Drake’s music career kicked off during Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak era, which helped pave the way for Drake to make the kind of melodic, emotion-driven music he’s become famous for.
Drake and Kanye’s relationship has grown from a mutual respect that has continuously drawn them to each other, to the point where a joint album between the two felt imminent. But like all tragic love stories, this one has yet to give their fans a happy ending. Here’s a look at their complex history over the years.
2. Feb. 13, 2009: Drake sampled Kanye’s “Say You Will” on his So Far Gone mixtape.
The release of So Far Gone is when most of us fell in love with Drake, and it’s only appropriate that his entry point into our hearts included him singing over a sample of Kanye’s “Say You Will” on “Say What’s Real.” His sound seemed like a clear evolution of what we’d heard from rappers like T-Pain and Ye. The sample from 808s & Heartbreak only cemented that notion.
3. May 2009: Drake said Kanye is the artist who has influenced his music the most.
“Before I ever got the chance to meet him, Kanye West shaped a lot of what I do, as far as music goes,” Drake told MTV News. “We always, always, always took the time to listen to Kanye’s music and appreciate it beyond. We searched the samples and we find out where his inspiration came from, because he has one of the best ears in music, period. He knows how to recognize great music that’s not his. He knows how to utilize great sounds and great music. So before 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.”
4. June 2009: Kanye directed the music video for Drake’s “Best I Ever Had.”
Drake told the story about how it happened to MTV News: “We were in the studio one night — me, Kanye, and Big Sean — we were actually recording a song. And ’Ye … it oozes out of him, creativity … he was just being creative Kanye, like, spewing out ideas, and the day after, I texted my manager — we have the same manager — and was like, ‘Yo, Kanye’s idea was actually the best out of all of them, see if he’ll do the video.’”
(Raise your hand if you too are just learning they once shared a manager.)
5. May 2010: Drake’s second single off his debut album was co-produced by Ernest Dion Wilson (a.k.a No I.D.), Jeff Bhasker, and Kanye.
Here’s yet another connection between Drake and Ye’s 808s album: “Find Your Love” was originally intended for it, and was almost even given to Rihanna before Drake was able to claim the track for Thank Me Later.
6. March 2011: Drake appeared on the remix of Kanye’s “All of the Lights.”
8. 2013: Drake started having dinner with Kanye and the Kardashians.
In this somewhat random video from the Kardashians’ once-upon-a-time favorite app, Keek, Drake and Kanye are seen jamming along as one of Kylie Jenner’s friends sings for them.
9. Presumably, Drake and Kanye also spent 2014 building their friendship, because at the top of 2015, Ye made a shocking revelation…
10. February 2015: In an interview with The Breakfast Club, Kanye revealed that he and Drake talked about doing a joint album.
“We was gonna do an album together, and the album was called Wolves,” Kanye said. The two had apparently been passing beats back and forth and everything. Kanye prefaced his statement by saying he hoped that by sharing this, it would help bring the idea to fruition.
11. December 2015: Kanye mentioned Drake on his song “Facts.”
“If Nike ain’t have Drizzy, man they wouldn’t have nothin’, woo!”
12. Christmas 2015: Drake attended the annual Kardashian-Jenner holiday party.
An initiation ritual into Kris Jenner’s good graces, perhaps? Can’t say for sure, but over the years, it has seemed that you have to have her on your side if you want to work with anyone in that family.
13. February 2016: Kanye’s “30 Hours” featured Drake as a co-writer.
If you think about it, it does sound like the kind of song Drake always ends his albums with. He’s good for a song about riding around while contemplating life.
14. April 5, 2016: Drake shared a version of “Pop Style” with Kanye on it.
Everyone could hardly wait to listen to a song with Drake, Kanye, and Jay Z on it. However, Jay barely said four words and then…
15. April 29, 2016: Views came out and (gasp) “Pop Style” no longer had Kanye or Jay Z’s parts.
Drake addressed the mystery in February 2017 during an interview with DJ Semtex for OVO Radio: “Yeah, I was dealing directly with Ye and that’s the version that he sent me and that was what we talked about and he was like, ‘Man, you know this is like “Pop Style” featuring The Throne. This is huge,’ and I was excited, obviously, anybody would be excited to see them link back up. And then I didn’t know what I was gonna hear. So when I heard Jay had two bars, I was like, ‘Alright, it is what it is. It’s cool, I like that. It’s a little intro and Kanye goes off.’ And then, you know, I’m not really sure the details between how that conversation was miscommunicated or what they were going through at that time, or what anybody felt towards me or whatever it was … but next thing I knew it just became a bit of an issue. And, you know, from there I don’t waste too much time, so I just was like, ‘Alright, cool, I’ll finish it. I can rap as good as anybody else, so I’ll just go finish this song and put forth my own version.’”
