Drake’s ‘Certified Lover Boy’ Arrives, as Chart Battle With Kanye West Continues

For greater than a decade, Drake and Kanye West have been locked in a dialogue on the prime of the hip-hop heap — occasional collaborators turned pleasant rivals turned bitter rivals, and typically all three directly.

Yet hardly ever have the 2 generation-defining stars so intently intertwined their musical fates as this week, after they launched extremely anticipated, long-delayed albums inside 5 days of one another, with very totally different rollout methods.

“Certified Lover Boy,” Drake’s sixth studio album, got here out simply earlier than 1 a.m. Eastern time on Friday, the end result of almost a 12 months of teases, promotional singles and false begins. The album — which had been scheduled for launch in January however was talked about obliquely as early as 2019 — options 21 tracks and an enormous complement of visitor stars, together with Jay-Z, Travis Scott, Lil Baby, Future, Young Thug, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne.

West’s 10th album, “Donda,” arrived on Sunday with significantly extra friction, which can have solely fed its hype. Originally slated for July 2020 — after which July 23 of this 12 months, then Aug. 6 — the 27-track LP got here within the wake of three stadium-size listening occasions, throughout which West performed the work-in-progress; constructed a duplicate of his childhood residence; staged a mock marriage ceremony ceremony along with his estranged spouse, Kim Kardashian West; welcomed polarizing visitors like DaBaby and Marilyn Manson; and declined to talk a phrase.

“Donda” has its personal deep bench of celebrity visitors, together with the Weeknd, Lil Baby, Pop Smoke and Roddy Ricch. A handful, like Scott, Jay-Z and Young Thug, seem on each LPs. (Few ladies seem on both launch.) Their stuffed monitor lists have grow to be a regular business technique to maximise streams, and could also be a key weapon within the chart contest between “Donda” and “Certified Lover Boy.”

While pushing cultural buttons was a major a part of West’s launch technique, Drake invited some scrutiny too, by sampling R. Kelly in his new monitor “TSU.” Kelly’s “Half on a Baby” (1998) — in its full model, not the extra simply accessible radio edit — has a symphonic-sounding synthesizer preamble. Drake used that for “TSU,” additionally for an introductory section.

Kelly, who has lengthy confronted accusations of sexual abuse, is at present on trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn for racketeering and violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting anybody throughout state traces for prostitution, and many individuals on social media took offense. (John Lennon and Paul McCartney even have a credit score, for the Beatles’ “Michelle,” which is used within the album’s opening monitor, “Champagne Poetry.”)

West, who has taken to overlaying his face in public, opted for a plain black cowl for “Donda,” whereas Drake went splashier. “Certified Lover Boy” makes use of readily meme-able album artwork from the British up to date artist Damien Hirst that depicts emojis of 12 pregnant ladies of varied pores and skin tones.

But even as West struck first, “Donda,” named for the rapper’s late mom, was nonetheless being up to date the morning of its launch, with further variations of a number of songs added to the monitor listing. West claimed on Instagram that his file firm had “put my album out without my approval” and that it had initially blocked a monitor that includes Manson and DaBaby. (“Jail Pt. 2,” with appearances by each, is now included on the album. Def Jam, his label, declined to remark.) Additional collaborators slated to be on the album, together with Chris Brown and Soulja Boy, expressed their very own discontent with the completed product.

Yet even amid the scheduling bumps, combined evaluations and nontraditional weekend launch — which left West two fewer days of gross sales and streams than a regular Friday drop — “Donda” is on tempo to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard chart with one of many greatest opening weeks of the 12 months. According to Def Jam, “Donda” had 180 million streams in its first 24 hours.

The cowl of Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy.”

Based on Drake’s streaming dominance — he was the primary artist to hit 50 billion streams on Spotify, by at the least one depend — “Certified Lover Boy” is all however sure to reign as one of many 12 months’s greatest releases. And though Drake’s first-week gross sales won’t be finalized till Sept. 13, precluding a direct repeat of the West vs. 50 Cent chart face-off of 2007, followers have been keen to match the 2 new works, commercially and artistically, in step with the pair’s newest stoking of their very own long-simmering rivalry. (The rappers’ file labels share a mother or father firm in Universal Music Group.)

After Drake appeared to poke enjoyable at West’s age on a visitor verse for a Trippie Redd monitor final month — Drake is 34 and West a decade older — West posted a textual content alternate on-line by which he wrote, “You will never recover. I promise you,” and included a picture of Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker. (West additionally uploaded a screenshot of what seemed to be Drake’s Toronto handle earlier than deleting it. Drake appeared to reply with a number of photographs of himself laughing.)

Listeners on Friday had been fast to note Drake’s obvious ripostes to West. “Give that address to your driver, make it your destination/’Stead of just a post out of desperation,” he raps on the monitor “7am on Bridle Path.”

The digs, in tune and on social media, continued a sample of petty slights, direct and oblique, between the 2 that dates again years, with the connection having seemingly curdled irrevocably round Drake’s musical beef with Pusha-T, a West affiliate, in 2018.

In the years since, the artists’ paths diverged, even as they often butted heads on-line and on file. West embraced former President Donald J. Trump, launched into an ill-fated run for president and turned towards gospel, releasing a Christian-themed album, “Jesus Is King,” in October 2019. He vowed to cease cursing in his music, a promise he upheld on “Donda,” even censoring his visitors.

Drake, in the meantime, launched a gradual stream of music even as he made himself extra scarce. In the spring of 2020, the rapper adopted the only “Toosie Slide,” which reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, with a shock mixtape, “Dark Lane Demo Tapes,” that includes songs that had leaked on-line. He promised a studio album that summer time, and the would-be lead single, “Laugh Now Cry Later,” topped the singles chart in August. But the album by no means got here; one other holdover, the three-song EP “Scary Hours 2,” adopted in March and resulted in one other No. 1 single (“What’s Next”).

After months of solely cryptic updates on the album’s standing, a collision course with West started to appear inevitable as the summer time wound down and the 2 A-list rappers resurfaced. As West toured a still-in-progress “Donda,” Drake appeared to stake a declare to a Sept. three launch date late final month with a lo-fi, guerrilla-looking advert that lower in throughout an ESPN “SportsCenter” broadcast.

And on a Trippie Redd monitor titled “Betrayal,” the rapper indicated that the hubbub surrounding West’s “Donda” wouldn’t have an effect on his remaining launch date. This time, Drake rapped, “it’s set in stone.”