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Drake & XXXTentacion: Legacies Linked Forever

Updated: May 15, 2023

Being a Drake fan is weird because everyone thinks they’re a Drake fan. Everyone knows Drake music, everyone plays Drake music, but everyone isn’t really a Drake fan because they really don’t listen to this man, as Jay Z once put it, they skim through it.

Though I like to troll his stans with Pusha T lyrics every once in a while, everyone knows Drake is really one of my favourite artists ever. Drake is the biggest artist in the world, and a lot of his music is geared to women, so there’s always been something a little corny about Drake being someones favourite artist, it’s like saying your favourite restaurant is mcdonalds or your favourite place to shop is Walmart or your favourite superhero is Superman and your favourite wrestler is John Cena and your favourite ice cream flavour is vanilla, it’s just so obvious it’s actually lame, but there’s literally no denying this man’s musical greatness.

You can say whatever you want about Drake being a light skinned rich jewish kid, being Jimmy from Degrassi, and a soft rapper all you want, but I remember being a kid listening to the radio & hearing the strings on Over & then Forever came on and I remember thinking this man was literally Tupac reincarnated. The fact that he’s sustained that every year throughout my entire life since I first heard about him in elementary school is insane, the fact that I’m still singing lyrics to Her Loss & Honestly Nevermind today is insane

I literally grew up in Toronto while Drake was making music, that means the actual backdrop to my city, my teen years, the locations he’d talk about, the people he’d reference, I understood it and it felt like he was narrating my life for me. I remember being in 11th Grade when If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late came out, I literally ran through the 6 with my woes, I was literally a real one living past kennedy road, all that shit was real to me. The Weeknd and Drake have been the main voices for my generation around the world but their music always hit more for me personally because of where I’m at, who I’m around, what I’m doing, it spoke to all of it as I was living it and that’s why Drake will always be one of my favourite artists.

But aside from just longevity and my personal connection to the music, Drake is the biggest artist in the world for a reason. Drake, along with OVO40 and their team have mastered everything about rap & hitmaking. Any criteria in rap that you can name, Drake is at the highest levels, he’s mastered the art of actually rapping, he makes hits, he wins battles (mostly) and they use the best beats. After taking inspiration from Ye’s 808’s & Heartbreak, Drake & 40 along with people like The Weeknd pioneered a sound that started with the groundbreaking Take Care, they would take 90s R&B & soul samples, slow it down, reverse it, filter the bass so it sounds underwater, add some patois sound effects, and get drake to say some of the flyest shit ever said on it. Songs like Marvins Room would break all types of barriers in masculine vulnerability, songs like Crew Love & Cameras would change my life personally. They played the song Take Care at my 8th Grade Graduation Dance, shit was lit.

His legendary timestamp series became proof of the mans pen, especially early on. There’s few rappers, let alone pop artists that have rap songs as technically masterful, braggadocious, introspective, & poetic with that much storytelling, and accessibility. That’s really the quality that made me a Drake fan. All the stuff on the radio was cool but when this guy was really rapping you could not tell me this was not the best rapper of all time, he got respect from all of the most respected lyricists in the culture because he was really The One, not that there wasn't anyone else that could rap better or make better music, but there was literally no one else that could do it all, that wasn't concerned with being the biggest person in Fashion, I'm looking at you Ye.

Drake didn’t drop a wack verse for years, he would go on radio freestyles and body people while reading off a Blackberry, and go to Tim Westwoood to freestyle about riding through london street light glows with lamborghini doors chopping. He was called sensitive and he used it to his advantage to be more poetic and incorporate singing.

Drake got in a rap beef with an actual street battle rapper, and he won, this man was quite literally untouchable. Meek Mill said Drake didn’t write and Drake dropped 2 rap songs before Meek could respond, and even though I'm personally a fan of all of Meeks responses especially War Pain, the second song Drake dropped ended up being the grammy nominated Back To Back that still plays at parties to this day, one of the only disses to actually achieve this outside of Tupacs Hit Em Up & Kodaks Super Gremlin.

