Drake at a game between the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers during the Eastern Conference finals at the Air Canada Centre on May 23, 2016, in Toronto
Photo: Tom Szczerbowski (Getty Images)

Allegedly, Drake has a diss record in the can that would ruin Kanye West’s career. At least according to J. Prince. I find that a little bit hard to believe, considering I don’t know what Drake could say about Kanye that would do more damage than he seems to be doing himself. He’s got white women in Wyoming banning rappers from ranches. That’s pretty serious shit right there. Drake’s issue should be with Pusha T, anyway.

Either way, J. Prince told Drake to stand down, and he is going to do so, which is probably a smart business decision but ultimately means he loses the battle and the thing he covets most: respect from real MCs and hip-hop heads.

Stick a fork in Drake; he’s done.

But also, I just don’t buy it. There are a few facts of this beef worth stating up front.

Fact: Drake can’t go lower or more vicious than Pusha T because he has more eyes on him and stands to lose more than he does to gain by doing so. Truth is, nobody outside of hip-hop circles gives a shit about Pusha T. Drake is out here hawking Sprite, Adidas and T-Mobile and being an ambassador for Toronto and the Raptors and shit. I wouldn’t fuck up that bag for nothing.

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Fact: If he can’t go lower, then he can only win by being more creative, and Drake is a great songwriter, but “creative” is not necessarily an adjective I’d assign to him. At least, he’s not very hip-hop creative.

While both of those facts are true, the most important fact is this:

Despite all of those other facts, it’s 2018; if an actual diss record existed, it would see the light of day. SOMEBODY would leak that shit. And maybe it’ll still happen. But this is the most salacious beef we’ve had in hip-hop in a little while because Drake has turned himself into a formidable opponent and Pusha brought the thunder and the lightning. Because of how much Drake gets clowned for being soft, there’s no way that an actual diss record never makes it online.

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Even Beyoncé’s team isn’t that good. OK, maybe her team is that good.

But let’s consider something here: Drake is a rapper with a team. And in the spirit of Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest’s “God Lives Through” from 1993’s classic album Midnight Marauders (and reworded to fit Drake’s life here):

Now if his clapback don’t look good, Drake won’t look good
If Drake don’t look good, then OVO won’t look good
If OVO don’t look good, then Toronto won’t look good
But since the sounds are universal, Canada won’t look good ...

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Without a proper response, Drake and (by extension) Toronto and ultimately the whole damn country of Canada are looking weak sauce out here. And I can’t imagine the folks in Drake’s camp would be happy with that. Even if J. Prince is requesting that cooler heads prevail, and even if that is a smarter move than doing something that might jeopardize the future bag, pride is a helluva drug.

Pride is that thing that will cause you to consider how bad you’re looking in the rapper streets and find a way to leak the shit because your rep is on the line. Sure, Drake won’t lose money by not responding. His reign on top has not been short like leprechauns, and I expect it to continue on the charts. But without a response record, he pretty much has to abandon more lines like “Last name ever, first name greatest ... ”

Drake cannot ever rap about being this great lyricist or this true hip-hop head who has an affinity for real hip-hop and Dilla and all that shit. He will be relegated to the very profitable (and ultimately more important for the future) realm of pop megastar who can command huge checks. That’s not a loss, per se.

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But I know and you know that Drake gives a shit. Drake’s lack of a response even mutes some of that everlasting Meek Mill “Back to Back” genius. Sure, he won the battle with Meek, but he lost BIG time to Pusha. And that’s what we’ll all remember.

So if there’s a diss record that actually does exist, I don’t think there’s any scenario where somebody in his camp, if not Drake himself, doesn’t leak it. The point of a rap battle is to win and do damage to the other opponent. The point is to make Pusha T (and I guess Kanye, for whatever reason) damaged goods. Pun intended. Not for nothing: “Damaged Goods” would be a great name for a diss record in this battle.

With all that being said, I don’t think the record exists. I do think that several records have been made. I believe Drake has probably churned out at least an EP’s worth of material in hopes that just the right record appeared that would be a respectable response where he at least didn’t lose and lived to fight another day.

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But for now, Drake is the loser. Hip-hop beef is a blood sport. If that record existed, it would already be online somewhere.

Which means it probably doesn’t, and J. Prince is protecting his investment.

Because this is 2018 and the internet is undefeated.