Read: Pusha T, Drake, and the limits of rap beef
He seemed to be saying that Drake was a hypocrite for acting as though things were cool between them even though they weren’t. Hostilities erupted between the two camps—West and his allies, Drake and his—earlier this year, when Pusha T rapped on a West-made beat about Drake using ghostwriters for his lyrics: an old accusation airing the traditionalist take that Drake is more of a slick pop idol than a true emcee. Drake replied with an exasperated sigh of a freestyle pointing out that West, Pusha T’s boss, is hip-hop’s ultimate user of other people’s talents. Pusha then escalated things with a cruel song revealing that Drake had secretly fathered a 1-year-old son—information that had been only rumored, and that Drake had been set to address on his then-forthcoming album, Scorpion. (West insists that despite Drake’s suspicions to the contrary, he did not leak this intelligence to Pusha.)
Amid all of this, West had been tweeting and making music that reckoned with his own bipolar diagnosis, espoused admiration for Donald Trump, and—most consistently—preached woo-woo love and positivity. Extending the latter theme, he eventually took to Twitter to make amends with Drake, saying that he shouldn’t have ever participated in music that dissed him. “I will be coming to your show within the next seven days to give love and be inspired by the art you have created,” West posted in September. But that peace has proved fragile, and West says it’s because the Toronto rapper has been engaged in behind-the-scenes intimidation and in-public passive aggression.
Serious charges were leveled in Thursday’s tweets. West suggested that Drake hired the person who threw items at Pusha T during a Toronto concert and claimed that Drake—in the middle of West’s tweetstorm—called him and directly threatened West’s family. West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, backed him up, tweeting, “@drake Never threaten my husband or our family. He paved the way for there to be a Drake.”
Kardashian is, of course, the universe’s ultimate commodifier of private lives, and her reality-TV family is intrinsic to this feud. Drake has allegedly been texting with her mom, Kris Jenner, and one of West’s grievances earlier this year was that Drake let rumors of an affair between Kardashian and him go on for too long. On the No. 1 hit “Sicko Mode,” by Travis Scott (the father of Kardashian’s niece Stormi), Drake glowers about creeping around a neighborhood looking to settle a score, and West’s new tweets seem to confirm the fan theory that Drake had literally been talking about the geography of the Los Angeles suburb where both he and Drake have homes. (My mind was melted at this particular detail.)
So: As feuds go, this is about as “family”—incestuous and cloistered—as one can be. But West has insisted on making it about more than that. Drake’s tough talk and alleged brutality are “why black people never get ahead,” he tweeted, while bringing up XXXTentacion and Tupac, two murdered rappers. Another transgression by Drake: disrespecting people with a mental illness, such as West’s buddy Kid Cudi (whom Drake indeed made fun of for admitting to depression) and West himself (who Drake … sent inappropriate emojis to?). This is a classic West maneuver, politicizing the personal, and while in the past it has been effective at kick-starting important discussions, in this case West has mired his larger points in so much gossip bait that it’s hard to imagine anything productive resulting.