Drake’s Michael Jackson Lyric In New ‘When To Say When’ Song Draws Backlash

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Drake attends the "Top Boy" UK Premiere at Hackney Picturehouse on September 04, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Drake’s Michael Jackson Lyric In New ‘When To Say When’ Song Draws Backlash

Fans believe the freestyle line is a distasteful allusion to the King of Pop's largest controversy.

Published March 2nd

Written by Danielle Ransom

This past weekend, Drake surprised fans with a pair of solo releases, “When to Say When” and “Chicago Freestyle,” which arrived Saturday night (Feb. 29). 

  1. These tracks come after the Toronto rapper previously surprised fans with “War” on Christmas Eve in 2019. This was followed up by two more releases with Atlanta trapster Future, “Life is Good” and “Desires.” Given his consistency, many feel the tracks are harbingers  to a possible sequel for their 2015 collaboration, What a Time to Be Alive. Drake is also expected to drop the follow-up to his 2018 album, Scorpion, in 2020. 


  2. “When to Say When” and “Chicago Freestyle” were both unveiled in a 4-minute music video. Set in Brooklyn, “When to Say When” is the focus of the first half of the visual and features Drake on a trek around Brooklyn. He pays a visit to the Diamond District and the Marcy Projects, the latter a homage to Brooklyn-bred hip-hop and entrepreneurial mogul Jay-Z, who hails from the neighborhood. The song also taps a sample of Hov’s “Song Cry.” The second part of the Theo Skudra-directed featurette brings viewers back to Drizzy’s own stomping grounds in the city of Toronto as it turns to “Chicago Freestyle,” which samples Eminem’s 2002 hit “Superman.”

    However, the Twitterverse had a lot to say after they combed over the lyrics from “When to Say When” in which Drake name-dropped one of music’s most controversial icons, the late Michael Jackson. In the song, Drake raps, “Michael Jackson, s**t, but the palace is not for kids / Still, women saying it’s childish the way we live.” 

    RELATED:  Drake Surprises Fans With New Song And Video, ‘War’

  3. The lyrics seemingly allude to MJ’s privately-owned Neverland Ranch, which partially functioned as an amusement park until he passed away in 2009.  As nationally reported during the court trials, MJ was charged with seven counts of molesting a minor at the property in 2003. He was later acquitted of the charges following a 2005 trial, but the allegations have continued to hang over his legacy and were revisited in HBO’s Leaving Neverland docuseries.

    Additionally, some listeners have interpreted the lyrics in question as Drake addressing the controversy surrounding rumors of an unbefitting  friendship with Stranger Things star 16-year-old Millie Bobby Brown and pop darling Billie Eilish, who recently turned 18. For others, the lyrics simply haven’t resonated well in light of MJ's controversial legacy.

    See the Twitterverse’s reaction to the lyrics below. 


(Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage)


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