Drake defends working with Rihanna's ex Chris Brown: 'I didn't want her to ever feel disrespected'

Drake is doing a lot of disclosing in a new podcast interview for Rap Radar. In a lengthy conversation with hosts Elliott Wilson and Brian "B.Dot" Miller totaling more than two hours, the Canadian rapper touched on his relationships — good and bad — with some of the biggest names in music: Pusha T, Kanye West, Jay-Z and his former flame, Rihanna.

Collaborators on tracks like “What’s My Name?” and “Take Care,” the pair have also enjoyed a long on-off romance, and were most recently linked in 2016, the year they released “Work” and “Too Good.” While they’ve each moved on romantically — she is dating Hassan Jameel, while he’s rumored to have had a recent fling with Kylie Jenner — Drake raised eyebrows this summer when he partnered up with an unexpected collaborator: Chris Brown.

Drake is working with Chris Brown, the ex-boyfriend of his former flame Rihanna (pictured with the rap star at the 2016 MTV VMAs). (Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Brown — whose June single “No Guidance” features an appearance by Drake — famously dated Rihanna in the late 2000s. In February 2009, the singer was arrested for assaulting his then-girlfriend, who was photographed with visible injuries on her face. That June, Brown pleaded guilty to a felony and accepted a plea deal which included counseling for domestic violence. Despite the backlash facing Brown, Rihanna briefly reunited with him in 2013, insisting to Rolling Stone that he was “not the monster everybody thinks.” The singers broke up a few months later.

Drake has his own tumultuous background with Brown. Though the two men had collaborated on tracks before, their relationship had soured by 2012. That year they were involved in a violent scuffle at a Manhattan nightclub, which left Brown with a gash to his chin. Trash-talking — including a comment from Drake claiming that Brown was threatened by him because “at one point in life the woman that he loves fell into my lap” — ensued over the next few years.

Chris Brown and Drake rekindled their friendship in 2018, releasing a collaboration this summer. (Photo: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for The h.wood Group)

The news that the stars had ended their feud and hit the recording studio together gave many fans pause, with some accusing Drake of betraying Rihanna’s trust in the process.

According to his new Rap Radar interview, the rapper was also worried that his work with Brown would alienate their common ex.

"That person that was in the middle of us is no longer a part of either of our lives currently and I have the most utmost love and respect for her," Drake said. "I think of her as family more than anything. I felt, I actually had kind of a moment of hesitation before because I didn't want her to ever feel disrespected by me linking up with him." 

Ultimately, however, he has no regrets about reuniting with Brown. He added that their feud seems “silly” in retrospect because “it was over a girl.”

His remarks haven’t impressed some fans, one of whom accused him of being “childish and immature” by blaming the feud on Rihanna.

"‘Rihanna didn't want to date me so I went and teamed up with her abuser’ is pretty f****d up and Drake is bad,” another person commented.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle’s newsletter.