Photo: Christopher Polk (Getty Images)

Drake’s always been good at controlling the narrative around him, alternately leaning into his corniness and his penchant for drama, aligning himself with other emcees and labels as best fits the landscape. But his narrative was ripped out of his hands when Pusha T released the withering “Story Of Adidon,” a scorched-earth diss track that most notably called the rapper out for having secretly fathered a child. “You are hiding a child, let that boy come home,” Pusha rapped, “Deadbeat mothafucka playin’ border patrol.” Then he made fun of Drake’s longtime producer, Noah “40" Shebib, for having multiple sclerosis. It was some brutal shit.

Drake responded only to the damning photos Pusha published alongside the track, which featured the rapper in blackface, and he did that not via response track but Instagram post. A few days later, it became clear that no musical response was forthcoming. Kanye—sort of stuck in the middle here, having produced the Pusha track that started all of this, but also having long relied on Drake’s lyrical and melodic help—tweeted it was over. Behind-the-scenes hip-hop impresario J Prince told a radio station that he had quietly reached out to Drake and told him to squash the beef. Pusha declared it was time to go “back to the music.”

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But, of course, the release of Drake’s new Scorpion was always on the horizon, and he’s aware that he wasn’t releasing the record into a vacuum. It finally came out last night, and on it, the rapper addresses fatherhood and the Pusha beef multiple times. The first comes a few tracks in, on “Emotionless”:

I wasn’t hidin’ my kid from the world
I was hidin’ the world from my kid
From empty souls who just wake up and looked to debate
Until you starin’ at your seed, you can never relate
Breakin’ news in my life, I don’t run to the blogs
The only ones I wanna tell are the ones I can call
They always ask, “Why let the story run if it’s false?”
You know a wise man once said nothin’ at all

Which is some semantic-ass shit, but at least he’s coming out with it. He wraps it in breezily on the later “8 Out Of 10,” which responds to both Pusha and Kanye, saying, “The only deadbeats is whatever beats I been rappin’ to.” Later on the same track he takes a swipe at Kanye’s string of seven-track LPs, saying, “All sevens, no sixes, rest easy, get some shut eye.”

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And finally, picking up his long tradition of tracks named after specific moments—“6PM In New York,” “4PM In Calabasas”—the set ends with “March 14,” an introspective cut rapped almost entirely to his son. He starts off:

Yesterday morning was crazy
I had to come to terms with the fact that it’s not a maybe
That shit is in stone, sealed and signed
She not my lover like Billie Jean, but the kid is mine
Sandi used to tell me all it takes is one time
And all it took was one time
Shit, we only met two times, two times

Much of the rest of the track details the moment he found out, and his newfound dedication to fatherhood—“I promise if I’m not dead then I’m dedicated / This is the first positive DNA we ever celebrated.” For what it’s worth, he’s not exactly trying to look like the good guy in lines like these:

I got an empty crib in my empty crib
I only met you one time, introduced you to Saint Nick
I think he musta brought you like twenty gifts
Your mother say you growin’ so fast that they don’t even really fit

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Elsewhere on the LP, he addresses his silence in the wake of Pusha’s attack, saying on album opener “Survival”:

I fell back a hundred times when I don’t get the credit
Seen this movie a hundred times, I know where it’s headed
Realize someone gotta die when no one’ll dead it
Niggas gamblin’ with they life for some content
That’s the type of lottery that could get your top picked

None of which will probably change anybody’s preexisting opinion about Drake, but it’s spread out through a whole lot of music—over 90 minutes, neatly divided between a more rap-focused side A and a more melodic side B. It’s an indulgent release from the new 2018 Drake, who, despite everything above, seems determined to be embracing the self-awareness that defines his hosting gigs rather than the neediness and grouchiness that has often marked his work since 2015 or so.

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Also, he somehow got his hands on an unreleased Michael Jackson track for “Don’t Matter”? That shit must’ve cost a fortune.