by Dom Jones
Pusha T recently released an album, DAYTONA, on Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label. The album’s last song, “Infrared,” comes out of the gate taking obvious shots at Canadian actor turned rapper, Drake:
“N****s beats is bangin’, n***a, ya hooks did it/
The lyric pennin’ equal the Trumps winnin’/
The bigger question is how the Russians did it/
It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin/
At the mercy of a game where the culture’s missing/
When the CEO’s blinded by the glow, it’s different/
Believe in myself and the Coles and Kendricks/
Let the sock puppets play in their roles and gimmicks…”
…and the lyrical assault continues. The question of whether Quentin Miller was (or still is) Drake’s ghostwriter has long been lingering in the air. It hasn’t really tarnished Drake’s image because he’s had yet to meet, in my opinion, a valiant opponent. Drake’s beef with Meek Mill was more like the popular seniorclassman who is also captain of the football team and prom king beating up the new kid who is trying to look cool in some off-brand clothes and hair done by his grandma. It wasn’t a fair fight, and even though Drake came out as the perceived victor, I didn’t respect that kind of win. When I heard Pusha’s diss, I thought it was a quick, hard jab, and I knew then that Drake shouldn’t attempt a response. From the beginning, I knew Drake had lost before he’d uttered a bar over a beat. Pusha T is not Meek Mill, and real hip-hop fans know that. He’s not new to hip-hop (or beef, for that matter), and he definitely writes his own lyrics. Pusha may not be as popular as Drake, but that’s irrelevant in the stadium of rap battling. In fact, Drake’s popularity could only propel Pusha further into the spotlight… if Drake responded. He did respond, with the “Duppy Freestyle,” which was a respectable response:
“…Don’t push me when I’m in album mode/You not even top 5 as far as your label talent goes,”
“…There’s no malice in your heart, you’re an approachable dude/
Man, you might’ve sold to college kids for Nike and Mercedes/
But you act like you sold drugs for Escobar in the ’80s/
I had a microphone of yours, but then the signature faded/
I think that pretty much resembles what’s been happenin’ lately…“
“I really shouldn’t have given you none of my time/
‘Cause you older than the n***a you runnin’ behind”
These are hard-hitting lines that all show that Drake (or his alleged ghostwriter) is no pushover (…at least he recited the lyrics?). Drake even sent an invoice to Pusha’s label for so-called “career reviving.” BUT WE ALL KNEW IT WASN’T OVER. Of course, Pusha would respond, yet I don’t think any of us were prepared for the way in which he would respond. The cover art for his response (which is now gone) was a photo of a younger Drake in blackface. With or without context, especially in the age of social media, this immediately raised questions and ire in a lot of people. The song itself, “The Story of Adidon,” would be the blow from which Drake would not recover:
The song calls into question Drake’s identity crisis as a mixed-race man, his mother’s happiness, his father’s absence in his life, and the knockout punch… that Drake is allegedly hiding a child. Many other reports on this feud have noted that this part of the song was a heavy uppercut because it didn’t just humiliate Drake as a rapper, it called his entire brand into question. And as Pusha T went on a press tour, promoting his album and assuring fans that he had more diss records at the ready, should Drake respond, Drake went into PR-mode, releasing a statement to explain the blackface picture. This was probably the worst move he could have made, from a rap perspective. In rap beef, there aren’t supposed to be teams in the background trying to make sure each opponent’s image remains glistening and clean. It’s survival of the fittest and hands are going to get dirty. I still waited for a lyrical response. A response that, apparently, will never come. J. Prince, an industry executive close to Drake, also went on a press tour: telling everyone that though Drake had a response track, he had been convinced (by J. Prince) not to release it.
No one believes that Drake had a response. What we do believe is that Drake, his team, and his handlers are all trying to protect the money. I guess this is smart from a business perspective, but no one cares about that in rap battles, which is why Drake lost this fight before it even started. He has more to lose (financially) than Pusha T, and he’s unwilling to lose it. It’s a sad ending for hip-hop fans, who were ready for a summer of lyrical boxing between the two. Many say that this will eventually just be a small, unnoticeable blemish on Drake’s career, that he’ll move on and continue to dominate the charts. I’m not sure if I agree with that. His “good guy” image has been called into question, and until he responds ON WAX, that question mark (at least for me) is a cloud hanging over his head.
What do you think of the beef between Drake & Pusha T? Sound off in the comments!