"Diss me, you'll never hear a reply for it," Drake smoothly promised on his breakout mixtape, 2009's So Far Gone. But in the ensuing seven years that he's reigned as one of hip-hop's biggest stars, Drake has actually addressed quite a few conflicts on wax. Like his hero Jay Z, Drake favors "subliminal" disses, making oblique references to opponents on songs without actually using their names. Here's a brief history of the times rappers ended up on the receiving end of Drake's passive-aggressive darts.
Lyric: "I'm just feelin' like the throne is for the taking/Watch me take it"
Probable Targets: Jay Z, Kanye West
In his first couple years of stardom, Drake collaborated several times with two of his biggest influences, Jay Z and Kanye West. But when the Roc-a-Fella rappers teamed up for the collaborative album Watch the Throne in the summer of 2011, Drake made a little jab at the project, suggesting that the crowning they claimed was actually up for grabs. Two years later, however, West appeared at OVO Fest and openly acknowledged that Drake's rising star had helped motivate the project. "Me and Hov wouldn't have made Watch the Throne if this nigga wasn't putting the pressure on us," he said. More recently, both rappers appeared together on Drake's current single, "Pop Style."
Lyric: "It's feeling like rap changed, it was a time when it was rugged/Back when a nigga reached, it was for a weapon/Nowadays niggas reach just to sell they records"
Probable Target: Common
Common's 2011 album The Dreamer/The Believer featured some lyrics about "soft" singing rappers that many believed were aimed at Drake. A few weeks later, Drake appeared to respond on Rick Ross' Rich Forever mixtape, suggesting that the diss was just a ploy for attention. Foreshadowing the approach of his Meek Mill diss years later, Drake told XXL, "I made sure it would run in the club, because that's more painful than anything." Common responded directly with a "Stay Schemin'" remix, and even sampled Destiny's Child to challenge Drake to "say my name," forwarding the now widespread criticism that Drake never says his opponent's names on record. A couple years later they resolved the conflict, and Common admitted that the root of it all was that they'd both dated the same woman, tennis superstar Serena Williams.
Lyric: "If you was doing 16s when I was 16 and then your shit flopped/And you switched teams, don't fuckin' talk to me"
Probable Target: Pusha T
In May 2012, a years-old beef between Cash Money and Clipse was revived when Pusha T released the solo track "Exodus 23:1," taking shots at Lil Wayne and Drake. Within hours, Lil Wayne tweeted "Fuk pusha t and anybody that love em," eventually responding in greater detail with the song "Ghoulish." Drake's only public response to date was that week, during a Club Paradise Tour concert at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., when he let off a few bars vaguely addressing the MC.
Lyric: "I show love, never get the same outta niggas/Guess it's funny how money can make change outta niggas for real/Some nobody started feelin' himself/A couple somebodies started killin' themselves"
Probable Target: The Weeknd
After 2010's stream-of-consciousness "9AM in Dallas," Drake recorded a sequel of sorts, "5AM in Toronto" in 2013 that nodded at some of his conflicts with other stars. But the most attention was paid to the "nobody" referenced in the song, believed to be Drake's erstwhile Toronto pal the Weeknd. Abel Tesfaye worked with Drake on several songs on Take Care, but when many expected him to sign to OVO, the Weeknd pursued a different career path, and Drake appeared to take it personally.
Lyric: "Fuck any nigga that's talking that shit just to get a reaction/Fuck going platinum, I looked at my wrist and it's already platinum/I am the kid with the motormouth, I am the one you should worry 'bout"
Probable Target: Kendrick Lamar
Drake was an early ally on Kendrick Lamar's rise to superstardom, featuring him on Take Care, bringing him on the Club Paradise Tour as an opening act and appearing on Lamar's platinum breakthrough good kid, m.A.A.d. city. But their relationship seemed to sour when Lamar called out Drake, and a dozen other rappers, by name on Big Sean's "Control" in the summer of 2013. Drake made a show of being unconcerned about "Control" in interviews, but also appeared to respond that fall on his album Nothing Was the Same. Lamar certainly seemed to feel "The Language" was aimed at him, borrowing a phrase from it on Jay Rock's 2014 single "Pay For It" ("Been dissecting your motormouth 'til I break down the engine").
