Drake’s Scorpion may be the most anticipated album of the year — though not for the reasons he would want. The rap megastar had his strong start to 2018 marred by his biggest loss yet with “The Story Of Adidon,” a messy diss from Pusha T that divulged an alleged hidden child and may have ruined a shoe launch he had with Adidas. His “investor” J. Prince said he wouldn’t allow Drake to get into the “pig pen mentality” by responding to Pusha with an allegedly “career-ending diss.” On a recent episode of MTV’s TRL, Prince also said Drake is “happy” about the beef ending. But is he really?
Drake hasn’t said much publicly about the beef, besides calling the hysteria around the diss a “circus” while clarifying his controversial blackface photo. Now, his fans and detractors alike are waiting on Scorpion to see exactly where his head is at. Drake has always been lauded for his calculated nature and his few public endeavors since the beef make it unclear what he may have up his sleeve. The album’s suspenseful trailer showed him sitting alone, not uttering a word as the menacing theme from the movie Annihilation bellowed. He knows the rap world is waiting on what he has to say, and it’s clear he wants to make it count.
His “I’m Upset” video was a Degrassi reunion, a move that worked to dissipate his fans’ shaky feelings and replace them with nostalgia over a childhood favorite show. Perhaps he reset some fans’ minds back to 2008, when he was just the guy from Degrassi who released really good, relatable music. But a lot has changed since ‘08. Drake is arguably the biggest thing in music, as the marketing rollout for Scorpion has shown. The average rapper merely subtweets his enemies, but Drake decided to put his ambiguous musings on billboards in some of the most populated areas in North America.
Messages like “don’t hit me when you hear this” and “fashion week was more your thing than mine” appear to be ominous Kanye references, but they could just as easily be lines from a lovelorn single about Rihanna. That duality between introspective spitting and melody-driven hitmaking is Drake’s calling card. He perfectly showed it on his Scary Hours split, when he appeased two divergent fanbases with the lyrical “Diplomatic Immunity” and melodic “God’s Plan.”
He’s not a one-trick pony, and while Pusha’s diss — and Drake’s resulting silence — may quell any patois-mimicking “I have tough friends” lyrics from Drake, he has myriad ways to pivot in order to get out from under the “Adidon” memes and perception amongst critics that his status as an MC is once again on trial. He’ll need them all, because his back is against the wall more than ever before.