The idea of “The One” is interesting because everyones supposed to think they’re The One, but they’re really not the one. You can have as much confidence in yourself as you want, your friends can tell you you’re dope, but numbers don’t lie and this man has been consistently playing everywhere everyone’s at for as long as we can remember, and there’s not many other people you can name that are doing it at his level, or have been able to do it & sustain it for as long as him in rap. People bring up Jay Z, Kanye, Lil Wayne & LL Cool J & respect to all those guys, but there’s really nobody else that’s been able to do what Drake is doing for as long as he’s done it. When Drake said they were gearing him up to write the story for an entire generation, that’s exactly what happened, and continues to happen.

In 2016 Drake had his biggest year yet. Drake had dropped WATTBA & IYRTITL in previous years, but those were mixtapes and he hadn’t dropped an album since 2013’s Nothing Was The Same, even though to me IYRTITL is Drakes best project, it wasn’t promoted as an album so there was a lot of anticipation for his 2016 release. I was 17 years old and graduating high school, and really going outside for the first time in my life, and Drake dropped views, an album where he’s literally sitting on the CN Tower. From Controlla, to One Dance, to Hotline Bling, Too Good, Work, whatever variation of whatever song you want to come up with, I heard those songs every single day in Summer 16 while living in the cultures it came out of. It was inescapable and it's entrenched in my memory as some of the most fond I'll have in my life. I was really collecting pennies for Pizza listening to Weston road flows.

It literally seemed like Drake couldn’t go any higher after being at the top for almost a decade. Joe Buddens even dropped his famous rant against Drake's views calling him uninspired on the album, which in hindsight is a take that has aged terribly because that project is high in Drakes discography. But it really did seem like Drake couldn’t go any higher, then he came back in 2017 with More Life. This is one of my favourite Drake projects, he was just rapping all throughout the thing, tracks like Portland, Sacrifices, & Do Not Disturb were insane. That era put me on to a lot of UK artists like Dave. People like Skepta shined on the project. There was one song with UK artist Giggs called KMT that caught a lot of people’s attention. I loved that song for the Giggs verse, Batman dununudunuh is still one of the hardest things I’ve ever heard, but it started appearing in hip hop news outlets that there was a rapper named XXXTentacion who’s flow Drake stole.

I had heard Look At Me & was familiar with some of X and Skis music from soundcloud but I never thought they were big enough to reach Drake & that he’d steal from them. The flows definitely sounded similar, but fans started pulling up videos of Lil Uzi using the same flow a few years earlier so it seemed plausible that Drake came up with the flow himself or heard it in passing from other rappers using it.

At this time though the tides were forming against Drake. When you're the biggest artist in the world, you're gonna get some hate regardles, and if people have ammo they'll use it. Drake was battling a lot of allegations at this exact same time. Even though Drake beat Meek, a faction of the Hip Hop audience’s mystique over Drake went away and the detractors became louder with the ghostwriting allegations. Part of Drakes appeal was his writing, everyone was in awe of his verses, from the street rappers to lyricists like Lupe Fiasco & Joe Buddens, but after getting exposed for having ghostwriters he became Hip Hops Milli Vanilli to a certain audience. Just a pop manufactured hit created to appease a demographic, and even though as a fan I know that’s not true, it didn’t stop those voices from growing. Right after the Meek Mill situation when Drake dropped Hotline Bling, it was a rip off of Drams Cha Cha. Dram went uncredited and many people felt that stole his wave. Various Toronto artists would come out and say Drake stole from them and he’d just diss them and do their dance moves in a video.

Drake did what Steve Jobs would call “stealing like an artist” but when it got time to X, to a certain audience, it seemed like this man was a habitual culture vulture that takes people's sauce without giving them any credit. X said Drake spoke to his team and said he was a fan while he was in jail, Drake said he hadn’t even heard of him until fans started accusing him and this created a rift in the hip hop community that is present to this day.

