Drake beef may be thin and lean, but throw some on the grill and watch the hot takes sizzle. Lesser rappers hurl insults at him with yawn-inducing regularity, likely in the hopes that he’ll notice and they can get that Drake bump on their Instagram. Pusha T is not one of those lesser rappers. He has been pushing Drake’s buttons for years. And based on Drizzy’s latest response track, this weekend’s “Two Birds, One Stone,” the G.O.O.D. Music president struck a nerve. So it goes...
Fuck the rap game, it’s all lies and it’s all filthy
Two percent of us rich and the rest of these niggas are all milky
Got two of my niggas off on the not guilty
Gave back to the city and never said it
If I didn’t live it but still they try to tell you I’m not the realest
Like I’m some privileged kid
And never sat through a prison visit
Like it was handed to me, top of the ribbon
I never worked to get it
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
If you ask me though you ain’t lining in the trunk with kilos
You bagging weed watching Pacino with all your niggas
Like “this is what we need to be on,” but never went live
You middleman in this shit, you were never those guys
I can tell cause I look most of you dead in your eyes
And you be trying to tell that story for the rest of your lives
In an acrobatic feat of self-delusion, Drake insinuates that he’s not privileged (he visited someone in prison!) before laying into Pusha for rapping about dealing drugs. He never references him by name, but both Pusha and his old group Clipse built their brand as former cocaine dealers, and here, Drizzy mocks him for being small time, unlike Clipse’s ex-manager. Pusha’s past pushing weight has never been disputed, but Drake flexing like “never said it if I didn’t live it” is comedic gold in the wake of all those unrefuted ghostwriting accusations levied against him. It also seems like a silly thing to clown on someone for in 2016. We’re deep into a post-Rick Ross hip-hop era where being a fabulist MC is no mortal sin, even for a gangsta rapper.
As if one sloppily made beef patty weren’t enough, Drake makes it a double. He takes shots at Kid Cudi for his mental health issues, which on its own is in extremely poor taste. Not only does he perpetuate a stigma towards depression that contributes to young men of color being less likely to seek help for mental health issues, but his mentor Lil Wayne has recently gone through similar struggles himself.
Drake’s relationship with Weezy is worth noting, since it was Mr. Young Money’s original beef with Pusha—dating back to the ’00s and having roots in the rappers’ sartorial choices—that pulled Drake into the fold. When Pusha dropped the Drake-sampling “Don’t Fuck With Me” in 2011, some thought the track—with lines like, “Rappers on they sophomores / Actin’ like they boss lords”—was directed at the Young Money camp. He denied it, but Drake wasn’t buying it, suggesting Pusha speak more specifically if he had beef. Pusha obliged with “Exodus 23:1,” taking aim at a rapper’s most sensitive spot: his wallet. “Contract all fucked / I guess that means you all fucked up,” Pusha raps matter-of-factly. “You signed to one nigga that signed to another nigga / That’s signed to three niggas, now that’s bad luck.”
From 2012 to 2014, Drake and Pusha traded shots: Pusha clapped at Wayne on “Your Favorite Rapper” so Drake threatened violence (“Tuscan Leather”), which Pusha insinuated would be “Suicide.” But Push must have hit a nerve with “H.G.T.V.,” the one-off single he dropped last month: “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 they killings ain’t real / With a questionable pen so the feeling ain’t real,” before pushing the knife in deeper with, “The bar’s been lowered / The well’s run dry / They beefing over melodies, but no, not I / See, I’m so Top 5 / If they factor in the truth / I just might blow by.”
Pusha has long considered himself an arbiter of what’s “gangsta” in the rap game, so it’s understandable that Drake’s success might taste a little salty: VIEWS went platinum and spent 11 weeks atop the Billboard 200, but Pusha’s superior King Push: Darkest Before The Dawn barely cracked the Top 20 in its opening week late last year. It would be a mistake to compare Drake’s last big beef opponent, the clownish Meek Mill, to Pusha T. You’re unlikely to hear anyone from Clipse whining about not getting retweeted, and if Drake ever tried anything harsher than tossing featherweight jabs in Pusha’s direction, expect the response to be a lot stronger than an emoji-laden tweet.
But here’s the rub: Pusha is clearly the more gifted lyricist—don’t @ me—but Drake already re-wrote the rules of rap beef in the last spat over his credibility. That feud inspired no shortage of sub par diss tracks from both Meek and Drake, but the real battle went down on Twitter—which makes one wonder why Drake doesn’t come right out and sic his meme army on Pusha. Post-Drake, it doesn't matter if you can out-rap your opponent, you just gotta out-meme them. Pusha may be King Push in the streets, but we all know who wears the crown in the tweets.