On “Summer Sixteen”—a single from Drake’s upcoming Views From The 6 project that was released on last Saturday’s episode of OVO Sound Radio—Drake appears to publicly recognize Tory Lanez, a fellow Torontonian, for the first time.
The track’s second verse contains subliminal ribs that many have hypothesized are directed at Lanez, specifically the line, All you boys in the new Toronto want to be me a little, which includes the title of Lanez’s most recent mixtape, The New Toronto. The verse continues: Oh it’s your time now, yeah, that’s what everybody say, and Say you seeing ‘bout it when you see me, man, y’all never home anyway. Then, Drake seemingly drives attention by incorporating the stuck-record flow Lanez uses on recent single “Blow:” You was never gang, gang, gang, gang ... Six, six, six, six, six soon as I’m back in the city they throw a parade. Another line seems to reference Lanez’ track “Round Here": Getting things done around here / How you let me run it down here / I’m not even from around here. And “War Pain,” the almost-immediate response to “Summer Sixteen” that Meek Mill dropped on Saturday, calls out Lanez by name: Tory from The Six, you hatin' on him, Lord knows. (Early Monday morning, Lanez seemed to acknowledge the song—sending out then deleting a one-character tweet that read "L,” then posting an Instagram, showing himself throwing up an L.)
If there’s real disharmony between Drake and Lanez, though, it’s tough to pinpoint any particular incident it might be rooted in. More than beef, these lyrics seem to reflect a misunderstanding between two talented and competitive artists, who are at different stages of their careers, but both compelled to stake claims for their city. (Representatives for both Tory Lanez and Drake did not return requests for comment).
The two were linked as early as 2010. There’s a YouTube video from early that year, titled “Drake's Lil Brother Tory Lanez Freestyle In The Room.” The clip doesn’t appear to have been posted or sanctioned by Lanez, but it seems to have spawned a rumour that Lanez and Drake were related—scroll deep into the comments and you’ll see arguments about whether Lanez and Drake are actually kin. That same winter, Lanez released a video to clarify that he was not Drake’s little brother, and to issue a $10,000 challenge to get Drake listen to his music: if he didn’t like it, he said, he’d give him the money. It was a weird, daring proposal, and also a sign of self-confidence. Drake did not accept.
Fast forward five years and Tory Lanez has hit his stride, hooking up with manager Sascha Stone and signing a deal with Interscope. He’s released a string of mixtapes, and collaborated with Bun B, Trina, YG, Ty Dolla $ign, and Meek Mill. Perhaps that work with Meek Mill increased, revived, or created tension between OVO and Lanez—but when Drake and Meek exchanged diss tracks last summer, Lanez did not publicly take a side.
A few months later, though, Lanez tweeted that “the 6,” a nickname for Toronto Drake popularized, was “not cool.” The tweet was deleted but OVO artist P. Reign didn’t take the complaint lightly, telling Lanez to “behave himself” in an Instagram post. (Lanez previously used the term on his song “Diego,” and guested on a Honey Cocaine track called "Tha Six.")
A big part of Drake’s living legend is what he’s built in Toronto, and how many acts he’s put on in one way or another. But Lanez has long emphasized the fact that he came up against all odds, without a co-sign. Now that he’s doing quite well for himself, with a record deal with Interscope and the continued success of "Say It," he seems to be at peace with that part of his story. And as Toronto continues to produce new music talent, OVO-affiliated and otherwise, it’d be unreasonable to suggest that Drake should be publicly obligated to push forward the careers of all Toronto natives.
Since he got his start, Lanez has been asked what it feels like to be “the other guy” from Toronto, and his response is now practiced. “I was actually the second artist that got signed [to a U.S. deal] after Drake—before the Weeknd, before PARTYNEXTDOOR, before all these guys,” he told The FADER last fall. “And I think what made it so emblematic for the city was that I was the only guy, next to Drake, who was talented at the level of being able to spit a hot sixteen, sing amazingly, and write songs. I was the only person from the city coming head-to-head.”
That sense of braggadocio is on full tilt on Lanez’ New Toronto—any line could be interpreted as a shot to an unsuspecting bystander. Aiming to show off his skill and prove he’s someone to watch out for, he sounds like someone who wouldn’t mind being acknowledged as a worthy opponent.