Lyric: "Just hits, no misses, that's for the married folk"
Probable Targets: Jay Z, Chance the Rapper
Drake's 2014 Rolling Stone interview was a touchy one where he made critical comments about Kanye West's lyrics and Jay Z's newfound love of art collecting, and the MC swore off interviews for over a year afterwards. Kanye publicly shrugged it off, but Jay responded on a "We Made It" freestyle, addressing Drake as either "Mr. Drizzy" or, as many heard the much debated lyric, "Mrs. Drizzy." Drake evidently heard it the latter way, releasing a track called "Draft Day" where he obliquely referenced the line with the line "Just hits, no misses, that's for the married folk. "Draft Day" also featured an odd little jab at a newer rapper with the line, "If I left this shit to chance, I would've picked a name like Chance the Rapper."
Lyric: "I used to try and burn you CDs of my new shit/You be like, 'Who's this?'/I be like, 'Me, girl'/You be like, 'Oh, word, true shit?'/Then ask if we could listen to Ludacris"
Probable Target: Ludacris
Early in Drake's career, he and Big Sean popularized a style of "hashtag" punchline, and Drake openly criticized older rappers for biting the style, specifically citing a Ludacris lyric. Ludacris dissed both Drake and Sean on the 2011 song "Bada Boom," which garnered no on-record response from either rapper at the time. So Drake raised eyebrows when his 2014 radio hit "How About Now" flashed back to his youth, and a girlfriend who'd rather listen to Ludacris than his own music. In 2015, Ludacris gave an interview with The Breakfast Club that shed a little light on the subject, saying that he'd slept with one of Drake's old Toronto girlfriends.
Lyric: "You need to act your age and not your girl's age"
Probable Target: Tyga
Drake's platinum 2015 mixtape, If You're Reading This It's Too Late, continued the tradition of songs like "9AM in Dallas" and "5AM in Toronto" that found him venting and settling scores. This time it was former labelmate Tyga, who'd recently left Young Money in a huff, taking shots at Drake and the label's other bigger stars in the process. Drake dedicated a few bars to Tyga, but the one that really stuck was a punchline about Tyga's relationship with Kylie Jenner, who was only 17 at the time.
Lyric: "I seen it all coming, knew they would push a button/Easter egg hunting, they gotta look for something/Done doing favors for people/'Cause it ain't like I need the money I make off a feature"
Probable Target: Meek Mill
After years of collaborating and touring together, the relationship between Drake and Meek Mill suddenly soured in the summer of 2015. Meek accused Drake of using a ghostwriter on their song together, "R.I.C.O." And a few days later, Drake responded with "Charged Up," a brooding, low energy track that never addressed Mill by name but was clear in what it was about. Meek ridiculed the song on Twitter but didn't release a song of his own. Four days later, the internet went nuts when Drake delivered his second response.
Lyric: "This for y'all that think that I don't write enough/They just mad 'cause I got the Midas touch/You love her, then you gotta give the world to her/Is that a world tour or your girl's tour?"
Probable Target: Meek Mill
If "Charged Up" was a tentative step toward Drake's first full-scale diss track against another rapper, "Back to Back" was a decisive victory, packaging some nasty one-liners about Meek's relationship with Nicki Minaj in the form of a catchy club track. Meek Mill finally responded soon after, but the damage had been done and the song wound up being a sizeable hit.
Lyric: "I would have all of your fans/If I didn't go pop and stayed on some conscious shit/I would have so many more friends/If I lost my success and my confidence/I'm in the club every time they play the competition/If they even play the competition, and I seen the response they get"
Probable Target: Undetermined
Drake turned up on the lead single to the Game's latest album The Documentary 2 and many suspected that Drake's verse was aimed at another Compton rapper, with lines that seem to apply to Kendrick Lamar. Though possibly they may have been about Drake's other famous conscious MC rival, Common.
Lyric: "All you boys in the new Toronto want to be me a little/All your exes know I like my O's with a V in the middle/You would love it if I went away or didn't say nothing else"
Probable Target: Tory Lanez
Drake kicked off the Views From the 6 promotional cycle with an aggressive track about "looking for revenge." Drake made headlines for referencing the Meek Mill beef, comparing himself to Kanye and Jay Z, and even playfully jabbing at President Obama (perhaps coincidentally, or not, after POTUS said he preferred Kendrick Lamar to Drake). But the song seemed most preoccupied with talking down to up-and-coming artists from Toronto, particularly Tory Lanez, who'd tweeted, "This whole calling Toronto the '6' thing … it's not cool bro."