From copyright lawsuits to misogynistic lyrics, Drake and 21 Savage’s album is riddled with scandal. If you were on TikTok in 2020, you would know the Vogue magazine challenge, in which users made fake covers showcasing photos of themselves. Fast forward to 2023, and people are getting sued for it—just ask Drake and 21 Savage. While not a TikTok filter, the duo promoted their collaborative album, Her Loss, by editing themselves to be on the cover of Vogue. This album has been a constant source of controversy, not only because of trademark infringement issues, but also due to the subtle sexism sprinkled throughout the album.
While artists usually prioritize advertising in order to gain more listeners, they don’t always think of legal implications when promoting their new music. While advertising their album, Drake and 21 Savage posted the fake cover on Instagram and went so far as to distribute physical issues of the magazine. Drake and 21 Savage declined to interact with Vogue when they reached out to them about the matter.
Vogue believed that its “creative output” had been taken advantage of, since Drake and 21 Savage used them to leverage their album. Although Vogue tried to settle the issue outside of court, Drake and 21 Savage refused to respond; in Nov. 2022, the publication's parent company Condé Nast sued them for $4 million. Vogue, Drake, and 21 Savage eventually settled the lawsuit on Feb. 16, and the two rappers agreed to pay the $4 million.
Besides the disputes that emerged as a result of the ongoing lawsuit, many listeners found their album to be disturbing and sexist because of the controversial lyrics targeting Megan Thee Stallion. In their song "Circo Loco", Drake states, “this bitch lie ’bout gettin’ shots, but she still a stallion.” This line is in reference to Tory Lanez, who had been found guilty of shooting her in the foot in the summer of 2020. Since then, several rappers have been split on picking a side between Megan and Tory. Unsurprisingly, Drake and 21 Savage are two of the rappers that supported Tory Lanez after he had shot her.
In her op–ed in The New York Times, Megan Thee Stallion voiced how the encounter highlights the discrimination Black women experience. “I was recently the victim of an act of violence by a man. After a party, I was shot twice as I walked away from him,” Megan said. She further described how in all industries, but especially hip–hop, women are constantly pitted against each other: “The male–dominated ecosystem can handle only one female rapper at a time.”
Nevertheless, through the song, Drake and 21 Savage decided to undermine her experiences with violence and assault by making a joke out of her getting shot. Later, Megan Thee Stallion responded to the song by saying how rappers, “dog pile on a black woman when she say one of y’all homeboys abused her.”
After all of their efforts to promote the album, Her Loss was not as well–received as Drake and 21 Savage had hoped. NME's album review last fall claimed that Her Loss was “packed with the kind of cheap misogyny that most of the world’s best rappers ditched years ago.” The album was incredibly underwhelming, laced with misogyny, and “marred by lazy songwriting.” After a close analysis of the album, NME had granted it a mere three stars.
However, for the week of Nov. 19, 2022, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, replacing Midnights by Taylor Swift. For all its controversies, the popularity of the album was not affected, with a whopping 513 million total streams of combined tracks that week. This may have been because a lot of listeners were unaware of the intricacies associated with this album.
In many ways, the album was a success to Drake and 21 Savage, based on its streams and relevancy in the news. But marred with scandal, this album has not aged well. From its $4 million lawsuit, to its uninventive, taking–hits–on–Black–women lyrical trope, the album is a colossal loss for the duo.