At some point, Drake and Beyoncé recorded a song together called "Can I."
On Friday, while deejaying his radio station OvoSound on Apple Music's Beats 1, Drake played "Can I." We can't say he "released" it, because he didn't. You can't buy it on iTunes. You can't listen to an official release on YouTube or SoundCloud. The only way to listen to "Can I" is by clicking on a version uploaded illegally by a fan.
But I've had "Can I" on my phone and several playlists for almost six months.
"Can I" seems to be a collaboration single between Drake and Beyoncé potentially for Drake's upcoming album Views From the 6. Maybe. The song leaked in May—before summer, before Drake's collaboration album with Future, before we all succumbed to that terrible song "Cheerleader."
When "Can I" found its way onto the internet, neither Drake nor Beyoncé commented on its existence. There was zero promotion for the song.
Let's listen to "Can I" real quick:
There's one verse, with 10 couplets, some of which are repeated. Beyoncé's major role is to repeat the phrase "Can I… baby?" over and over again, with Drake's rapped verses between her question. It's a Drake song, but it's Beyoncé's part, that repeated refrain, that gets stuck in your head (and makes you want to gouge your eyes out on first listen).
Can I bring you to the six where I really stay, baby?/
Show you why I am the way I am /
Can I tell you what I think my biggest flaw is, baby? /
I try to be consistent, but I can't
I like this song. I think it's sexy and interesting. I think it makes commentary on how communication between lovers can become unnecessarily complicated. I also think it's a great playlist song. Throw it on your running list. Throw it on your party list. Throw it on your wake-up list. It works everywhere.
Except it doesn't. Because you can't have it.
Both Beyoncé and Drake have dropped surprise albums that hit number one and produced several addictive singles. For Beyoncé that album was her 2013 self-titled masterpiece. Drake's most recent surprise was his mixtape If You're Reading This It's Too Late, which dropped earlier this year. They have both been, for the most part, exceptionally smart business people. They sell albums in an economy and industry that no longer supports that. They sell out tours. They make videos on YouTube that people want to watch as well as listen to.
And they're invested in streaming, the future of music: Beyoncé has signed on to the fledgling and fumbling streaming platform Tidal. Drake has signed a deal with the also fledgling and kind of fumbling streaming platform Apple Music.
So why tease fans with this song? Why not make it a single fans can legally obtain and listen to? Why not upload it to a streaming platform? ANY streaming platform? Instead of forcing your fans to listen to your song without paying for it? The version of this song uploaded to YouTube currently has over 4 million views. Views that could belong to Beyoncé or Drake if either of them would upload it.
I don't get it. There are conspiracy theories to be written about whether this has to do with Beyoncé's husband Jay-Z's obsession with Tidal battling with Drake's Apple allegiance. Maybe the two of them are waiting to drop a whole collaboration album. Maybe they have other magical plans for this song that we cannot know yet.
But then again, of all the stars in the sky, Beyoncé and Drake are probably two of the least concerned about money. They have room to experiment, and room to be just plain dumb.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.