Drake’s much-anticipated album is called ‘Scorpion,’ but Pusha T has delivered the stinger
Does Drake have a ‘Blueprint 2’ in him, to set the record straight?
Rap beef in the age of social media is a lot like a NBA playoff series — the narrative changes with each momentum swing. And as it stands right now, in light of Pusha T’s scathing “The Story of Adidon,” Drake’s in need of adjustments heading into Game 4.
Recorded over JAY-Z’s “The Story of O.J.,” “Adidon” (Game 3) is Pusha T’s response to Drake’s hard-hitting (Game 2) “Duppy Freestyle” and is so cold, calculated and curt that Pusha T could be James Spader’s replacement on The Blacklist. The bad blood dates back nearly to the start of the decade — a litany of subliminal (and not so subliminal) shots sprang from both, punctuated by Pusha T’s 2012 “Exodus 23:1.” “Duppy” is Drake’s response to Pusha T’s jabs on the recent “Infrared,” the closing track on his recently released album Daytona. The three-part (and counting) drama has Drake in a new position: behind the eight ball.
The beef also places Adidas in an interesting position: Pusha T has a deal with the footwear and apparel giant. Pusha T is signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music, and Kanye of course is one of Adidas’ most prized business and creative partners. And as noted by GQ, Pusha, with the title of the song, not only confirmed long-swirling rumors of Drake jumping to Adidas from a long-standing deal with Jordan Brand but also tainted what may be the name of this new brand by framing it with blackface and the name of what may or may not be a “secret” son of the Canadian rap star — whose name may or may not be Adonis.
If Rihanna posts a video of her listening to Pusha T's diss track while applying Fenty Beauty Foundation there's no coming back.
— Qué Pequeño (@BMoreAlien) May 30, 2018
Drake has historically controlled the narrative of his hugely successful career. He picks his spots to dominate, much like a prizefighter. He understands the climate of the moment and knows when to release new music, perhaps better than anyone in rap. And even when attacked, which is rare, he found a way to flip the narrative and temporarily derail Meek Mill’s career.
What Drake’s never been able to escape are the allegations that he uses ghostwriters, a crime some believe is a nearly a capital offense in rap. Drake deeply cares about his place in rap’s hierarchy. Being the most successful is one thing. He’s been there, done that, bought T-shirts and toured the world 100 times over. There’s no denying Drake’s track record with regard to monster singles, infectious features and all around feel-good music.
Overnight, though, and via Pusha T’s new song, the image of Drake has undergone a metamorphosis. And with the most anticipated album of his career weeks away from release and the premier tour of the summer with Migos kicking off in July, the timing of everything is nothing short of deafening.
There are the apparent claims, by Pusha T, that Drake has a secret child: Ask your baby mother / Cleaned her up for IG … baby’s involved / It’s deeper than rap. The accusation places Drake’s newest single “I’m Upset” in a new light. In it, an agitated Drake rhymes about women out to manipulate him for financial gain.
But Pusha T drills: You are hiding a child, let that boy come home / Deadbeat m—–f—–, playin’ border patrol … Adonis is your son / And he deserves more than Adidas press run / That’s real. It needs to be mentioned that a “deadbeat father” and Drake and the child’s mother choosing not to place the child in the public spotlight are two completely different accusations. Deeper than the Adidas-on-Adidas crime, the photo of Drake in blackface could be the most damaging part of “Story of Adidon.” It’s an actual photo, taken by the photographer David Leyes, who defended the shoot as “an artistic statement envisioned by Drake,” who is biracial. Drake has been accused by some critics of being a culture vulture. “I really need to understand what makes you take a photo like that,” Pusha said on The Breakfast Club. “I’m not ready to excuse that.”
Spent all last night thinking about how much different the rap game would be had Meek found those Drake blackface pics first
— Walt (@WaltD336) May 30, 2018
Add unflattering remarks about Drake’s parents: You mention wedding ring like it’s a bad thing, Pusha raps, referring to Drake’s mention of Pusha’s fiancée, Virginia Williams, on “Duppy Freestyle.” Your father walked away at five, hell of a dad thing / Marriage is something that Sandi never had, Drake / How you a winner, but she keep coming in last place?
Rap beef, in its highest forms, is a blood sport. It should go without saying that this war of words remains just that. But it does leave Drake in a precarious position. One in which a response, of some sort, is expected.
@PUSHA_T deadass ruined @Drake's collab with @adidasoriginals before it even got started… he turned Adidon into AdiDONE
— JonPaul Delgado (@JonPaulTheDon) May 30, 2018
Drake’s credit is the world’s most strategic rapper. And he’s going to have to be every bit of that as he walks up to the release of Scorpion. In the Grammy-nominated “Back To Back,” Drake rapped, I waited four days, n—-, where y’all at? But this time, Drake knows exactly where Pusha is — at his neck. He’s behind the eight ball of a diss record so personal, so revealing and already so acclaimed that he’s in need of a proverbial third-quarter explosion to rewrite his story.
For context: JAY-Z was visibly shaken following Nas’ “Ether.” He knew what the world knew — that while he’d delivered with “Takeover,” a vicious left-jab-overhand-right-hook combo that left Nas staggering, JAY-Z himself had received a haymaker that knocked him to the canvas. It was the first time JAY-Z had ever been so publicly belittled. JAY-Z did eventually respond with the finest diss record of his career in “Blueprint 2.” It was a more mature approach than his original rebuttal “Superugly” where he openly boasted sleeping with Nas’ ex Carmen Bryan and “left condoms on the babyseat.” The results of which JAY’s mother, Gloria, made him apologize for—and one JAY instantly regretted. “I feel like I didn’t think about women’s feelings [or Nas’ former girlfriend] feelings or my mom,” he told Angie Martinez in December 2001. Instead, “Blueprint 2” blasted Nas’ credibility as a rapper and labeled him a hypocrite of titanic proportions.
And y’all buy the s— caught up in the hype
Cause the n—- wear a kufi, it don’t mean that he bright
Cause you don’t understand him, it don’t mean that he nice
It just means you don’t understand all the bulls— that he write
Is it “Oochie Wally Wally” or is it “One Mic”?
Is it “Black Girl Lost” or shorty owe you for ice?
I’ve been real all my life, they confuse it with conceit
Since I will not lose they try to help him cheat
But I will not lose
For even in defeat
There’s a valuable lesson learned so it evens it up for me
When the grass is cut, the snakes will show
I gotta thank the little homie Nas for that, though.
But even in the song, it was JAY-Z coming to terms with the fact that regardless of whether he won or lost the war of words, he’d empty the clip on his way out the booth. He didn’t tap out. He didn’t get knocked out. He finished the fight and let the decision fall in the hands of history.
In essence, that’s where Drake is right now: in a beef he willingly placed himself in and one he willingly turned far more personal than most saw coming. No amount of money, record sales or plaques will debunk anything “The Story of Adidon” put on front street. For an artist who has made a career out of deeply personal — albeit, at times, self-centered — odes, his most intimate confessions could lie on the horizon. “The Story of Adidon” is Drake’s “Ether.” Does he have a “Blueprint 2” in him, to set the record straight? “(Insert time) in (insert location)” is coming soon. Maybe.