“I’m in shock. The nerve, the audacity…”
This is how Drake opened up his ‘Duppy Freestyle’ last Friday, itself a response to Pusha T’s ‘Infrared,’ released earlier that day. By all accounts, it was a surprisingly strong effort from the artist most people consider more of a pop star than a rapper nowadays. He questioned Pusha’s history of drug dealing, the main dish of his songwriting, while lobbying shots at Kanye for having ghostwriters himself. Now though, after Pusha’s response, ‘The Story of Adidon,’ that opening salvo might be better applied to Drake himself.
Before we go there though, it will pay to go back to the long ago origin of the now-hottest hip hop beef in years. Way back in 2006, when Pusha was still together with his brother Malice as Clipse, Lil Wayne appeared on the cover of Vibe magazine wearing a BAPE hoodie, which was widely associated with Clipse and their Re-Up Gang. They carried back and forth in interviews, but the beef died down when Wayne went to prison in 2010.
Yet in 2011, Pusha sampled a pre-Take Care one-off on his song ‘Don’t Fuck With Me,’ and tossed in a couple subliminal bars at Drake: “Rappers on their sophomores / Actin’ like they boss lords / Fame such a funny thing for sure / When niggas start believing all them encores.” He followed it up in 2012 with the wider Young Money diss ‘Exodus 3:14’: “Contract all fucked up / I guess that means you all fucked up,” he rapped. “You signed to one nigga that signed to another nigga / That’s signed to three niggas / Now that’s bad luck.”
Wayne responded with the below tweet, while Drake responds with ‘Tuscan Leather’ off 2013’s Nothing was the Same: “Bench players talkin’ like starters, I hate it.”
Tensions died down until 2016, in the aftermath of Drake’s beef with Meek Mill over accusations of ghostwriting. Pusha dropped the one-off ‘HGTV Freestyle’: It’s too far gone when the realest ain’t real / I walk amongst the clouds so your ceilings ain’t real / These niggas Call of Duty ’cause their killings ain’t real / With a questionable pen so the feeling ain’t real.”
Drake hit back a year later with the pre-More Life one-off ‘Two Birds One Stone’: 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.” He also caught heat for his mocking Kid Cudi’s depression in the same song.’
This brings us to the latest verbal artillery round between the rappers. The newest volley being Pusha’s ‘The Story of Adidon,’ a truly apocalyptic round that has put Drake from album mode to damage control mode. Where to start with this one? How about the cover art that depicts 2007 Drake in blackface.
Until this morning, when Drake posted an Instagram story explaining the photo, it came with context, instead standing as a truly damning image for the rapper. While he did explain that it came from a project from when he was still an actor meant to show the challenges black actors faced historically, the damage has been done.
Then we have Pusha rapping over No ID’s ‘Story of OJ’ beat, with sampled Nina Simone singing, ‘My skin is black,’ a pointed yet subtle jab in a song that clearly questions Drake’s blackness. Then there’s the actual lyrics.
Never before has Pusha sounded more like the calculated villain he paints himself as in much of his songs. First, he attacks Drake’s finances by implying that Baby steals most of it, then references Drake’s father leaving him at a young age, his mother still being alone, implying he doesn’t do enough for her, and then more or less says that he parades his black father around to show off his blackness.
Then comes the TMZ-style bombshell:
Since you name-dropped my fiancée
Let 'em know who you chose as your Beyoncé
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
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 pornstar, let her be your world, yuugh!
Apparently, Pusha was an investigative journalist before he sold coke, as it seems confirmed that former porn star Sophie Brussaux had a child with Drake this past October that he had been keeping secret. On Wednesday, Pusha went on the Breakfast Club to talk ‘Adidon’ revealing the meaning behind the title and the last few bars above. Adidon was meant to be a portmanteau of his son’s name and Adidas for his upcoming line. Instead, now Google searches of Adidon will show the already infamous cover. Pusha has succeeded in reaching SEO levels of beef.
All this, and he still throws in a handful of vicious, cruel lines mocking Noah ‘40’ Shebib, Drake’s long-time hit-maker, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Your tolerance for this line is probably in line with your tolerance of rap beefs in general.
Pusha ends his scorched earth campaign with a cackle and a promise for more, saying, “Yeah, DAYTONA/Album of the motherfuckin' year/And you talkin' 'bout you upset? Well I wanna see what it’s like when you get angry, okay?” This is a reference to Drake’s poorly received single ‘I’m Upset,’ as much as it is the capper to a patronizing smackdown from an industry veteran who utilized Drake’s own intimacy against him.
It’s tempting to compare the song to ‘Ether,’ Nas’ takedown of Jay-Z, but ‘Ether’ wasn’t so multifaceted an attack, and now just comes off as Nas calling Hov ugly and gay. It remains to be seen just how or if Drake will respond to the bloodletting yet it’s clear he’s been hurt. There’s already a bevy of memes mocking the usually social media-savvy Toronto rapper, so whether or not Pusha’s promise of a ‘Surgical Summer vol. 2’ comes true, it’s already a cruel one for Drake.