Thereâs 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 âÂ despite being a teenage superfan of Pusha Tâs former outfit ClipseÂ â decided to side with his label boss Lil Wayne in a disagreement about who was allowed to wear a specific brand of jacket. Thatâs a much as Iâm going to say about that whole thing.
Drake then properly entered the ring on 2011âsÂ âDreams Money Can Buyâ, rapping âmy favourite rappers either lost it or ainât aliveâ. No specific names were named regarding which of Drakeâs favourite rappers had âlost itâ, but his stated fandom of Clipse led people to make assumptions. Pusha T responded with his own freestyle, âDonât Fuck With Meâ, also naming no names, but delivered over theÂ âDreams Money Can BuyâÂ beat and calling out ârappers on their sophomores actin like they boss lordsâ. Drake released his second album that year. The beef was on.
Continuing to speak largely in code, Pusha T releasedÂ âExodus 23:1âÂ a few months later, in which he still listed no names but suggested that having a complicated record contract â by being signed to an imprint of an imprint of another record label â was âbad luckâ. Drake, at the time, was signed to Lil Wayneâs Young Money, a subsidiary of Cash Money Records, which itself is an imprint of Universal Music.
A year later, Drake releasedÂ âTuscan LeatherâÂ in which he expressed dismay at people speaking ill of his âmentorâ, being particularly exasperated at âbench players talkin like startersâ. 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. Itâs 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 hisÂ âHGTVâÂ freestyle, he complained that âitâs too far gone when the realest ainât realâ, suggesting that some (as ever unnamed) rappers were delivering their most biting lines âwith a questionable pen so the feelin ainât realâ.
Less than two weeks later, Drake aired a new track from his then upcoming âMore Lifeâ project,Â âTwo Birds, One Stoneâ, which bemoaned rappers who reel off âdrug dealer storiesâ but in fact only acted as âa middle manâ. The horror! Again, no names named, but everyone read between the lines. Because reading between the lines is fun, right?
Anyway, itâs all just kicked off again. And definitely not just because both rappers have new albums to promote.
Out last week, Pusha Tâs âDaytonaâ album features a track,Â âInfraredâ, which lets rip on Drake, again calling into question the authorship of his raps. InÂ 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 âdeal in truths all summer longâ.
But Drake had his own truths to dish out, responding quickly withÂ âDuppy Freestyleâ, promising Pusha T a âcruel summerâ. 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 Tâs label â Kanye Westâs GOOD Music â a subsidiary of Def Jam, which is a division of Universal Music, by the way â for all the hitherto free promotion the feud had given âDaytonaâ. He duly followed this up (at Pusha Tâs request) by postingÂ a $100,000 invoiceÂ for âpromotional services and career revivingâ.
Did Pusha T back down? No, he did not. Thereâs a whole summer of this to come, remember. He responded withÂ âThe Story Of Adidonâ, 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. âThis is a REAL pictureâ,Â tweetedÂ Pusha T. âThese are his truths, see for yourselfâ.
Of course, a picture on its own doesnât 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) â insisted that the picture was intended to make a statement.
Drake himself then clarified that, in a post on Instagram, saying: âI 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 entertainmentâ.
âMe 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 auditionsâ, he continued. âThis 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 muchâ.
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 Tâs is winning the latest round of this long-term beef. Although theyâre forgetting that Drakeâs new album, âScorpionâ, isnât out yet, and nor is the summer over. So I think itâs 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 toÂ rumoursÂ that he was the one who told Pusha T about Drakeâs supposed lovechild, heÂ tweeted: âGet off my dick, keep my name out dat gossip blog shit. Whoâs providing tips? Quidditch ass niggas, ridin Harry Potter stick to find da snitchâ. Well, exactly.
Despite the reference to a childrenâs story there, I think itâs important to note that everyone involved in this is an actual grown-up.