Last year when GQ profiled Rihanna, she confirmed she was back together with Chris Brown by slow-dancing with him in front of GQ's Jay Bulger after he inquired about Drake and Brown competing violently for her love.
Now it's Drake's turn, and in his June 2013 GQ cover story, the 26-year-old solidifies his role as the "nice guy" of that love triangle. (Not that being nicer than Chris Brown is that hard.) At the time of his interview with Michael Paterniti, Chris and Rihanna were on-again. (They are now off-again.) Noting that he doesn't want his name "synonymous with that guy's name," Drake admitted to a fear that "it could end really badly":
"I don't want my name to be synonymous with that guy's name. I really don't. I wish we could sit down, just like you and me are right now, and talk it out man-to-man. But that's not going to happen. I'm not confrontational, but if someone challenges, I'm not going to back down."
Still, none of it sits too well with Drake. "It's embarrassing, the amount of media coverage," he says. "Two rappers fighting over the woman. He's not even a rapper, but still, it's the last way you want your name out there. It distracts from the music. But he's made me the enemy, and that's the way it's gonna stay, I guess."
When I say he seems somewhat Zen about it now—after all the back-and-forth between them this past year, trading barbs on radio shows or blasting them out in song lyrics—he says, "If I think about it too much, I feel it wrapping around my foot, like I get a feeling it could end really badly."
I can't tell if he's worried for Rihanna's safety, whom he won't mention by name. Or about the lengths to which he thinks Brown might go to perpetuate the feud.
When I ask what he means exactly, he says, "Like, it gets really dark."
Then, in rare silence, he won't say more.
So, like the rest of us, Drake apparently watched the Chris-Rihanna relationship in a state of frightened paralysis. His feelings of dread and helplessness are unfortunately common for those close to victims of domestic violence, but watching him struggle over how much distance to maintain is nonetheless heartbreaking.
As for the rest of the profile, it shows Drake in a ruminative mood. He discusses wealth, radically underestimating the value of Roman Abramovich's yacht even as he admits he couldn't afford that price: "Rappers aren't the really rich ones." He talks about Degrassi, dropping out of high school, and his parents. He comes across as sensitive, professionally serious, and emotionally mature.
So why would a guy like that have a history of bar fights over women? Drake's head of security, "a mountain of a man" named Spoon, offers an explanation:
Imagine you and I are in a club, and we met some ladies. I spend $1,000 on a bottle of Ace of Spades champagne, and then you buy the next one. We're 2,000 into it, been having great conversation for an hour, and it's, like, Hey, ladies, would you like to go back to the SLS and take it from there? And then Drake walks in. These girls are like over the rope—all over him, man—and here we are, sitting there with our dicks hard. Drake didn't do nothing. He just walked in, but now you and I have a beef with him, and he just wants a drink. And we're not the only ones. There are a dozen, two dozen just like us. And that's every night when we go to the club.
It's hard out there for a sensitive lover-of-women.