And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week Releases

Beef Of The Week #406: Pusha T v Drake

By | Published on Friday 1 June 2018

Pusha T

There’s nothing quite like a good hip hop beef, is there? A lot of the disputes we cover in this column are flashes in the pan, but a rap feud can run and run for years based on little more than a few cryptic lines and a similar marketing schedule.

The dispute between Drake and Pusha T dates back years, when Drake – despite being a teenage superfan of Pusha T’s former outfit Clipse – decided to side with his label boss Lil Wayne in a disagreement about who was allowed to wear a specific brand of jacket. That’s a much as I’m going to say about that whole thing.

Drake then properly entered the ring on 2011’s ‘Dreams Money Can Buy’, rapping “my favourite rappers either lost it or ain’t alive”. No specific names were named regarding which of Drake’s favourite rappers had “lost it”, but his stated fandom of Clipse led people to make assumptions. Pusha T responded with his own freestyle, ‘Don’t Fuck With Me’, also naming no names, but delivered over the ‘Dreams Money Can Buy’ beat and calling out “rappers on their sophomores actin like they boss lords”. Drake released his second album that year. The beef was on.

Continuing to speak largely in code, Pusha T released ‘Exodus 23:1’ a few months later, in which he still listed no names but suggested that having a complicated record contract – by being signed to an imprint of an imprint of another record label – was “bad luck”. Drake, at the time, was signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money, a subsidiary of Cash Money Records, which itself is an imprint of Universal Music.

A year later, Drake released ‘Tuscan Leather’ in which he expressed dismay at people speaking ill of his “mentor”, being particularly exasperated at “bench players talkin like starters”. This was seemingly a reference back to the concurrent beef between Lil Wayne and Pusha T.

And there it ended. No more was said. If, indeed, anything at all had been said already. It’s hard to tell. But then in 2015, Meek Mill accused Drake of using ghostwriters. And on that allegation, Pusha T could not hold his tongue. I mean, he did, for over a year. But I guess he was just biding his time, or something.

On his ‘HGTV’ freestyle, he complained that “it’s too far gone when the realest ain’t real”, suggesting that some (as ever unnamed) rappers were delivering their most biting lines “with a questionable pen so the feelin ain’t real”.

Less than two weeks later, Drake aired a new track from his then upcoming ‘More Life’ project, ‘Two Birds, One Stone’, which bemoaned rappers who reel off “drug dealer stories” but in fact only acted as “a middle man”. The horror! Again, no names named, but everyone read between the lines. Because reading between the lines is fun, right?

Anyway, it’s all just kicked off again. And definitely not just because both rappers have new albums to promote.

Out last week, Pusha T’s ‘Daytona’ album features a track, ‘Infrared’, which lets rip on Drake, again calling into question the authorship of his raps. In an interview with Vulture, Pusha T said that he was forced to write the track because Drake had questioned his authenticity. I believe Pusha T actually started the authenticity questioning here, but whatever. He then promised that he would “deal in truths all summer long”.

But Drake had his own truths to dish out, responding quickly with ‘Duppy Freestyle’, promising Pusha T a “cruel summer”. He shrugged off the ghostwriting accusation, questioning what the problem was if he collaborated with people on his lyrics from time to time.

He then added that he would be invoicing Pusha T’s label – Kanye West’s GOOD Music – a subsidiary of Def Jam, which is a division of Universal Music, by the way – for all the hitherto free promotion the feud had given ‘Daytona’. He duly followed this up (at Pusha T’s request) by posting a $100,000 invoice for “promotional services and career reviving”.

Did Pusha T back down? No, he did not. There’s a whole summer of this to come, remember. He responded with ‘The Story Of Adidon’, in which he claims that Drake has a secret son he refuses to acknowledge because the mother is a porn star.

The artwork for the track is a controversial photo of Drake made up in blackface and wearing a Jim Crow t-shirt. “This is a REAL picture”, tweeted Pusha T. “These are his truths, see for yourself”.

Of course, a picture on its own doesn’t really tell that many truths. Seemingly Pusha T wanted people to believe that Drake just goes around in blackface in his spare time to indulge a secret racist streak.

But both the photographer who took the shot, David Lewes, and clothing brand Too Black Guys, which made the Jim Crow t-shirt (but said that the photo was not taken to promote the range) – insisted that the picture was intended to make a statement.

Drake himself then clarified that, in a post on Instagram, saying: “I know everyone is enjoying the circus, but I want to clarify this image in question. This was not from a clothing brand shoot or my music career. This picture is from 2007, a time in my life where I was an actor and I was working on a project that was about young black actors struggling to get roles, being stereotyped and typecast. The photos represented how African-Americans were once wrongfully portrayed in entertainment”.

“Me and my best friend at the time Mazin Elsadig, who is also an actor, from Sudan, were attempting to use our voice to bring awareness to the issues we dealt with all the time as black actors at auditions”, he continued. “This was to highlight and raise our frustrations with not always getting a fair chance in the industry and to make a point that the struggle for black actors had not changed much”.

All of which I think you could probably infer from the image itself, but clarity is fun too. Either way, all that clarity seems to suggest Pusha T was wrong to present the photo in a negative light. Nevertheless, people are still saying that Pusha T’s is winning the latest round of this long-term beef. Although they’re forgetting that Drake’s new album, ‘Scorpion’, isn’t out yet, and nor is the summer over. So I think it’s safe to expect more.

Although, for the record, the best statement to come out of all this so far was not delivered by Pusha T or Drake, but A$AP Rocky. Responding to rumours that he was the one who told Pusha T about Drake’s supposed lovechild, he tweeted: “Get off my dick, keep my name out dat gossip blog shit. Who’s providing tips? Quidditch ass niggas, ridin Harry Potter stick to find da snitch”. Well, exactly.

Despite the reference to a children’s story there, I think it’s important to note that everyone involved in this is an actual grown-up.