Drake and Chris Brown’s new single “No Guidance” has hit #1 on Apple Music, with Chris celebrating the win on Instagram and Drake chiming in in the comments:

“Jeeeeeeez....wait till the video drops - also are we the first mortal enemy duo to go number one on Apple Music?? #guinessbookofrecords”

We all know the origin of their conflict is that they share an ex: pop star, makeup mogul, and fashion icon Rihanna. Of course, both men had very different public relationships with her – Drake’s seeming like an on and off fling and Chris’s assault on Rihanna in February 2009 oftentimes defining his career. In the past few years, Drake dating Rihanna then mocking Chris for it characterized the period of their public spats. Now, both men have again wiped their messy slate clean with the release of their single. It’s not out of nowhere either as not only did Chris tell us that Drake would appear on the album, but they reunited onstage in Los Angeles during Drake’s tour with the Migos.  

In brief, the public perception (from those who prioritize the survivor of abuse over two men, one being the abuser) is that they are either bonding despite the Rihanna situation or to spite her. Since their beef centered on who possessed her at any given time, this is not an offbase assumption. Since Rihanna is perpetually unbothered by both of them (and really doesn’t care about Drake or his Scorpio like antics), I’ll move on to discuss the real core of the discussion: who is allowed to work with past abusers, and is it ever ok? 

If social media is any indication, Chris Brown’s fans have basically abandoned praising his music and only exist online to yell at people about how much time has passed. Of course, this is irrelevant – domestic violence statistics tell us how rare the public unfolding of the Rihanna Chris Brown situation is; most survivors don’t report at all, and when they do, receive little to no legal recourse. 

Then there’s Drake. His soft crimes against women exist behind a carefully curated public image tied to his art. We know he loves women, we even see that he loves Black women, but it’s to what end that is questionable. Songs like “Nice for What”, “Practice”, “Ratchet Happy Birthday”, and “Proud of You” show that he wants us to be independent. Songs like “No Lie”, “Hotline Bling”, and “Too Good” express a bitterness and entitlement towards women as disposable. But we all live in contradictions, and Drake still makes great music. 

While I understand and agree with critiquing Drake’s choice to continue to work with Chris, I think we are holding him to a standard that simply isn’t there. This is the same Drake that allegedly dated an 18 year old, had creepy exchanges with a 14 year old, threatened Jhonni Blaze, and there’s that weird list with French Montana. Drake is not immune to the misogyny in hip-hop culture, he celebrates it. Has Drake really shown us that he is the kind of ally to women we would expect to refuse to work with Chris Brown? 

Still, why would he want to be tied to Chris? While still commercially successful, Chris Brown has never hid his resentment toward people who won’t overlook his past, and his career has undeniably suffered because there are people who, understandably, refuse to listen to his music. To me, Chris will never be the same and we have a right to choose who to be a fan or who to not be a fan of. Yet every song Drake makes is a hit and he doesn’t commonly suffer PR disasters, so it makes sense that he gets away with working with Chris Brown. 

Before drawing lines around who can work with past abusers and moral arguments around who can be forgiven, then, maybe we have to first see some relationships for what they are. Men sticking by and up for each other is not rare. Men doing that potentially at the expense of Black women is sadly even more common. 

Also attached - Drake out in LA the other night.