Drake and Kanye have been battling out this week by both releasing new event albums — Certified Lover Boy and Donda, respectively — which feature several of the same guest artists, and which are presumably both vying for the No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart. Drake’s album has a song that fans are convinced takes a shot at Kanye, and apparently Donda almost included a track containing a Drake diss. Pitchfork reports that Drake leaked an unreleased Kanye track called “Life of the Party” on SiriusXM’s Sound 42 last night (9/3), which includes this lyric: “I put Virgil and Drake on the same text, and it wasn’t about the matching Arc’teryx or Kid Cudi dress. Just told these grown men stop it with the funny shit.” He goes on to allude to the pair’s scrapped plans to collaborate: “Thought we was the new Abu Dhabi/Told Drake don’t play with me on GD and he sent that message to everybody/So if I hit you with a ‘WYD,’ you better hit me with, ‘Yessir, I’m writing everything you need.”
The song also features a verse by Andre 3000, who has now issued a statement about the song, saying that he’s disappointed the song was released as part of a feud between “two artists that [he] love[s]” and that he also wanted to be on Drake’s album, and hopes to be on the upcoming Kendrick Lamar album too. The full statement reads:
A few weeks ago Kanye reached out about me being a part of the Donda album. I was inspired by his idea to make a musical tribute to his mom. It felt appropriate to me to support the Donda concept by referencing my own mother, who passed away in 2013. We both share that loss. I thought it was a beautiful choice to make a clean album but, unfortunately, I didn’t know that was the plan before I wrote and recorded my verse. It was clear to me that an edited ‘clean’ format of the verse would not work without having the raw, original also available. So, sadly, I had to be omitted from the original album release.
The track I received and wrote to didn’t have the diss verse on it and we were hoping to make a more focused offering for the Donda album but I guess things happen like they are supposed to. It’s unfortunate that it was released in this way and two artists that I love are going back and forth. I wanted to be on Certified Lover Boy too. I just want to work with people that inspire me. Hopefully I can work with Kendrick on his album. I’d love to work with Lil’ Baby, Tyler and Jay-Z. I respect them all.
You can hear the leaked song here:
25 Early 2000s Rap Albums That Hold Up Today
Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele (2000)
Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030 (2000)
Lil’ Kim – The Notorious K.I.M. (2000)
OutKast – Stankonia (2000)
Ludacris – Back for the First Time (2000)
Eve – Scorpion (2001)
Cannibal Ox – The Cold Vein (2001)
Jay-Z – The Blueprint (2001)
Jay-Z made a name for himself rapping alongside Jaz-O and then Big Daddy Kane in the late '80s and early '90s, but took his time when it came to making his own album. And while he was watching and waiting, the young Queensbridge rapper Nas released his 1994 debut album Illmatic, an instant-classic that received a now-legendary score of five mics from The Source and changed rap forever. Jay took obvious notes from Illmatic (and sampled a line from it) when he finally released his own debut album, 1996's Reasonable Doubt. Gone was the fast-rapping Jay-Z of the Jaz-O days and in his place was an artist with a smoother, grittier style who told real-life stories of life on the streets in Brooklyn over some of the finest production of the era (courtesy of Ski, Clark Kent, Illmatic contributor DJ Premier, and others). Jay-Z intended for Reasonable Doubt to be a classic, and it was, but it wasn't the instantly-game-changing album that Illmatic was and it couldn't compete with the flashy, pop-crossover "Jiggy Era" that Puff Daddy started to lead after Biggie's tragic death. So Jay-Z went in an increasingly pop direction, and by the time of his 1998 single "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," he wasn't just competing with the "Jiggy Era," he was starting to take over.
Going pop in the late '90s and early 2000s also meant getting dissed by other rappers, among them Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Nas, whose feud with Jay-Z was about to boil over as Jay-Z geared up for his best album since Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint. Months before its release, Jay made Hot 97 Summer Jam history by debuting "Takeover," a diss track aimed at Prodigy and Nas, during his set, alongside a childhood photo of Prodigy in dance clothes on the big screen. The finished version of "Takeover" ended up on The Blueprint, and the studio version proved it to be not just a brutal diss track but also a genuinely great song, and one of many on The Blueprint. Jay-Z didn't stop being "pop" on The Blueprint -- it still had the radio-friendly "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," the sentimental balladry of "Song Cry," and other "pop" moments -- but he figured out how to put the accessibility of the "Jiggy Era," the grit of the streets, and the album-oriented structure of Reasonable Doubt into one whole masterpiece of an album. Production came largely from Just Blaze and Kanye West (plus Bink, Timbaland, Eminem, and others), and together they established a rich, soulful production style that would dominate rap for years. There's perhaps never been a better example of the classic Kanye sound than "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)." Jay's ear for beats on The Blueprint was matched by his most consistently great rapping since Reasonable Doubt, and still some of the very best rapping of his career. Unlike his previous guest-filled albums, Jay carried the album almost entirely by himself, and he never lost steam. The only guest appearance came from Eminem on "Renegade," and look, Nas is right, Em out-rapped Jay on the track, but Jay still packed some of his finest rhyme schemes into that song.
Aesop Rock – Labor Days (2001)
Nas – Stillmatic (2001)
El-P – Fantastic Damage (2002)
Eminem – The Eminem Show (2002)
If we're picking one album per artist, a lot of people would go with 2000's near-perfect The Marshall Mathers LP for Eminem, but if pressed, I always go with The Eminem Show because it feels like the grand finale to the classic Eminem era. The Marshall Mathers LP is just as essential, but Eminem as we came to know him doesn't exist without The Eminem Show.
An artist who almost always knew how to title an album, Marshall Mathers introduced the world to his massively offensive alter-ego Slim Shady on 1999's The Slim Shady LP, he introduced us to the man behind the madness on The Marshall Mathers LP, and he took a look at the impact Eminem the artist had on the world with The Eminem Show. (He also admitted the show was over with 2004's Encore, and then made a series of failed comeback attempts with Relapse, Recovery, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, and Revival, before finally abandoning this trend on the still-just-okay-sounding Kamikaze and Music to Be Murdered By.) Eminem catapulted to the forefront of rap because of white privilege but also became a scapegoat for everything white suburban conservatives hated about rap, and there's perhaps no better response to all of it than "White America," the first proper song on The Eminem Show. And then there's "Sing for the Moment." The Marshall Mathers LP gave us "Stan," a Dido-sampling ballad about the real-life dangers of toxic fandom and the importance of mental health, and The Eminem Show gave us "Sing for the Moment," an Aerosmith-sampling ballad about the importance of rap music to young kids amidst backlash from the media, the government, and scared parents. You might argue that song ruined white rap forever (and also unfortunately convinced Eminem he needed more and more ballads on later albums), but it also spoke directly to and validated the feelings of a lot of kids who needed to hear it. The Eminem Show also attacked George W. Bush ("Square Dance"), took on personal issues like the toll fame takes on a person ("Say Goodbye Hollywood") and fatherhood ("Hailie's Song"), and also reminded the world Eminem was still better than most people at making straight-up rap songs ("Business"). One of three songs on The Eminem Show produced by the man who made Eminem a star, Dr. Dre, "Business" found Eminem packing so many career-best punchlines over a top-tier Dre beat, reminding us that -- when you put all the baggage associated with Eminem aside -- he was truly one of the greats at the pure art of rapping.