Fans around the world are holding their breath in anticipation of the next development in what very well may be the most exciting rap beef of 2018. In one corner, we have Pusha T: the Bronx-born Virginia native who’s been steady putting out music since the 90s, and who’s currently the president of the GOOD Music record label. In the other corner, we have Drake: the Canadian rap superstar who is recognized and celebrated around the world. Pusha T just dropped his third studio album last week, titled Daytona, and Drake’s fifth studio album is expected to be released next month, titled Scorpion. This makes their feud all the more relevant… And for Drake, quite crucial to the rollout of his upcoming album.
Anyone who just tuned into the static between the two after the release of Daytona is a little late to the party, as Drake and Pusha T’s bad blood can be traced back to situations that took place as early as the 2000s. Although it’s been steadily simmering for all these years, the latest attack by Pusha could be the Pearl Harbor to hip-hop’s next WWII. Before we dive into the beef as it stands today, let’s take a look at how it all started.
In 2006, Lil Wayne was featured on the cover of Vibe Magazine’s April edition wearing BAPE clothing. At the time, The Clipse (a rap duo comprised of Pusha T and his brother, No Malice) and Pharrell had been some of the only figures in the hip-hop industry to be rocking BAPE prominently, which led them to send subliminal shots at Wayne on their track “Mr. Me Too” for jacking their style. In an interview Wayne did with Complex that year, the interviewer mentioned that The Clipse had said they had been wearing BAPE and doing “coke rap” before others started doing the same.
Wayne responded with hostility in the interview, which warranted an equally hostile response from Pusha T when he was interviewed on Virginia’s WWHV Hot 102.1 FM radio show, in which puts Lil Wayne on blast for his infamous kiss with Birdman. He and his brother continue to disparage Wayne in an interview with Laced Magazine the following year. In 2008, Pusha T takes the beef to wax with the “Re-Up Gang Intro” off of The Clipse’s We Got It For Cheap Volume 3 mixtape by rapping, “Sorry, but I don’t respect who you applauding, Little nigga flow, but his metaphors boring, Don’t make me turn daddy’s little girl to orphan, That would mean I’d have to kill Baby like abortion”.
The beef would be later downplayed by Pusha T in a Clipse interview with Power 92.3 FM radio interview in Indiana, in which he says that he “doesn’t do rap beef”. Pusha even went on to shout Weezy out on his “Open Your Eyes” track for being released from Rikers Island. Pusha explained himself in another interview with Complex in 2011:
Ever since Lil Wayne went in to jail, that whole little stint [between me and him] is really dead and over with. I don’t have any ill will towards Wayne, Cash Money, or any of them. There was definitely a time period when I felt a certain way [about him], but as of right now I don’t. That’s just where I once was. I don’t even like speaking on it. [On Fear of God] I actually said, “They had freed Weezy, congratulations.” When I seen Wayne in Miami, I told him, “Congratulations on getting out of jail.”
Contrary to his statement, Pusha came at Wayne once again a year after his 2012 Complex interview with the release of his single, titled “Exodus 23:1”. The entire track is comprised of bars dissing Lil Wayne, but many of the slights were also applicable to Wayne’s new Young Money signee, Drake.
In the same year, Pusha dropped another track titled “Don’t F**k With Me”, which targeted Drake much more overtly than his “Exodus” track may have. Aside from using the beat from Drake’s “Dreams Money Can Buy”, Pusha spits hostility with lines like, “Rappers on their sophomores, actin’ like they boss lords, fame such a funny thing for sure, when n**gas start believing all them encores”.
Some believe Drake responded to Pusha T’s shots with subliminal disses on his “Tuscan Leather” track, which was released roughly a year after on Drake’s Nothing Was The Same album. Regardless of whether those theories are true, Pusha T doubled down on his animosity towards Drake a few years later in 2016 with the release of a single titled “H.G.T.V.”. On the track, Pusha has a few lines that are undeniably directed towards Drake, calling him out on the rumors that were circulating at the time that he uses a ghostwriter.
It's too far gone when the realest ain't real<br> I walk amongst the clouds so your ceilings ain't real<br> These niggas Call of Duty cause their killings ain't real<br> With a questionable pen so the feelin' ain't real
― Pusha-T – H.G.T.V. Freestyle
A year later, Drake returns fire with the 2017 release of Drake’s More Life project. The project included a track titled “Two Birds, One Stone”, in which Drake speaks down on Pusha’s drug-dealing persona that he represents in his music. At this point, the static building between Pusha and Drake is considered to be bona fide rap beef. Push would later be asked about the accuracy of Drake’s bars concerning his drug dealing past in a Complex interview: “I would never, ever attribute that [song] to myself,” he said. “My past is cemented. My past happened. Like slavery happened. The Holocaust happened. You can’t ever question anything that has actually happened. I’m not speaking to [Drake] at all. I’m telling you, the real of it is: It ain’t real if it’s about me.”
But really it's you with all the drug dealer stories<br> That's gotta stop, though<br> You made a couple chops and now you think you Chapo<br> If you ask me though, you ain't lining the trunk with kilos<br> You bagging weed watching Pacino with all your niggas<br> Like, "This what we need to be on," but you never went live<br> You middle-man in this shit, boy, you was never them guys<br> I can tell, 'cause I look most of you dead in your eyes<br> And you'll be tryna sell that story for the rest of your lives
― Drake – Two Birds, One Stone
The beef between Pusha and Drake heated back up recently with the release of Pusha T’s third studio album, Daytona. “Infrared”, One of the songs on the seven-track album, opens up with bars that once again attack Drake’s use of ghostwriters. However, this time Pusha drops Quentin Miller’s name: one of the few, if not the only ghostwriter for Drake that has been exposed so far. Aside from other minor jabs, Pusha also takes the opportunity to reaffirm his legacy as a dope boy at the end of the track, claiming that the only other rapper to sell more dope than him was Eazy-E.
