Categories: Music

JAY-Z Gave His Best Verse of The Year to Drake on ‘Certified Lover Boy’

JAY-Z’s appearances on DONDA and Certified Lover Boy are in two very different leagues.

For weeks now, Kanye and Drake have been rekindling their rivalry to set up a release day showdown between their respective 2021 projects, DONDA, and Certified Lover Boy. The drama was high. The bars were decent (at best.) There was even a bit of doxing at work in the pre-drop theatrics. But the surprise centerpiece to both albums was an appearance from JAY-Z, who, as rap’s first billionaire mogul, apparently doesn’t see much of a profit margin in picking sides. And though his allegiances are unclear, we don’t need too much more time with Certified Lover Boy to know that Hov’s latest features, arriving less than a week apart, are in two very different leagues.

On “All Love,” the fifth track from Certified Lover Boy, the Brooklyn rap legend speaks with equal parts calm and urgency about navigating betrayal and toxic relationships. “Niggas wanted to kill me and y’all still with ’em, Nigga, y’all chill with ’em, and y’all wonder why we not friends/Best thing I can do is not build with you, When I could destroy you, that takes some fuckin’ discipline,” Hov says in the song’s second verse, before throwing a few threats out at an unspecified foe and (because nothing says sophistication like quoting a turn-of-the-20th-century play) invoking Oscar Wilde’s “definition of a cynic” as a closer. It’s a short and cagey callback to earlier forms of the rap icon’s on-record demeanor. Not his best lines to date (by a long shot,) but easily his most polished of the year. Especially if we rewind to earlier this week when Hov helped his formerly estranged friend Kanye open DONDA.

Initially previewed during West’s first DONDA listening event at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Arena, JAY”s verse on “Jail” was as rushed and unrefined as the album it landed on several weeks down the line. Rife with biblical references and a strain of status-flexing that hasn’t aged well, Hov’s appearance on DONDA does more to play into the unending melodrama of the album’s cursed rollout than deliver the long-awaited “Watch The Throne Reunion” many had hoped for. For a verse that was recorded just hours before it was released, it’s not terrible. But again, it’s far and wide from his best work with or without Kanye.

That said, if anyone’s cashing in on this supposed feud between the “Pop Style” collaborators, it’s Hov and the handful of other artists who appeared on DONDA and Certified Lover Boy. But if we’re to evaluate these projects on the strength of their Hov features alone, Drake takes it by a mile. And it’s not even close.

Stream Drake’s new album Certified Lover Boy below and scroll on to see some of the reactions to JAY-Z’s appearance.


Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

Published by

Recent Posts

Dave Chappelle Wants to Speak with Protesting Netflix Employees, But Claims He was Never Invited

An organizer of the Netflix employee walkout claimed they invited Dave Chappelle to have "a… Read More

October 21, 2021

How Maxo Kream Turned Personal Tragedy into the ‘Weight of the World’

We spoke with Maxo Kream about the making of Weight of the World, paying tribute… Read More

October 21, 2021

Fans Suspect a New Kendrick Lamar Album is Imminent After Six Songs Leak

Speculation over the next Kendrick Lamar album reaches fever pitch with a new batch of… Read More

October 21, 2021

Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, E-40 & Too $hort — Aka Mount Westmore — Drop Their First Video

The debut single from Mount Westmore has officially been released. Four of the greatest rappers… Read More

October 20, 2021

Erykah Badu Previews ‘BADUBOTRON’ Radio Show with a Funk-Fueled Mix

Erykah Badu spins an hour-plus of deep funk, soul, jazz, and r&b, in the debut… Read More

October 20, 2021

Dave Chappelle Gets The Last Laugh

With every piece of backlash, Dave Chappelle is willfully mythologizing himself as a “victim” of… Read More

October 20, 2021