Drake. Kanye West. Jay Z. The Throne. The crown. All in one place. For those who had anything negative to say about the fact that Jay had an 18-word verse, let’s be honest: if you don’t subscribe to Tidal beyond its initial trial period, you didn’t truly want the rest of what he could have brought to the table on that verse.
The real statement made on this song is one of lineage. As once Jay handed the torch to Kanye, Kanye is now doing the same for Drake. Jay’s involvement is really just a symbol of that sequence. He enters, then fades away, back to being “about his business,” as Kanye later raps.
Back on “6PM in New York,” from Drake’s mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, he announces: “You rappin’ like the Throne should be the three of y’all.” But notice Drake keeps himself separated from that “three of y’all” by billing the song as Drake featuring The Throne. He doesn’t just call it “Pop Style” by The Throne, or Drake featuring Kanye West and Jay Z. This may actually be the first time Jay and Kanye have been officially credited as “The Throne,” which makes it even more of a flex for Drake to relegate them to a feature.
What makes “Pop Style” so compelling is that instead of taking this opportunity to completely wash his elders on this would-be monumental song, Drake raps lines like, “Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum.” This is actually a hilarious line in a tongue-in-cheek, corny but lovable Drake way, especially when he ad libs in the affirmative: “They do, they do.” Do they? How did this come about? I hope Drake forces everyone around him to call him Chaining. I hope when one of his lifelong friends says, “Hey Aubrey,” he responds, pointing at his various necklaces: “Please, call me Chaining. Chaining Tatum.” On his verse, he also doesn’t address the fact that he’s on a song with Jay and Kanye, but he does mention Justin Timberlake. This is all to show that Drake is in a position now where he can be on a song with his two idols, and just have fun with it without being threatened by the symbolic weight of the collaboration.
Perhaps the most relevant lyric, though, in this situation, is not from “Pop Style,” but from Drake’s verse on DJ Khaled’s “I’m on One,” from 2011. “I’m just feeling like the throne is for the taking, watch me take it,” he raps. Maybe the fact that Drake can make playful references to 2002 Justin Timberlake on a 2016 song with The Throne means that he actually did make good on that 2011 promise. Or maybe, the fact that Kanye can get away with making the same reference and then proceed to “throw a thick bitch on a Kawasaki” means that no one is really competing with each other on this song, it isn’t that serious, and everyone was just trying to have a little fun.