Drake and Taylor Swift have been good friends for several years, and have often spoken out about their mutual respect and admiration for one another’s work.
In fact, Taylor namechecked the rapper in her Lover album track “I Forgot That You Existed,” where she sings: “In my feelings more than Drake.”
Prior to the album’s release in 2019, Taylor had posed for the cover of Entertainment Weekly, wearing a denim jacket that was covered in pins. She said at the time that she “wanted to rep as many things/people I love on the jacket.”
The pins included references to Game of Thrones, Friends, the musical Cats, the Dixie Chicks, and a Pride heart, as well as a button of Drake from his “Hotline Bling” music video.
And Taylor and Drake’s friendship is longstanding, with the two singing each other’s songs in commercials for Apple Music way back in 2016.
Taylor’s ad came out first, with the singer falling off a treadmill after she got carried away singing along to Drake’s collaboration with Future, “Jumpman,” in the short clip.
It was at around this time that rumors of Taylor and Drake collaborating in the studio began to swirl. In November 2016, a source told the Sun that Taylor wanted to “try something different and unexpected for the next album.”
And the success of her “Bad Blood” remix, which featured Kendrick Lamar, was said to be a factor in her plan to team up with Drake. The insider added: “Drake has been her friend for a while and it seemed a no-brainer that she would spend time in the studio with him.”
“As well as writing with Taylor, he’s producing a few tracks and even lent his vocals to one song. It’s a real mix of edgier hip-hop and R&B sounds,” they went on.
Almost exactly a year later, Taylor released her sixth studio album, Reputation, and fans were surprised that there was no Drake feature in any of the 15 tracks.
But five years after Reputation’s release, Drake has reignited speculation that he and Taylor will be teaming up for a song together after he randomly posted a throwback photo with her to his Instagram page on Monday.
His 107 million followers were stunned to see the snap at the end of a carousel post that was otherwise comprised of photos of just him and his son.
In the photo, Drake has his arm wrapped around Taylor’s neck, and she is holding onto him while leaning her head into the crook of his arm.
“They too soft to understand the meaning of hard work,” Drake captioned the post, which Taylor has yet to respond to.
Taylor’s fans quickly found video footage of Taylor in what looked like the exact same outfit that she is wearing in the photo and worked out that it was most likely taken on the same day, which was toward the end of 2016.
Sharing the snippet to Twitter, a fan wrote: “The way Joe took this video the same exact day Taylor and Drake took that picture together. Same outfit, hair, and she’s wearing the hair tie in both the video and picture.”
As for why Drake decided to share the throwback now, it has been speculated that the post is an Easter egg to hint at the imminent release of a Taylor rerecording that he will feature on.
In case you missed it, Taylor is in the process of rereleasing her first six albums after her old label, Big Machine Records, refused to sell her the masters of her original recordings and instead brokered a deal with her nemesis, Scooter Braun.
Shortly after this happened in 2019, Taylor vowed to rerecord the music so that she could legally own the albums and also devalue the originals to prevent Scooter from profiting.
So far, she has released her own versions of Fearless, and Red, with each containing several previously unreleased tracks “from the vault” that she'd originally written for the respective albums but didn't make the final cut.
Fans are therefore convinced that Drake has all but confirmed that he will feature on an upcoming vault track, but they are torn on what album this means that Taylor will release next.
The obvious choice is, of course, Reputation, as this is the album that was released after the rumors of Taylor and Drake’s collaboration first emerged.
One fan wrote: “Reputation (Taylor's Version) feat Drake just saying.” While another added: “Drake x Taylor omfg Reputation era all over again.”
However, many hardcore Swifties believe that he will actually feature on Taylor’s 1989 rerelease, which first came out in 2014 and was her breakout pop album.
There are several reasons for this, with the biggest one based on the fact that most recording contracts often state that artists can’t rerecord songs until five years after their release date, according to Rolling Stone.
Reputation came out in November 2017, which means that if Taylor does have this contract then she can’t even begin rerecording it until November of this year, suggesting a 2023 release at the earliest.
Meanwhile, 1989 is the album that included “Bad Blood,” the song that Drake sang along to in his Apple commercial.
Fans also noticed that the photo with Taylor was Drake’s fifth photo in his Instagram carousel, and 1989 is Taylor’s fifth album.
They then pointed out that the photo looks a lot like a polaroid, with polaroids a key part of Taylor’s 1989 promotional rollout back in 2014.
“TAYLOR FT DRAKE ON 1989 TV? THIS PIC LOOKS LIKE A POLAROID OMG…” one fan tweeted. Another person wrote: “It’s the fifth slide on his post and 1989 is her 5th album,,, Taylor ft. Drake coming.”
But over on Reddit, it was Taylor’s unconfirmed “unreleased album” Karma that commanded attention, with some fans pointing out that the timelines appeared to match.
If you’re unaware, there’s a hugely popular fan theory that Taylor was forced to scrap an album called Karma back in 2016 following her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
The theory largely stems from the fact that Taylor released a new album every two years like clockwork between 2006 and 2014, with each one coming with a whole new style and hairdo to mark a new era for Taylor.
In the lead-up to 1989’s two-year anniversary, Taylor appeared to debut an edgy, rock-inspired look complete with bleached blonde hair. While we saw a lot of this style in Taylor’s red carpet appearances, interviews, and photoshoots throughout 2016, we never got an album that embodied the new look.
And just three months before her new album was expected to be released, Taylor faced huge public backlash when her and Kimye’s feud over his single “Famous” exploded. Instead of a new album, Taylor retreated from the public eye completely and did not return until a year later, in August 2017, when she began to tease Reputation’s release.
The way that Taylor’s decision to step away from the public eye occurred at almost exactly the same time that fans were expecting a new album prompted speculation that she was planning on releasing something else entirely before starting her Reputation era. The name Karma was then picked up through various hints that Taylor has dropped over the years.
And considering the rumors about her and Drake collaborating were first reported right in the middle of 1989 and Reputation, which is also where Karma would be, it’s not too much of a stretch to speculate that the original collaboration was intended for this scrapped album.
Fans have already argued that Taylor’s rerecords and the release of previously unheard songs “from the vault” could well mean that we might finally get to hear Karma this year, and Drake’s Instagram post has fueled this theory.
“KARMA IS COMING OMMMMMGGGG,” one Redditor said in response to the photo. Another replied: “Dear god, I hope so. Releasing Karma before Rep would be a perfect ‘second chance’ to release it in the order she intended.”
While this could all seem like a massive reach for those who are less familiar with Taylor’s ways, the singer is incredibly open about purposefully hiding Easter eggs, clues, and hints for fans to find ahead of her new releases.
In November, Taylor told Jimmy Fallon that this has become “a tradition” between herself and her fans, adding: “We started a very long time ago. I think the first time that I started dropping sort of cryptic clues in my music was when I was 14 or 15, putting together my first album."
“I wanted to do something that incentivized fans to read the lyrics because my lyrics are what I'm most proud of out of everything that I do," she added. "When I was a kid, I used to read through CD booklets and just read the teeny, tiny print and obsess over it."
And in 2019, Taylor told Entertainment Weekly that she loves to see the theories her fans come up with, explaining: “I've trained them to be that way. I love that they like the cryptic hint-dropping. Because as long as they like it, I'll keep doing it. It's fun. It feels mischievous and playful."
So although there is a chance that Drake dropped that throwback photo just to mess with us all, it is also entirely likely that he actually does feature on a new Taylor album... And it could be released at a moment’s notice.