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In the wake of a career-defining “L” from Pusha T’s vicious “The Story of Adidon,” Drake needed his new album, Scorpion, to help him recover his place on top of the rap game. We all knew Scorpion was going to break all the records, but the questions concerned Drake’s pen game. Did he have the bars to answer the slander from Kanye on “Yikes” and Pusha T on “Infrared” and “Adidon?” To properly analyze the barbs in this beef, let's take a look back to where it picked up.
"Two Birds, One Stone"
Say what you will, this title is hard. The first half is the typical “stream-of-consciousness” Drizzy over subtle beat. But he dives into a sobering portrayal of Pusha T, proclaiming
“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 the trunk with kilos
You bagging weed watching Pacino with all your niggas
Like, "This what we need to be on," but you never went live
You middle-man in this shit, boy, you was never them guys
I can tell, 'cause I look most of you dead in your eyes
And you'll be tryna sell that story for the rest of your lives”
Instant 4/5 for these lines. Everything from the visual to the sting of his bars is on point. You can imagine someone on a couch in a dirty living room and a coffee table covered in baggies of weed, tapping one of his boys on the shoulder while pointing to Pacino on the TV screen saying, “This what we need to be on.” Objectively, one of my favorite lines from any rap beef due to its clarity. The other “bird” from the title is Kid Cudi, but his place in this beef in more of a sideshow than part of the main attraction. This line attacks the entirety of Pusha T’s career. Making his name off of coke rap, calling him a “middle-man” diminishes the story he’s told us in nearly every song he’s put out. So Pusha had to come back.
Daytona slaps. It's an instant contender for album of the year, despite only having seven songs. G.O.O.D. Music dropped several albums that were all content and no filler. Daytona is the pick of the bunch and "Infrared" has some scorchers for the 6 God.
"The game's fucked up
Niggas’ beats is bangin', nigga, ya hooks did it
The lyric pennin' equal the Trumps winnin’
The bigger question is how the Russians did it
It was written like Nas, but it came from Quentin"
Right out the gate, Pusha comes for the neck. Instantly bringing up those pesky ghostwriting rumors, Pusha makes it clear he’s aiming at Drake. We’ll give that a 4/5. He turns the heat up a notch, going on to state
"Shit, remember Will Smith won the first Grammy?
And they ain't even recognize Hov until "Annie"
So I don't tap dance for the crackers and sing Mammy
'Cause I'm ’posed to juggle these flows and nose candy (yugh)"
Now Drake has never been the toughest guy in the rap game but pairing him up with Will Smith, who, as Eminem famously proclaimed, “never had to cuss in his raps to sell records,” is harsh. He also pokes fun at Drake’s hit-making ability by claiming he’s essentially the rap game’s Uncle Tom. That’s a 4/5. Pusha adds a couple more lines about Drake using a ghostwriter throughout the song, keeping the theme of the diss consistent. Well, we waited less than 24 hours for a response
Imagine everyone’s surprise when Drake, in album mode, dropped a white-hot response on SoundCloud.
"So if you rebuke me for workin' with someone else on a couple of Vs
What do you really think of the nigga that's makin' your beats?
I've done things for him I thought that he never would need
Father had to stretch his hands out and get it from me
I pop style for 30 hours then let him repeat"
5/5. Nothing stings more than facts in rap. Drake has written various hits for Kanye and he addresses that truth immediately. Granted, Kanye is always thought of as both a producer and a rapper as opposed to just a rapper, so everyone knows that he has people writing. But can Pusha make the ghostwriting claims about Drake when the 6 God is the very man who writes hits for his boss?
"Your brother said it was your cousin, then him, then you
So, you don't rap what you did, you just rap what you knew
Don't be ashamed, it's plenty niggas that do what you do
There's no malice in your heart, you're an approachable dude
Man, you might've sold to college kids for Nike and Mercedes
But you act like you sold drugs for Escobar in the '80s
I had a microphone of yours, but then the signature faded
I think that pretty much resembles what's been happenin' lately"
Drake comes back again at Pusha T’s reputation for dealing drugs, claiming he writes more about what he’s been around than about what he’s actually done. He adds a clever line about No Malice, the brother of Pusha T who quit their rap group Clipse after he was uncomfortable with them promoting the lifestyle they lived. In the last two lines, Drake recalls how he grew up being a Pusha T fan and aligns the lack of popularity Pusha T receives from casual rap fans with a fading signature. 4/5 for that line.
"And as for Q, man, I changed his life a couple times
Nigga was at Kroger workin' double time
Y'all actin' like he made the boy when I was tryna help the guy
Yeah, who gassed you to play with me?
Man, you made this shit as easy as ABCs
Whoever supposedly makin' me hits
But then got no hits sound like they need me"
As a friend of mine said, this here is the thesis. How could Drake, the biggest star in music today, have a ghostwriter without anyone truly finding definitive evidence. The Quentin reference tapes came and went. Also, if he had this mysterious ghostwriter, how come this guy can’t write hits? 4/5 for this. On top of this song, he also sent an invoice for $100,000 for “promotional assistance and career revival." Petty.
