Drake and Kanye West are complicated individuals, their relationship no less so. It’s a mix of admiration and competition, camaraderie and ego clashing. We’re years removed from the cold war between them, which featured plenty of subliminal shots on wax from both sides, as Drake went from actor to mixtape upstart to hip-hop’s highest echelon. From that rocky start, an unexpected friendship grew between the two titans. Whether it’s ‘Ye shouting out Drake on his Nike diss track “Facts” or the two arranging mysterious billboards in Los Angeles, they seem to enjoy sharing a spotlight while also making you think they might hate each other.
In August 2016, it looked like their rumored collaborative album might see the light of day. Last September, Kanye confirmed work on the project was underway. Then Kanye jumped out the window for Donald Trump, and called out DJ Khaled and Drake for manufacturing songs for radio play.
Predictably talk of the joint album evaporated, and Drake shifted his focus to More Life, which arrived last Saturday. But, in keeping with their ever-confusing will they, won’t they relationship, Kanye appears on the project, on the Ye-heavy song “Glow.” This is after Drake, in an interview with DJ Semtex, explained that he was upset about ‘Ye’s radio comments. “I’m not really sure what he’s referring to half the time,” Drake told Semtex, “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 don’t really even understand the point you’re trying to make but whatever it is that you’re going through, I accept it, I don’t respect it at all. You know, because I feel like me and Khaled are just good people. 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.”
Still, Drake included the song on the project, a sort of olive branch to the artist who Drake once described as being “the most influential” for his sound.
There was no need to include “Glow” on More Life. And given the number of subs Drake sends at Meek Mill, Tory Lanez, and Kid Cudi, he could’ve quietly telegraphed distance from Kanye by scrapping the song; he could have added ‘Ye to the list of targets. Instead, here’s the song, an insinuation that he and Kanye are good and that, down the road, perhaps, the album may still happen.
Still, it’s worth noting that Kanye has not tweeted any support for Drake’s new music, something he tends to do for artists he fucks with. For example, ‘Ye’s most recent tweets are in support of the latest albums from Big Sean and Migos. Maybe he’s busy. Maybe he’s surprised Drizzy included the track. Maybe they want to keep listeners on their toes about the nature of their relationship.
Setting aside impossible questions, “Glow” makes the case that the joint album should happen, by inspiring confidence that the project will be good. Rather than just Drake and ‘Ye rapping back and forth over a modified trap beat like “Pop Style,” the More Life collab showcases a richer sort of collaboration that stretches both artists musically. With Drizzy hitting the notes and Kanye digging deep with his raps, a collaborative album could push both into pockets they might not venture into solo.
We haven’t heard much new music from Kanye since The Life of Pablo, and it certainly feels like Drake, a master collaborator, brought a lot out of him. “Glow” touched a nostalgic nerve. With a rumored 15 or so songs in the chamber for the joint album, the reaction to “Glow” could be the push they need to get back on track. Of course, Drake rapped on “Do Not Disturb” that he was done until 2018. Kanye also has his own solo work to prepare. Whether or not “Glow” is the first piece of the eventual album or just a fleeting glimpse of what could have been, the song fits in perfectly with Kanye and Drake’s strange relationship.