In 2009 I thought nobody could stop Drake, In 2016 I knew nobody could stop Drake, everything he touched was gold and there was no number 2 person that could do everything he could do. Guys like Kendrick & Jcole were great, they were conscious with hits, but they didn’t put out music as frequently and their content was generally different. Drake was an international hitmaker, rapper-rapper, with everyman content. In 2017 I was certain XXXTentacion would take Drakes spot before 2020. You can only be “The One” for so long, everyone has their era but yours has to end at some point, and I finally saw the guy that could do it. X literally had everything necessary to be the greatest rapper that ever lived. He had accessible lyrics, he was a hitmaker, he had deep concepts, melodies, harmonies, & bars. He had the marketable face. The more I delved into this guys work the more I was certain this was the guy. Artists like Lil Uzi were also hitmakers that I was certain would go on to be as big as they became, but X had a level of depth to him that surpassed his peers, that has made him the most streamed artist in the world after his untimely and tragic death by a couple of no name thieves at a bike shop.

X is now bigger than Drake in terms of pure metrics with X being the most streamed artist of all time. On an old song titled Light Up with Drake Jay Z says the lines “Drake, here’s how they gon come at you, with silly rap feuds trying to distract you” Jay was giving Drake advice on how to ascend to the top of the game. Drake responded with his 2017 More Life song Free Smoke “I didn't listen to Hov on that old song when he told me pay it no mind, I get more satisfaction outta goin' at your head and seein' all of you die, and I seen a lot of you die”

There’s been theories about Drake having X killed on the internet since the day X died, considering X put up a story on his instagram that if anything happened to him it was Drake literally days prior. After a short lived internet beef where X dissed Drakes mom, posted a picture of a Drizzy lookalike giving head with semen on his face, and a bunch of other wildly disrespectful things for supposedly stealing his flow, X put up that instagram story accusing Drake and then passed away.

11 days after the death of X, Drake dropped his biggest album ever. This album would take Drake to even higher levels than the previous views. Songs like Gods Plan, In My Feelings and Nice For What broke all kinds of records, songs like Emotionless hit peaks in my opinion for everything that I like about Drakes music from 40 & Drake. This album came out in 2018, Trump was president, I was 19, working at a call centre & partying everyday, life could not have been more fun as we were all shiggy dancing to keke do you love me & nice for what, the saddest thing in my life was the death of XXXTentacion that summer.

Scorpion was a double disc and it detailed everything Drake was going through that summer. From his storied beef with Pusha T, to shots at his former mentor Kanye to multiple subliminals at the late XXXTentacion, and an entire side B that is supposedly about Jorja smith according to Joe Buddens.

There were so many subliminals it made the theories even stronger that Drake put a hit out on X. Songs like Mob Ties & I'm upset sent the internet ablaze with theories. The fact that he then made Sicko Mode, which is a song detailing how he wants to kill Kanye, and then had a scene where someone who eerily resembles X got stomped out by a Drake comet, didn't help bring down the rumours. And even if that wasn’t X, in the words of Ye Drake was “running around here like he Pac.”

Drake was untouchable, and even though Pusha T dropped the Story of Adidon, it still didn’t stop Drake from being the biggest artist in the world, but even in his newest album Her Loss he’s still dissing X to the point where the rumours of him planning a hit on X have only gotten louder, and now the legal system actually wants Drake at court because the lawyer of one of the people who actually killed X is saying Drake paid these guys off.

On songs like On Bs where he says stuff like "if he held his tongue on that live he'd be alive again" and spells X in Roman Numerals, this mans one of the best rappers ever so obviously that was intentional, but maybe that's just what Drake does when someone disrespects his mom before he dies and becomes the biggest artist on Earth.

Personally, I don’t know what Drake does in his personal time. I do know he's petty & competitive. When I was 20 I had a lot more opinions about it, but these days I just enjoy Drakes music, it is interesting though how his legacy will forever be tied with this kid who was really only out for a year in the public eye, and a total of 5 years in the underground. X has 2 studio albums, a few mixtapes, and a bunch of posthumous releases, but everyday he gets bigger than the day before, it’s actually astounding, and now he’s the highest streamed artist of all time. Drake has the legendary Pound Cake sample saying “only real musics gonna last, all that other bullshit is here today & gone tomorrow” & it looks like X is here to stay, and these rumours aren't going anywhere.