"Story of Adidon"
Pusha T wanted all the smoke. ALL THE SMOKE. He did to Drake what Drake did to Meek Mill. He set him up with a soft jab before coming in with a haymaker. Now, we have to look at this song in two lights. When it dropped versus now, with the new information coming out about Drake showing Kanye a bit of Scorpion, including "March 14" where he speaks on his son. Kanye, being the snake he now is, gave Pusha T that information for this song. Therefore, Pusha T was able to paint this image of “good-guy” Drake as a deadbeat dad. But hey, if you got it, use it.
"Confused, always felt you weren't Black enough
Afraid to grow it 'cause your 'fro wouldn't nap enough"
The story of OJ beat on this song is powerful. Pusha T is telling us a truth. Or his truth. He comes at Drake’s Blackness. This is a solid 4/5 stinger. Drake is always seen as not growing up hard or not being the usual rapper. Pusha T captures this in two bars. Heat.
"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"
Now, this is just plain rude. 5/5 rating to get that out of the way. He exposes Drake’s son Adonis before Drake could do so on “Scorpion” and thus, can paint the portrayal of Drake as a poor father. He rips into Drake’s baby mother, former pornstar Sophie Brussaux, calling her “his Beyonce.” The fact that she has left that life behind and cleaned up her image on Instagram doesn’t remove the “stench” from her. (This is no insult to sex work, but this is how Pusha T comes at it.) One can only imagine the shock Drake must’ve felt listening to this part of the track. Pusha ends with a couple more jabs, stating:
"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!"
This is incendiary. Drake was/is rumored to be considering a switch to Adidas from Nike. That rumor ties in with his son being Adonis and the shoe line Drake would’ve released with Adidas being called “Adidon.” Now, who would have known this information? Perhaps a certain famous Adidas collaborator that owns G.O.O.D. Music? 4/5 and you tell me.
"OVO 40, hunched over like he 80—tick, tick, tick
How much time he got? That man is sick, sick, sick"
Nah, this is rude. Personally, I’m a big fan of the idea that there are no lines that are too far to cross in rap feuds, as long as it stays strictly rap and doesn’t move towards violence. And this is as close as it gets to crossing the line. Mocking “40,” Drake’s close friend and producer, for his multiple sclerosis is wildly disrespectful. But Pusha did it anyway. 4/5 again, Mr. T.
Now while Drizzy hasn’t formally responded to “Adidon” he littered Scorpion and his recent freestyle, “Behind Barz” with subliminal jabs.
On “8 out of 10”, Drake rhymes:
"Too rich for who? Y'all just got rich again
Who grips the mic and likes to kill they friends?"
Immediately, he goes for Kanye’s neck. 3/5. Nothing crazy. Now like those who are more informed with the rap game, like DJ Akadmiks and Joe Budden, believe this beef leans more towards Drake and Kanye because Kanye leaked the information about Adonis to Pusha T, hence why Drake calls Kanye out for his history of being a snake. Also, it’s a direct answer to Kanye’s lyric on “No Mistakes" where he claims to be “too rich to fight you” with the subliminal "you" being Drake. He then continues, answering Pusha T’s claim of him being a deadbeat dad, saying:
"The only deadbeats is whatever beats I been rappin' to (true)"
That’ll be a 4/5. It’s catchy and definitely direct. Moving onto “Is there More”, Drake delivers another one of my personal favorites in this beef.
"Too many Walt Disney characters, mouses and goofs
I mean you know I love a challenge, but challenged by who?
I'll let you bring a thousand recruits
My peers are a talented group
But even if you take all their statistics and carry the two
Even if you rounded up the numbers and rounded the troops
There's still nothin' they could really do
It's too bad reality checks don't cover the balances due"
4/5 right away. He dismisses Pusha T as being the smaller artist, which he is, at least in terms of sales. Drizzy then boasts about how no matter what his peers do, they’ll never be able to reach the heights he has before attacking Kanye’s debt problems with a beautiful double entendre. Reality checks refer to the “reality check” Pusha T tried to give Drake about his child while also referring to the checks Kanye and Co. get from Keeping Up with the Kardashians and how Kanye was in debt at one point in time. Gotta love it.
Moving on to that "Behind Barz" freestyle though.
"I know so much shit that I cannot expose
I keep it inside and I laugh on my own
Got all the tea and I'm hottin' it up
I need a shade mansion, a room's not enough
You're droppin' some shit but that shit was a bust"
Drake seems to be referring to his unreleased response to “Adidon” which may or may not actually exist. It’s been touted as a “career-ender” for Kanye and maybe Pusha as well, but as we all know, Kanye reached out to J. Prince and “deaded” the beef. Or so we thought. 3/5.
"They wanna link when they got no chunes
They too worried about sellin' out shoes
I don't give a fuck about jeans or crep
Or goin' to Milan or goin' to the Met
I just wanna make these songs for the set"
Well, these are clearly aimed at Kanye’s fashion affiliation, his need for Drake to ghostwrite for him, and the underwhelming Ye album. Drake brags about not caring about things like that and just being focused on the music. 4/5. So will the subliminals continue? We hope so.