One long standing tradition of hip hop and rap culture is rap battles and cyphers. These showcases allow artists to flaunt their skills to each other and one-up each other in a game of quick wit and rhythm.
Lines are crossed, feuds are created and fandoms are born. Fast forward to 2018 where thanks to the digital age, we can all be a part of hip hop’s latest and dirtiest feud: Drake versus Pusha T.
Drake and Pusha T live on opposite sides of the rap and hip hop universe. Drake, a chart topping star who is popular with people of all ages, producing accessible and easy listening hip hop versus Pusha T, the elusive gangster who puts emphasis on production and lyrics (also half of the genius on the hip-hop classic, Runaway). Their recent feud over Pusha T’s most recent track “Infrared” packed with subtle hits at the Toronto star, has taken over the internet. But this feud stems from years of beef. Here’s a quick recap before we get into recent events:
A feud that originally started with a controversy over Japanese clothing store BAPE, has lasted an astonishing 8 years. It all started with a feud between Drake’s mentor and friend Lil Wayne versus Clipse, a rap duo made up of Pusha T and No Malice. Over the years the feud was heated, and subtle disses were being tossed around in everyone’s tracks. Pusha T was dissing Young Money for their financial contracts, which resulted in Wayne firing back a diss track called “Ghoulish”. And it doesn’t stop there. Years of disses have been tossed around to accumulate to this year’s showdown. Our latest episode left off with Drake’s “Two Birds, One Stone” where Drake disses Pusha T and Kanye’s ally Kid Cudi. Additionally, in an extended bit Drake scrutinizes Pusha T for his drug dealing past, to which Pusha responded years later with the much anticipated, Daytona. Now you’re caught up.
May 25th, 2018: Daytona & Duppy Freestyle are dropped
Pusha T’s anticipated project Daytona produced by Kanye West concludes with “Infrared”, which is about how rappers aren’t real and how he can see through them, specifically Drake. Filled with subtle hits, fans particularly noticed the last few lines, “How could you ever right these wrongs / When you don’t even write your songs? / But let us all play along / We all know what ni**as for real been waitin on, Push”. Drake actually ends his verse on Poetic Justice with this exact line, “But I can never right my wrongs / Unless I write ‘em down for real, P.S”. Between all the disses, Pusha T is generally insinuating that people would rather listen to a real rapper like himself, than someone with ghostwriters.
Only a few hours into Pusha T’s anticipated release, Drake drops “Duppy Freestyle”. A loaded response to Pusha T’s “Infrared”. Drake’s lines: “Father had to stretch his hands out and get it from me” and “I told Weezy and Baby, ‘I’ma done him for you’ / Tell ‘Ye we got a invoice comin’ to you / Considerin’ that we just sold another 20 for you” were applauded for being explicit, specifically the father stretch my hands line being a direct shot at Kanye, as Drake was listed as a songwriter on Life of Pablo.
Pusha responded to Duppy Freestyle via Twitter by asking Drake to send the invoice for the extra 20. In true rap beef fashion, Drake did exactly that by sending an invoice to G.O.O.D Music, for $100,000 re: promotional assistance and career revival. Drake won this round.
May 29th, 2018: Pusha T responds with “The Story of Adidon”
After the uproar of Duppy Freestyle and the invoice, Drake was feeling pretty nice, while Pusha T was just getting started.
Pusha responds to “Duppy Freestyle” with his own diss track, “The Story of Adidon”. The response was complete with album art that features a disturbing pic of Drake in blackface. The photo in question was taking by photographer David Leyes for Toronto clothing brand Too Black Guys for their “Jim Crow Couture” line. In a statement from photographer David Leyes via Instagram, he says the photo has been taken out of context and “I’m proud to be part of a strong statement made by a black man about the fucked up culture he is livin in.”
The track also takes some pretty dark hits at Drake’s longtime best friend and producer Noah “40” Shebib for having multiple sclerosis. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has even commented on this diss. In a statement to Pitchfork, Eileen Curran, Senior Director National PR/Media for the National MS Society, said, “It’s troubling to hear that a person’s disability would be made fun of by others. Multiple sclerosis, which affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide, is an often misunderstood disease. People living with MS face many challenges every day, which is why it’s so important to continue to raise awareness for MS so others can better understand those challenges. We at the National MS Society see this as an opportunity to raise awareness of this disease, the people who live with it, and the support that is out there – especially since today is World MS Day.”
While “Duppy Freestyle” aims to say Drake and Pusha are on the same level, Pusha’s approach was more to take down Drake on all facets. Pusha continues to take shots at Drake for abandoning his baby mama, and how his own issues with his father are a reflection of his character: “Confused, always felt you weren’t Black enough / Afraid to grow it ’cause your ‘fro wouldn’t nap enough” and “Sophie knows better as your baby mother / Cleaned her up for IG, but the stench is on her / 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” are direct disses to Drake’s character, combined with the controversial artwork, this round goes to Pusha.
May 30th, 2018: Drake responds to Pusha T’s “album artwork”
In a note on his phone Drake responds to the album art with the following statement:
Drake speaks on “blackface” photos circulating. pic.twitter.com/y3SrOl9DcQ
— Word On Road (@WordOnRd) May 31, 2018
At this point the internet in confused, and not really sure who to believe.
May 31st, 2018: Pusha takes to Twitter to expose Drake… again.
After Pusha T’s artwork for “The Story of Adidon” made Drake fans freeze in shock of the hometown hero’s actions, Pusha decided to throw one more blow in while he could. Pusha tweeted: “ You got a 100k floating around for info? Can’t no amount of money create skeletons that don’t exist… #ImUpset”
You got a 100k floating around for info? Can’t no amount of money create skeletons that don’t exist… #ImUpset ?
— King Push (@PUSHA_T) June 1, 2018
Insinuating that Drake is working with private investigators to dig up dirt on him for his next diss. Fear not Pusha T fans, according to King Push, Drake won’t be able to find anything.
What can hip hop and music fans alike take from this beef? Hip hop and rap beef is part of the culture of hip hop. These kinds of feuds are necessary to fuel the culture, and contribute to the creation of exciting music. These are the kinds of rap battles fans wait for. And based on the history between these 2 rappers, we have a feeling it’s not even close to being over.