This week, one of the most exciting hip-hop beefs in years took shape, as Drake and Pusha T started firing shots at each other through a handful of songs.
But to really get to the beginning of the feud, we need to go back to the mid-2000s when Drake's mentor Lil Wayne was fighting with Pusha T's hip-hop group, Clipse. That tension eventually carried over to Drake himself, when Pusha directed these lines from "Don’t Fuck with Me" at Drake: "Rappers on their sophomores / Actin’ like they boss lords / Fame such a funny thing for sure / When n****s start believing all them encores."
A year later, Pusha T doubled down rapping on “Exodus 23:1": "Contract all fucked up / I guess that means you all fucked up / You signed to one n***a that signed to another n***a / That’s signed to three n***as / Now that’s bad luck." Here, he's alluding to Drake's messy contract with Young Money Records.
Drake finally shot back in 2013 with a couple of lines from "Tuscan Leather (Nothing Was the Same),": "Bench players talkin' like starters / I hate it" and "I'm just as famous as my mentor / But that’s still the boss, don’t get sent for / Get hype on tracks and jump in front of a bullet you wasn’t meant for."
By 2016, things had really heated up, and most of these veiled insults became more direct, with Pusha T referencing Drake's alleged use of ghost writers on "H.G.T.V.": "It’s too far gone when the realest ain’t real / I walk amongst the clouds so your ceilings ain’t real / These n***as Call of Duty 'cause their killings ain’t real / With a questionable pen so the feelin' ain’t real."
Then last year, Drake had his biggest swing yet on "Two Birds, One Stone," on which he talked shit about Pusha T's drug dealing narrative: "But really it’s you with all the drug dealer stories / That’s gotta stop, though / You made a couple chops and now you think you Chapo... You middle-man in this shit, boy you was never them guys / I can tell, 'cause I look most of you dead in your eyes / And you’ll be tryna sell that story for the rest of your lives."
Okay, so now that we're all caught up, let's get to what's happened within the last week. Pusha T released his new Kanye West-produced album Daytona. The track "Infrared" directly compared Drake's rise to that of Donald Trump's and also referenced his alleged ghost writer Quentin Miller. "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."
In less than 24 hours, Drake responded with his own track, "Duppy Freestyle," an entire diss track aimed at Pusha. This in itself is a stunning move. Drake has always been more passive with his other beats, but such an aggressive response is huge for him.
There are a few choice lines on his diss track. In one, he once again attacks Pusha's drug dealing narrative: "Man, you might've sold to college kids for Nike and Mercedes / But you act like you sold drugs for Escobar in the '80s." And in another he gets at Kanye "What do you really think of the n**** that's makin' your beats? / I've done things for him I thought that he never would need / Father had to stretch his hands out and get it from me." Finally he ends with, "Tell 'Ye, 'We got a invoice comin' to you' / Considerin' that we just sold another 20 for you." And sure enough, Drake later Instagramed an image of an OVO invoice.
This is when things get truly vicious. On Tuesday, Pusha released an absolutely savage track about Drake called "The Story of Adidon." Let's start with the artwork, which dug up an old photo of Drake wearing blackface. According to the photographer David Leyes, the photo is "a strong statement made by a black man about the fucked up culture he is living in." Yet, even in this context, it does not look good for Drake.
Then there's the song, which absolutely dismantles Drake's good guy persona. Pusha brings up Drake's alleged secret child with adult film star Sophie Brussaux. While these are only rumors, Pusha talks about them with complete certainty: "A baby's involved, it's deeper than rap / We talkin' character, let me keep with the facts / You are hiding a child, let that boy come home / Deadbeat mothafucka, playin' border patrol, ooh / Adonis is your son / And he deserves more than an Adidas press run, that’s real / Love that baby, respect that girl / Forget she’s a porn star, let her be your world."
It's certainly been a while since we've had a rap beef this high profile, this brutal, and one that has resulted in so much actual music this quickly. And what's unique about this feud in particular is how great the responses have been. Pusha and Drake put together absolutely savage takedowns in mere days. Plus, the production and actual music has been excellent on both. As long as it results in this type of music being produced, we're absolutely here for it.
What's also interesting is how compelling the arguments are that both of these rappers have made. It's truly some excellent rhetoric, that might actually convince fans to think a little bit differently about their heroes-something we've certainly had to do quite a bit lately.
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