XXXTentacion was a true artist. Jahseh Onfroy was a musical prodigy of Jamaican descent, who like many musical prodigies, led a troubled life that led him to prison multiple times in his life. After stabbing someone while saving his mom from being attacked as a 6 year old, X was always known for his anger issues. He would fight in the streets, get kicked out of multiple schools, go to juvenile detention multiple times, use footage of him beating up people as his album covers, he was a menace to society but he really believed himself to have a righteous point of view in every conflict he engaged. It always seemed like he was intact with some moral compass he had in himself about how he should conduct himself in the world, regardless of what the world thought about him and his actions because he believed the world to be incorrect in its current form.

Jahseh would play on FL Studios in his bedroom as a teenager when he was getting kicked out of schools and he would figure out new distortion techniques and study the effect of different musical hertz on the brain. X would create his music with a distinct distortion, which originally started from not owning a mic, and then growing into a technique with producers like OhMyGodRonny! Creating iconic distorted beats for X, Ski & The Members Only crew that would go on to be adopted by Lil Pump, Smoke Purp and others.

Outside of his music X would have these long instagram live conversations with his fans about the world, society, spirituality, ancient civilizations, mental health, love, religion, it seemed like X was ahead of his peers mentally, he was forming a deeper connection with his audience and it seemed like his fans believed he was a demigod or an alien. Many called him a starseed. I don’t think he thought he was human either, as he said in his song “I’m Not Human”

To say X had a cult following is an understatement, he practically had his own religion in 2017. Comment sections of anything Drake related were swarmed with allegations of him stealing X’s flow, X would go on to address it. I don’t think Drake would have ever thought that this would be the guy that would go on to outstream him. I don’t think Drake thought this guy would be the biggest problem of his career, for so many reasons outside of legal ones as he’s currently being summoned to court. I think Drake still disses X because Drake knows that their legacies are tied together forever, and I think that’s really interesting. Everyone thought Meek or Pusha were his Biggie but it was really X the whole time.

Kanye beefed with Drake but Drake outsold him, same with Push, same with Meek, same with anyone else you can name. You can talk about music but you can’t talk about numbers. When we thought of Jay Z’s light up verse everyone always thought of Meek, nobody ever thought it would be this light skin Jamaican felon from Florida, but who else could it be?

Drake, despite being one of the greatest rappers of all time, does not have the typical rapper upbringing. Drake is a half jewish kid from the suburbs of Toronto that had to defeat all kinds of odds to get some acceptance in Hip Hop, but he didn't really have to struggle like everyone else and everyone knows it. The entire meme about started from the bottom is that nobody believes Drake started from the bottom. In a genre like Hip Hop, that was started by a Jamaican in the streets of New York by the name of Dj Kool Herc, that lived in the projects, and needed to make a couple of dollars, who else but XXXTentacion could have dethroned Drake? The universe built him like the final boss to beat Drake. He’s this handsome, lightskin generationally talented kid from a culture Drakes been appropriating the last few years, that had virtually mastered each genre he attempted.

X was killed by a couple of dirty bums, I personally don’t know if Drake had anything to do with it, I really hope not cause even the idea of it kind of hurts my feelings. Imagine your favourite artist killing your favourite artist, that’s like your grandma killing your other grandma, it’s a difficult reality to deal with, there’s also no proof substantiating it other than Drake's own lyrics, which could be referring to various things, but I think Drake wants to play up an image for street cred, which in the rap game you kind of have to do. That’s what the whole drill genre is about, everyone wants to look tough and like Drizzy said “that’s the only kind of thing that gets you some respect” & maybe he’s right, maybe X would be dissing him too if the roles were reversed, I don't think so but X did say crazy stuff about Drake all the time, about his mom, a woman Drake loves so much he decided to get her name tatted under his eye. And maybe you don’t have to make peace with someone just because they died, who knows. But the reality is, these are 2 of the biggest names in music in the 21st century, and their names will be linked to each other forever, and it will be interesting if X’s music will continue to be bigger than Drake, and how that will impact Drakes legacy. Because in terms of pure catalogue Drake has way more songs because he was out longer, but X has way more streams, and that’s insane.

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