A trial for three of the four men accused of killing polarizing hip-hop star XXXTentacion began this month, but much of the narrative has been focused on another A-list musician: Drake, who had a tense dynamic with the late artist that included public call-outs and accusations of flow stealing.
XXXTentacion was killed in Deerfield Beach, Florida, at just 20 years old, and it’s taken more than four years for a trial to begin. Three men, Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams, and Trayvon Newsome are currently facing charges including first-degree murder and armed robbery in connection to X’s death. A fourth suspect, Robert Allen, pled guilty in 2022 and is likely to testify against the other three. (According to WPLG Local 10, Allen has been questioned by prosecutors as of February 15.)
TMZ reports Drake successfully petitioned to avoid a deposition, which was originally pushed by defense attorney Mauricio Padilla in connection to the feud between Drake and XXX. According to Rolling Stone, Drake had been facing a court order to testify via Zoom on February 24th, based on the attorney’s argument that, “Before X died, he said, ‘If anybody kills me, it’s Drake.’” (That comment referenced a 2018 social media post, which X later said was the result of his account being hacked.)
After the initial attempt to get Drake to speak, his attorney, Bradford Cohen, said, “No evidence has been provided to substantiate the assertion that [Drake] in any way contributed to, had knowledge of, or participated in the alleged incident and to mandate that he appear for deposition for something that he very clearly has no relevant knowledge of is unreasonable.”
The Drake and XXXTentacion beef has specious origins, beginning back in 2017 when the young Florida musician accused the Canadian veteran of cribbing the flow from his breakthrough hit, “Look at Me!” On Drake’s “KMT,” he uses a similar cascading flow, which was the subject of intense internet scrutiny.
In a March 2017 interview with a Miami radio station, XXXTentacion said, “I fuck with Drake, Drake’s a genius,” but later added, “He’s not a man. I think he’s a bitch, that’s a bitch move…If he had showed me that he’s a hospitable person and that’s he’s really in this shit for the culture, rather [than] taking my shit, running off with it and then putting it on his album, then he would’ve gotten my kudos, gotten my respect.”
Drake largely did not engage with X, but did subsequently deny the plagiarism accusation in an interview with DJ Semtex. “So I go and find what song they’re talking about, and I listen to it and I’m like okay, I see where people could draw this comparison off of the first two lines, whether it be cadence or the rhyme pattern or whatever,” he said. “It’s crazy that people think that after all this time, after all I’ve been through, that I’m the type of person…to go and take that and make it my own. I’m not stupid, I’m not a shit person like that.”
It is possible that Padilla could try and have Drake subpoenaed again for a different reason, and invoking the names of other celebrities seems to be a clear part of the defense strategy. In December, Padilla received attention and criticism for submitting a list of potential witnesses that included Drake, Quavo, 6ix9ine, and even the late Takeoff.