It’s going to take a lot to topple Drake. Ever since Take Care’s whopping 631,000 first-week sales back in 2011, the half-Canadian icon has been at the forefront of pop and rap, creating a musical legacy that is hard to compete with. Point to any marker of success, and Drake has it: sales, critical acclaim, no. 1 hits, sold-out tours, even festival headlines. This, alongside a sterling public image (just see the God’s Plan video), has made Drake an incredibly hard man to fault.
Which is why the recent beef between Pusha T and Drake has been so utterly compelling. Whilst Drake has had the occasional misstep (mocking Kid Cudi’s depression springs to mind) it’s rare that we’ve seen anyone truly get under his skin. And when your persona relies heavily on being the untouchable (“They still out to get me, I don’t get it / I can not be got, and that’s a given”), any slip or falter can have drastic effects on the public’s perception of both you and your music.
Enter Pusha T. Whilst the ex-Clipse rapper has had varying success since departing from the iconic duo, an assortment of features and albums have assured us of Push’s continued lyrical prowess. And indeed, the fact remains: no other man can describe cocaine quite like King Push. But recently Pusha’s sights have shifted from coke to beef, with new track Infrared sending various shots at Drake. From raising allegations of ghostwriting to comparing his rise to Trump’s, the track is a powerful, albeit late, response to Drake’s Two Birds One Stone.
Of course, this reignited the fire within Drake, who promptly released Duppy Freestyle. The 3-minute bar-fest is a pointed lyrical attack on Push, insulting his status (“You’re not even top 5 as far as your label talent goes”), his friend and labelmate Kanye West (“Father had to stretch his hands out and get it from me”) and, most prominently, his subject matter (“you act like you sold drugs for Escobar in the ‘80s”). Whilst Duppy Freestyle was as a whole met with praise, it pales in comparison to what was to come.
Which brings us to The Story of Adidon. Push’s response, a 3-minute rant over No I.D. and Jay-Z’s The Story of OJ, is arguably one of the most layered rap responses of all time - in just a single verse, Push attacks Drake’s insecurities, mocks his best friend’s condition, associates him with blackface, potentially ruins his future fashion line, and even reveals his illegitimate son.
Lyrically, Push is straight-to-the-point: lines such as “Afraid to grow it ‘cause your fro wouldn’t nap enough” and “Monkey-suit Dennis, you parade him” cut deep at Drake’s racial insecurities. Meanwhile, Push draws attention to the MS of best friend Noah ‘40’ Shebib, inverting Drake’s iconic ‘6’ tag to deliver brutal lines like “OVO 40, hunched over like he 80, tick, tick, tick / How much time he got? That man is sick, sick, sick”. Push even managed to dredge up a long-buried photo of Drake in blackface for the cover art, associating the pop-rap icon with one of the most visually disturbing symbols of racism. Whilst Drake has since clarified the image’s origins, the damage has already been done.
The track’s main attack, however, has incredibly potent real-world consequences. Early in the song Pusha refers to a supposed child that Drake has had with former pornstar Sophie Brussaux, named Adonis. The next lines speak for themselves:
“You are hiding a child, let that boy come home, Deadbeat motherfucker playing border patrol, Adonis is your son, And he deserves more than an Adidas press run, that’s real.”
Drake, according to numerous sources, had planned to reveal his child via his new album, Scorpion, as well as an Adidas collaboration named after him, Adidon. It’s safe to say that this prospect is all but over: Push’s song has associated Adidon with blackface, potentially ruining a collaboration between Drake and the sportswear giant. The presence of an illegitimate child also raises career-damning allegations of poor parenthood. If proved true (which some sources are pointing towards), this situation may have disastrous consequences for Drake, painting him as a ‘deadbeat dad’ just like his own father. No conclusive evidence has yet been provided, however, so this will be a story to follow over the weeks to come.
Undoing the work of God’s Plan and Look Alive, Pusha T has done what many thought impossible, finding weakness in one of the world’s biggest superstars. Pusha’s diss is as “surgical” as he describes, picking apart every aspect of Drake’s life for the world to see. The Story of Adidon has not only attacked Drake, but delivered devastating real-world consequences, revealing the scandal of an illegitimate child alongside tarnishing the icon’s image significantly. ‘Ethered’ doesn’t do it justice, no, this is a full-blown character assassination. And with just a weak notes-app response from Drake, it appears that it’s worked.