“All that peace and that unity,
all that weak shit’ll ruin me, fuck em”— Drake “Diplomatic Immunity”
Now three years removed from a high-profile beef, it seemed as though Drake was all about rebuilding a few relationships around him. More Life came around as the dust settled on something that could’ve wiped away his career if he didn’t move so swiftly. Though the project was filled with more light-hearted tracks than its predecessor, (“Passionfruit,” “Blem”) it also had some introspective offerings to pick apart (“Lose You,” “Do Not Disturb”). “Maybe getting back to my normal life will humble me, I’ll be back 2018 to give you the summary,” he raps as he closes out the latter, and without hesitation, here we are.
Drake shared two new tracks this week, with”God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity.” The songs are being called an EP, with the working title Scary Hours—a term he first tweeted back in 2015 before releasing “Back to Back” just minutes later. While “God’s Plan” will certainly ring off at parties, the song that caught my focus (and everyone else’s) the most was “Diplomatic Immunity.” The menacing production made way for some shots to be fired and didn’t disappoint in doing so. I found it interesting that he’d revert back to being on the defense again, especially since it seemed like making peace was becoming his objective.
Back in May of last year, Drake and Tory Lanez shared a couple of photos together—the gesture was telling us their long-standing feud was a thing of the past, and as two Toronto natives, they’d stand together. That same month at the Billboard Awards, Drake was awarded with Top Billboard Album for Views. He used his acceptance speech to end his little-known beef with Ludacris publicly, and to show his gratitude for Nicki Minaj.
— Billboard Music Awards (@BBMAs) May 22, 2017
Even his beef with Meek seemed to be fading out. While out on his Boy Meets World Tour stop in Australia, he acknowledged his nemesis of the past two years and his legal troubles by shouting “Free Meek Mill”—it was a testament to possibly moving on when Meek is released from prison. He had also patched things up with Diddy. If you’d remember, their relationship was rocky for a number of reasons that they’d much rather we forget. “Fuck is the point in all the beefin’ when we really blood?” he raps on his and Wayne’s “Family Feud” freestyle. It was yet another peace offering, but just a few bars later, a sharp warning awaited:
“…But this isn’t all about callin’ truce
I’m still dishin’ out verbal abuse
That shit could get re-introduced
If somebody got somethin’ they urgin’ to prove, nigga”— Drake “Family Feud”
In a chance encounter almost 9 years ago, Joe Budden forewarned Drake that beef would be on the horizon for him as he’d become more popular. “Somebody gonna say some shit, and the MC in you will respond,” he said in hopes of the entertainment of it all. You gotta love a guy like Joe Budden—one who lives for speaking his mind with conviction and unwavering opinion. It’s a stance that’s gotten him in hot water a handful of times, but makes for some of the better Hip-Hop moments these days. His prediction was on-the-nose, as we’ve seen him in multiple beefs since. Fast forward to now and for Budden, and possibly for other baiters, Drake seems to have decided keeping the peace isn’t the type of fun he nor his audience wants, at least momentarily. ‘Niggas started talkin’ to me like I’m slowin’ down,” he mutters on “Diplomatic Immunity.” Though he goes on to the attack the journalistic integrity of some music reporters and send a few direct shots ironically, at Budden himself, his determination to remind listeners as to why he’s here has resurfaced.
“I’ve been moving calm
don’t start no trouble with me
Tryna keep it peaceful is a struggle for me”— Drake “God’s Plan”
His moments of reflection would previously happen in random hours of the day, in a bevy of different locations (“5am In Toronto,” “9am In Dallas,” “6pm In New York,” 4pm In Calabasas”). They served as open journal entries that held nothing back for the rapper and allowed him to air out his current grievances. “Two Birds, One Stone” switched up the pattern slightly. The song came before the release of More Life and gave him the palette to sound off on everyone from Kid Cudi to Pusha T before heading into his album promo run, as he continued to grapple with fame and naysayers—often the gift and the curse of such stardom.
“Oh, this must be the way the nigga Pac felt when he made Me Against the World, All Eyez on Me
Y’all niggas got me feeling like all eyes on me
Me against the world”— Jay Z “Some People Hate”
It all comes down to defending yourself against the naysayers. We’ve seen a number of greats, before Drake, face the negative connotations of media, and how they prevailed shaped their careers for the better. The Blueprint 2 embodied the superstardom of Jay Z. It was an album geared toward his commercial success and his haters. Drake’s Views is arguably his Blueprint 2—bloated in content with the result of feeling like its you vs. them, but its a healthy transition. When artists get to a certain caliber in their careers, they tend to lose the need to prove themselves in their genre. In order to stay hungry, you’ve gotta bite back. The fight for unanimous praise is something that keeps the obsessive ones intact with their art. Though he may have been trying to build bridges and take the higher road by mending, it seems Drake may have had a change of heart. “I’ll be in better company with my own reflection,” he now admits. It gets lonely at the top as so many have discovered before him. But it sure does seem like fun to immerse yourself in the battlefield and break out of that comfort zone every now and then.