Show Me a Good Time" was another strong cut on the full-length. Kanye would later enlist Drake for vocals on his star-studded single "All of the Lights" off of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Chapter Three: The Disses Begin
Their relationship finally took a turn in 2011 when Watch the Throne was announced. Before Kanye West and JAY-Z's historic collaboration, Drake and Lil Wayne were already working on a joint project.
Drizzy told DJ Tim Westwood that he was working on a joint album with his mentor Lil Wayne before WTT became a thing.
He felt a certain way about it, and made sure to throw a light jab at Kanye and JAY-Z in the process.
"We still got to do that album," Drake said about his Lil Wayne project. "I heard some other guys are coming out with an album, too. There's two other rappers that are coming out with an album together... I don't know where they got that idea."
Chapter Four: OVO Fest Reconciliation
In 2013, Drake surprised fans at his annual OVO Fest in Toronto after bringing Kanye out to perform, who later admitted that he was paying attention to Drake’s moves.
"Me and Hov would've never made Watch the Throne if this n*gga wasn't putting pressure on us like that, so I just wanna pay my respects," he told the audience. Drake would go on to suggest that night was "the most important moment in my career."
Later that year, during an interview with Billboard, Drake spoke openly on his strained relationship with Kanye.
"Me and Ye just fell into this thing where we hadn’t actually talked to each other in so long that all this stuff got built up," Drake said. "Sometimes you just have to find the opportunity to tell someone that you really like and respect them. After that, everything can move forward. Hopefully we give the world what they want, because I know they want it. I know me and Ye could do some crazy shit together."
Chapter Five: Joint Album Rumors
In 2015, Kanye confirmed on The Breakfast Club that he and Drake were “gonna do an album together... It might happen... But he's probably going to be mad that I mentioned it on your show."
He further states, "The "Wolves" song came from a conversation that me and Drake had where we was gonna do an album together, and the album was called Wolves. I asked him and we talked about it and he said yeah, we was gonna do it, he was sending beats back and forth. It might happen 'cause I threw that out there."
Chapter Six: Mystery Billboards
In August 2016, rumors of their joint album resurfaced after mysterious billboards that feature both logos from OVO and G.O.O.D. Music.
The very next night, Kanye added more fuel to fire asking fans "Y'all ready for this album?" during a concert. He also played Drake's single "Pop Style."
Chapter Seven: Kanye's Infamous Saint Pablo Tour Rant
Jumping forward into 2017, there's still no joint album and their relationship seems to hit the "beef" stage once again. While on his Saint Pablo Tour, Kanye targets DJ Khaled's hit single "For Free" featuring Drake suggesting that he was engaged in payola.
"Is it just me or did you hear that song so many times—you say you wanna play 'For Free,'" Kanye ranted. "I love Drake. I love Khaled. But they set that song up, bro. ... Khaled, I know you got hitters from Miami. Please do not send them at my head. I just want to have a conversation about how we playing radio’s game.”
Drake would later respond in an interview with DJ Semtex.
"I’m not really sure what he’s referring to half the time," Drizzy said. "Because in the same breath, I went from being... like working on a project with him, to him sorta publicly shitting on me and DJ Khaled for being on the radio too much... I’m not sure why we’re the target of your choice that you made that night. And yeah, I accept what you’re going through, and I just go and continue working on my own thing."
Chapter Eight: "Glow" Reunion
By the spring of 2017, the two would squash their differences yet again and collaborate on the track "Glow" off of Drake's More Life.
Chapter Nine: Kanye Gets Dragged Into Drake vs Pusha-T Beef
Summer 2018 was a huge moment for hip-hop with releases from top acts like A$AP Rocky, Eminem, Nas, and Kid Cudi; the season also had its fair share of drama. And, of course, Drake and Ye were at the helm of it.
Both rappers, now verifiable cultural touchstones, have always dealt with controversy when in album mode — remember Kanye was Extremely Online that summer, perpetually posting on Twitter.
Pusha-T’s DAYTONA also launched that summer, which included a diss track aimed specifically at Drake.
"I could never have a Virgil in my circle/And hold him back 'cause he makes me nervous," rapped Drake. "I wanna see my brothers flourish to there higher purpose/You n*ggas leeches and serpents/I think it's good that now the teachers are learnin'."
Chapter Ten: Kanye Denies Involvement
After Pusha polished off his Drake beef with "The Story of Adidon," breaking the news of Drake's son to the world, Kanye denied being involved.
In an interview with Chicago radio station WGCI, Kanye denied that he told Pusha about Drake's kid.
"I'm 'Ye," he said. "I got major things to do other than be telling him some information about Drake."
However, Malik Yusef revealed that Kanye heard Drizzy's "March 14" track, wherein the Six God first publicly acknowledged his son, a month befre Pusha dropped his diss.
"I was not there, but I do know that story," Yusef said. "You gotta be careful how you move, what you say to people, what gets out, and the whole nine [yards]."
Also in that aforementioned interview with WGCI, Kanye opened up about his current relationship with Drake.
"People be around your family and be in your house and this and that then, they get mad about a beat and send purple demon emojis," Yeezy said. "I don't play like that, I don't play in that place... It's like, look, it ain't no beef."
Drake responded later that day on Instagram with his infamous "THE BOY" photo.
Chapter Eleven: Drake Disses Kanye in Unreleased Track
On September 4 2018, a snippet of an unreleased Drake and French Montana track called "No Stylist" leaked, which included a Drizzy verse taking shots at Ye's YEEZY line.
“Keeping it G, I told her don’t wear no 350s ’round me,” Drake raps on the track.
Chapter Twelve: Kanye's Apology
The very next day, Ye apologized to Drake in a series of tweets. He addressed "stepping on" Scorpion's release date, the claims about Drake's son, and love for Drake.
Chapter Thirteen: Kanye's call out
Several weeks after Kanye's apology, he suddenly, if respectfully, went off on Drizzy again.
This time around, it was in reference to Drake's viral hit "In My Feelings," and its reference to "Kiki," who some speculated might be Kanye's wife Kim Kardashian.
“The fact that people are making rumors and thinking that you fucked my wife and you’re not saying anything and you’re carrying it well like that,” Kanye said. “Don’t sit well with my spirit. You know, if I had a girlfriend from Chicago and her name was Ranita and you were married to Rihanna, I wouldn’t make no song called RiRi. So when you’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t know where it comes from.’ You’re too smart for that, bro. You know where it came from.”
Chapter Fourteen: President Kanye vs. the Lover Boy
We pick up our saga a few years later, after COVID-19 shut down the world and Kanye lost the presidential race, after one of Kanye's unreleased Drake disses leaked and a Kanye/Drake Verzuz battle failed to materialize, things took a turn for the worst.
Both Kanye and Drake were planning to release new albums in 2021, see: Drake was supposed to drop Certified Lover Boy back in January and Kanye, free from Twitter, was devoting all his energy to DONDA, yielding high-profile concerts, weird gizmos, and even deluxe versions.
"Life of the Party," an early DONDA leak, included another Drake diss.
Chapter Fifteen: Back Together in the Name of Larry Hoover
Given all this beef, it came as no less than a shock to fans when Drake and Kanye suddenly announced a joint concert in benefit of Larry Hoover following a joint appearance at a Dave Chappelle stand-up set.
Given the ferocity of their clashing over the year, it's not entirely obvious what squashed the beef. Perhaps it's just their shared belief in a good cause.
Tickets for the December 9 concert obviously sold out immediately but there'll presumably be an eventual livestream starting around 5 p.m. PST, when doors open at the LA Coliseum.