Drake & Tory Lanez: a look at one odd, confusing and forced rivalry
The rocky tale of two Toronto natives.
For two artists who try to claim the same hometown, Drake and Tory Lanez share one complicated relationship. Last night (July 21), the notion was once again made clear when Drake opened the first night of his Summer Sixteen Tour (co-headlining with Future) with a subtle shot that many believe to be aimed at Lanez. It also didn’t help that this reference (“All you boys doing fake ‘Controllas’ wanna be me a little?”) was dropped in middle of the same verse that already contained a long-assumed rib at Lanez (“all you boys from the New Toronto”). Oh, it’s your time now?
Although the line could have been intended for Tyga, whose “1 of 1” song eerily mimics “Controlla,” it’s still a good assumption that Tory was also in the crosshairs. After all, he just recently released a cover to the said song, which has been generating rave reviews from fans. So add this with their shaky history, and this now becomes the latest entry in what’s been a long, confusing and forced rivalry between Drake and Tory.
The disharmony between these two date back to 2010, a time that saw both stars respectively on the rise. As Fader pointed out earlier this year, there was a YouTube video that year titled “Drake’s Lil Brother Tory Lanez Freestyle In The Room,” which sparked the association between the rappers. Lanez, whose name doesn’t appear in the account the video was posted under, raps his ass off in the clip. Fast forward to that winter, the T. Dot native would deny rumors of being related to Drake and go as far issuing a $10,000 challenge to have the rap star listen to his music. Daring, the move fell on deaf ears.
Spring forward five years in the “New Toronto” saga, and, as Drake snowballed into the biggest star out of the Toronto, Lanez struck a spark. Backed by a deal with Interscope (via Benny Blanco’s Mad Love Records), he’d release a string of mixtapes (Chixtape, Lost Cause, Cruel Intentions), work alongside YG (“Me & My Bitch”), G-Eazy (“Been On”) and Meek Mill (“Lord Knows”), and drop the Pop Wansel-produced hit “Say It.”
The newfound fame only added fuel to the brewing rivalry. Drake cruised his way to becoming “the greatest my country’s ever seen,” as he raps on “Dreams Money Can Buy,” putting on for the city of Toronto in a way the NBA’s Raptors nor MLB’s Blue Jays franchises have ever done. This success only flares the expectation by the public for the OVO captain to thrust new talent from the city to the spotlight. For Lanez, a big part of his campaign stems from the fact that he managed to carve out his own lane as a star without receiving any major co-sign. Fellow natives like The Weeknd and PartyNextDoor benefitted from the OVO stamp (although it’s debatable when it comes to Weeknd, especially after this interview), but for Lanez, he champions the fact that he didn’t have to follow suit. A few months after “Say It,” Lanez would spark up the rivalry, tweeting that Drake’s popular “6” tagline for the city was “not cool.” The message was quickly deleted, but received a stern response from OVO artist P. Reign, who told him to “behave himself” in an IG post.
Months down the line, Lanez would drop The New Toronto, a mixtape that showcases the star’s versatility along with subtle jabs many took as shots toward Drake. In January, Drake would release the infamous “Summer Sixteen,” which featured the earlier mentioned line in addition to a few other subliminal jabs. “All you boys in the new Toronto want to be me a little,” he raps. “All your ex’s 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 / How am I keeping it real by keeping this shit to myself? / You was never gang, gang, gang, gang, you was never one of us / Had us fooled for a minute now we done all grown up / But I’m better off anyway, y’all never gon’ finish Drake / Say you seeing ’bout it when you see me man y’all never home anyway / Thought of things that you shoulda said, said things that you shouldn’t say / We even gave you the whole money play and ya’ll still broke to this day.”
After the song’s release, Lanez would address the subtle rib in an interview with REVOLT, denying rumors of a feud and going as far as saying “I’m a Drake fan.”
“Drake can dis me 20,000 times and I’ll never dis him, I’m a fan.”
Later he would hop on “Line Up the Flex” with A$AP Ferg and clap back at the “Summer Sixteen” jab with the lines, “Fuck them nias that was hating on me, even though a nia used to tell ’em all… I was never ever gang, gang, gang, gang, I was One Umbrella Mob.”
At this point, what was once a brewing competition became an official rivalry. Talking to Zane Lowe, Drake finally spoke on the tension that’s been building between the two, criticizing Tory for trying to get his attention. “I encourage anybody to go out there and do the most damage that you possibly can. Do your things, get all the fruits, get everything,” he said. “Become the biggest artist you can possibly be. Just don’t get up there finally and start talking down on me. Especially when we have no interaction. Don’t get your first big shot to speak out and you think the right thing to do is to start trying to come for the don. It’s not gonna work and I don’t go for that,” he continued. “The talk doesn’t work is my point. The music speaks, man. It’s such a transparent formula. The music speaks and it will take you as far as you want to go.”
Jump over to last month, in an interview with Hot 97, Tory formally acknowledged the competition and laid out his motive: “I’m here to be number one.” Denouncing the chatter of a feud, the “Say It” singer clarified that he is “marking his territory on the Toronto music scene” and intends on being numero uno. No shame in that. Now that he’s received acknowledgment from the very man sitting on that throne, Tory appears to have finally gotten what he was fighting for.
All eyes will be on how he capitalizes on this moment when his debut album, I Told You, arrives August 19.