Depending on who you're a fan of, this year's MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) will either be remembered as the yellow-tinted comeback of VMA queen BritBrit or the time Beyoncé essentially turned a ceremony into her own concert venue (and smashed a camera with a baseball bat). But others got stuck on Drake presenting Rihanna with the Video Vanguard Award, and the reason for that is right in the stare of the "Stay" singer at the end of this video:
"She's someone I have been in love with since I was 22 years old."
Said Drake, Canadian rapper and meme-making fodder, to the entire MTV crowd. And anybody who'd heard "Work" at least once in their lives was left with the same question: What does it mean? Are the two an item? Have they ever been? But a few days later, the rejected-Drake memes were already headed for the recycling bin, because the once-shy Rihanna and the rapper had suddenly got matching tattoos!
To help shed some light in the obscure world of tabloid rumor-fueled celebrity love, here's a scroll through the presumed timeline of Rihanna and Drake's rocky relationship.
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2009: The First Kiss
Although they'd known each other since 2005, as MTV reports in the picture above, the first time the rapper and the pop star were spotted getting close was in May 2009, when they allegedly kissed at a bowling alley in New York City. Note that this was 7 years ago, when Drake was... 22 years old.
2009: Just Friends
A few months later, however, Rihanna laughed off the rumors in a radio interview with Angie Martinez, insisting that Drake and her were just friends.
2010: Thank Me Later
2010 marked the release of Drake's first album, Thank Me Later. The first track, titled "Fireworks," features these telling lines:
I could tell it wasn't love I just thought you fuck with meWho could've predicted Lucky Strike would have you stuck with meDamn, I kept my wits about me luckilyWhat happened between us that night it always seems to trouble meNow all of a sudden these gossip brags wanna cover meAnd you making it seem like it happened that way because of meBut I was curious and I'll never forget it babyWhat an experienceYou could've been the one but it wasn't that serious
Oh, little side note: Lucky Strike is the name of the bowling alley where their first rumored kiss happened.
2010: The First Shade
That same year, a Drake interview with the New York Times ended with a not-so-sweet note on Rihanna:
"I was a pawn. You know what she was doing to me? She was doing exactly what I've done to so many women throughout my life, which is show them quality time, then disappear. I was like, wow, this feels terrible."
2010: Flirting By The Milk Aisle
Despite the accusations, 2010 ended on a better note with the release in November of the music video for "What's My Name?," in which Rihanna and Drake got hot and steamy buying fresh milk.
2011: Drake Is Still Hurt
After a few sexy performances together at various award shows, the pair stopped fueling rumors until Drake spoke out about their relationship once more, this time with Elle Magazine:
"At the time it hurt, but she didn't mean to. I'll never put that on her. I was hurt because I started to slowly realize what it was. I guess I thought it was more."
2012: Taking Care Of Each Other
Drake's "Take Care," for which the video featuring Rihanna was released in April 2012, is jammed with meaningful lyrics:
I've asked about you and they told me things / But my mind didn't change / And I still feel the same.
And mostly this bit:
Can't deny that I want you / but I'll lie if I have to / 'Cause you don't say you love me / To your friends when they ask you / Even though we both know that you do (you do).
2012: Battle Of The Exes?
Only four months later and TMZ published news of a bar fight between Drake and Chris Brown, Rihanna's ex. While the rapper denied the fight had anything to do with the lady, later reports confirmed that love competition between the two had been the spark of the altercation.
At the VMAs that same year, Brown and Rihanna were spotted kissing; she refrained from clapping when Drake collected his award on stage.
2013: We Had Our Moment
Never one to shy away from an awkward confrontation, Ellen didn't beat around the bush when Drake appeared on her set a year later, asking him if he'd dated Rihanna. Drake doesn't say yes, doesn't say no, admitting that "we had our moment."
2014: The Ultimate Fantasy
In early 2014, the two were spotted again in the same place enough times that interviewers with one or the other would still mention their relationship. Talking to Rolling Stone in February, Drake seemed to have moved on:
"She's the ultimate fantasy. I mean, I think about it. Like, 'Man, that would be good.' We have fun together, she's cool and shit. But we're just friends."
However, that was the same month Chris Brown's rep told Page Six that he was "happy that she found someone." So who did she find if not Drake?
2015: Rihanna's A Busy Girl
A November 2015 interview with Vanity Fair revealed two things about Rihanna's love life: The first one, that she considered Chris Brown to have been her last real relationship, the second one that she needed time by herself.
"I'm fine being with myself. I don't want to really let anybody in. I've got too much on my plate, and I'm not even worried about it."
2016: Is Drake Da One?
After a relatively quiet year, the collaborations were happening again; Rihanna got Drake on her "Work" track and in the video, and they were not holding back while performing together. Meanwhile, Drake featured her in his latest album for "Too Good."
Add to that the fact that a super legit "insider" told E! that the two were definitely a couple, and you've finally got a happy couple?
He still loves her and never stopped. Rihanna is the one that's been not wanting to settle down in the past.
2016: Nothing Says Love Like A Giant Billboard
The Video Vanguard Award is a pretty big deal, so when news broke that Rihanna was going to take it home for her decade-long contribution to pop music, Drake figured that a congratulatory card wouldn't really be enough.
With his label Ovo, he penned a message on a giant billboard in a cursive font — does it get any cheesier than that? And Rihanna herself shared a picture.
2016: Driri Is Still A Big Mystery
So, are Driri finally a thing? (I'm not sure this ship name is a thing but I've decided it is.) That look Rihanna gave him at the 2016 VMAs when he professed his undying love for her is clearly awkward. Whether it's awkward because she'd rather have kept it low-key between them or awkward because she has no idea what the heck is he rattling on about, we don't know.
What we do know is that this was a terrible attempt at a kiss:
It's like we're back to square one. Can they still find love after such a hopeless embrace?
2016: The Shark Tattoo Says It All
It looked like they'd hit rock bottom, but Drake knew exactly what he came for. On September 1, Rihanna's tattoo artist posted a picture of a cute little camo shark on her ankle — so far so good.
Now, that shark also happens to be a plush toy that Drake got Rihanna: See him in the corner of their post-VMAs celebratory selfie?
Then of course, this wouldn't be an adorable couple tattoo without a version on Drake. Lo and behold, you can spot it on his arm in this shot he shared from his tour.
Still got doubts? Watch the lovebirds casually kiss on stage in Miami:
It looks like the odds are finally in Drake's favor, so let's wish the two all the best! And a few more musical collaborations, too.
Do you think Drake and Rihanna make a good couple?