16. May 2016: Drake shared that he and Kanye visit each other often.
“We live up the street from each other,” he said. “I’ll pull up at his house and see what he’s doing. We’ll just sit and collaborate, that’s what music is all about.” So, it seems fair to assume there are probably a few tracks sitting in a studio editing bay just waiting to be consumed by the public.
17. August 2016: Kanye joined Drake on stage at OVO Fest.
— Dynamics • £ (@theDYNAMICS)
After the curious case of “Pop Style,” there was some uncertainty about the status of the joint album…that is until Kanye went onstage at Drake’s OVO Fest and said, “Are you ready for this album?” and went on to clarify, “I wasn’t talking about Pablo, I wasn’t talking about Views.”
18. Aug. 22, 2016: Kanye tweeted this adorable photo of his daughter, North, with the word “GLOW.”
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest)
At the time, it seemed like a cute dad tweet referencing the glow-in-the-dark sticks North was playing with, but the fact that this is the title of his new song with Drake makes this look like a hint that we all missed. This is also a sign that they may have recorded the song around this time.
19. Aug. 28, 2016: This billboard surfaced in LA.
L.A. billboard hints that Kanye and Drake’s collaborative project is imminent. https://t.co/pbh0YCwoL5
— The FADER (@thefader)
This whole thing reached peak mystery when this billboard, with both Kanye’s and Drake’s logos on it, appeared in LA. This is also a line Kanye raps in “Glow” that supports the theory that this is when they recorded the song.
20. Aug. 30, 2016: Kanye played the original version of “Pop Style” on his Saint Pablo tour stop in Toronto.
“Y’all ready for this album?” he teased again.
21. September 2016: Kanye mentioned the joint album again in Vogue.
It’s clear Ye was excited about it, because he couldn’t stop talking about it. “We’re just working on music, working on a bunch of music together, just having fun going into the studio,” Kanye said. “We’re working on an album, so there’s some exciting things coming up soon.” He declined to give a release date.
22. October 2016: Drake posted this photo with Kanye and Chance the Rapper.
Close your eyes and imagine a song with Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, and Drake. That’s what most of us did when we saw this.
23. Early November 2016: Drake posted this photo with the caption “There goes the neighborhood.”
The title of their joint album? A song? Or just a photo caption for two black men who live in a very white part of California? Who knows. Kanye’s then-manager, Scooter Braun, also posted the photo, making it seem like even more of a hint.
24. Nov. 20, 2016: Kanye called out Drake and DJ Khaled in a rant.
Kanye began to unravel during his Saint Pablo tour. Spouting out accusations against celebrity friends became a regular occurrence, and it didn’t take long for Drake to fall victim to his erratic behavior. In one rant, Kanye suggested that Drake and DJ Khaled’s song “For Free” was getting too much radio play. Sigh, it was literally all good just a week before.
25. February 2017: Drake said he was confused by Kanye in an interview.
After Kanye spoke negatively about Drake, things seemed bleak for the joint album. Drake discussed the awkwardness of their relationship during an interview with DJ Semtex earlier this year: “I’m not really sure what he’s referring to half the time. 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.”
Drake went onto say, as if speaking to Ye directly: “When I hear that, I just distance myself from it. ‘You know, alright if that’s what it is, 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.’”
26. March 18, 2017: Drake released More Life, which included a track with (gasp) Kanye West.
Drake’s attention shifted to this More Life playlist project after things with Kanye took a turn. So as the playlist premiered on OVO Radio (with no track list initially, so nobody knew what features to expect until we heard them), everyone was jamming along listening, and then “Glow” started to play and the first thing we heard was Kanye’s voice singing, “Watch out for me, I’m ’bout to glowwww.”
Real. Life. Mr. Krabs. Meme.
27. No one can say for sure what Drake including a Kanye track on More Life means (Have they made up? Is the joint album back on?), but if nothing else, it gives us a cruel, delicious taste of what that album could sound like.
Unlike “Pop Style,” “Glow” showcases everything that makes Drake and Kanye special. They push their voices to create sounds that blur genres with lyrics that dig deep and Ye’s signature *chef’s kiss* production — THIS is why their joint album would be an exciting moment for hip-hop. Let’s hope one of hip-hop’s greatest on again, off again bromances results in just that.