The game's fucked up<br> Nigga's beats is bangin', nigga, ya hooks did it<br> The lyric pennin' equal the Trumps winnin'<br> The bigger question is how the Russians did it<br> It was written like Nas, but it came from Quentin
― Pusha-T – Infrared
Drake didn’t waste any time sending shots back at Pusha T. Within 24 hours, Drake uploaded a track to his OVO Soundcloud account titled “Duppy Freestyle”. Here’s what a Genius annotation had to say about the reasoning behind the title:
The term “duppy” is another name for an evil spirit, demon or the ghost of a dead person, originating from Jamaican folklore. Drake feels like Pusha’s a ghost of the past and isn’t relevant in 2018. Boi-1da, the Jamaican-born producer of the freestyle and longtime Drake collaborator confirmed the ghost reference on Twitter:
— Boi-1da (@Boi1da) May 25, 2018
Whilst the term originated from Jamaica, it’s often used as UK street slang, meaning to destroy or annihilate someone. The word gets used a lot when grime artists beef with each other. The original “Duppy Freestyle” was made by Skepta when he dissed fellow UK rapper Megaman in 2006.
On the track, Drake takes shots at both Pusha T and Kanye West, while also defending his decision to include Quentin Miller as one of his writers. Drake also took another jab at the legitimacy of Pusha’s dope dealing past before he’s done. At the end of the track, Drake raps, “Tell ‘Ye we got a invoice comin’ to you, considering that we just sold another 20 for you”. Here, Drake is implying that the publicity he’s giving to Pusha by releasing his diss track will result in an additional 20,000 units of Pusha’s Daytona album.
After its release, Pusha took to Twitter asking Drake for the invoice, and Drake delivered:
Send the invoice for the extra 20… https://t.co/41rd4OJeMF
— King Push (@PUSHA_T) May 25, 2018
Pusha T’s next move brought the savagery of the beef to unprecedented heights. Just a couple days after Drake’s “Duppy Freestyle”, Pusha dropped a track called “The Story of Adidon”. Pusha used the beat from Jay-Z’s “Story of O.J.” to launch lyrical attack on Drake that holds no punches. Pusha speaks on his Cash Money record deal, Drake’s father leaving him at age 5, and claims Drake is insecure about his racial identity.
Most savage of all are his references to him allegedly hiding an illegitimate child from the public and his mockery of 40’s multiple sclerosis. Pusha name drops the first name of both his baby mama, porn star Sophie Brussaux, and his alleged son, Adonis. While Pusha wasn’t exactly breaking the story for the first time, the information about his was nowhere near as widely known as it is now. Not only did Pusha reveal the name of his son, but the name of the track revealed what is speculated to be the name of Drake’s upcoming clothing line with Adidas. Although Drake and Adidas have yet to announce a partnership, rumors have spread that he will be joining Adidas in June 2018.
In a widely controversial move, Pusha T took aim at one of Drake’s top producers: Noah “40” Shebib. Toward the end of his track, Pusha raps, “OVO 40, hunched over like he 80, tick, tick, tick. How much time he got? That man is sick, sick, sick.” 40 has a condition known as Multiple Sclerosis, a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves, which can result in in tingling sensations, tremors, or bad posture. Coincidentally or not, the release of “The Story of Adidon” was a day before World MS Day, a holiday which promotes awareness of Multiple Sclerosis. Pusha T was hosted on the Breakfast Club shortly after he dropped the track and was asked if he knew this, which he said he didn’t but noted the irony of the situation. On the show, he was also asked if he believed the move to be too far, to which he denied.
One of the biggest disses Pusha made in his move wasn’t actually contained in the lyrics, but rather the cover art for the track. The cover shows a young, smiling Drake wearing blackface and a shirt that shows the cartoon of the racist cartoon crow from the Disney film “Dumbo”. The shirt, and photo, were allegedly part of a photo shoot for a clothing brand called Too Black Guys. According to their website, “Too Black Guys aim[s] to represent the black experience in an unapologetic way” through their clothing. As inquiring minds were passing this information around through social media, Drake came forward to address the controversial photo through a mini-essay he wrote and screenshotted on his phone:
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 type cast. 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 as black actors at auditions. 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.
Drake speaks on “blackface” photos circulating. pic.twitter.com/y3SrOl9DcQ
— Word On Road (@WordOnRd) May 31, 2018
Outside of this explanation, Drake has remained silent on social media, leaving his fans and foes waiting in anticipation of his next move. Pusha T, on the other hand, has popped up twice on the Breakfast Club and twice on Hot 97 since the release of his album. In the interviews, he speaks freely and coolly about his unfolding beef with Drake. In one of his Breakfast Club interviews, he’s asked if he’s ready for Drake’s smoke, to which he responds “of course”. You can watch that interview below.
Drake has a lot on his plate at the moment: An album due any day in June, a spoiled Adidas clothing line rollout, son and baby mama drama, and a controversial blackface photo in circulation. On top of all that, everyone is waiting for his response to what many are dubbing the “Ether” of this rap war. Meanwhile, Push is probably enjoying the benefits of the limelight as Daytona gains more attention. Stay tuned for future updates!