Rap Beef: Is There An Invisible Line Not To Cross In A Rap Beef?
For as long as I can remember, there were no rules to a rap beef. Anyone can catch the smoke, anything can be brought out in the open and it was your job as the opponent to either a) go deeper or b) concede. The rules still apply even during this current war between G.O.O.D Music’s Pusha T and OVO’s Drake. Although some people may feel that subject matters relating to a family is off limits, the whole idea of a war is how many casualties one can accumulate. But one is to wonder…. can a rapper go too far?
Rap beefs have been around for as long as hip-hop has existed. From the times of Boogie Down Productions and Juice Crew to NWA vs. (their own) Ice Cube, the result of a war between rappers has always fallen into two categories: To make a career or break a career. Whether a beef was created due to a misunderstanding or an attempt on someone’s life, there has never been any lines NOT crossed during a war of words. And the spectators will always watch to see who hits the hardest first.
In the most recent years, Drake has been mixed in the crossfire of some of the notable rap beefs of today. Drake vs. Meek Mill, Drake vs. Kid Cudi, Drake vs. Jay-Z, Drake vs. Kanye West, and the list goes on and on. It is believed that went you are on the top, you will have the biggest target on your back. It is no secret that Drake is one of the biggest rappers of today. His singles and albums charts effortlessly, his 2017’s Summer Sixteen tour with rapper Future grossed $84.3 million, breaking the record of the highest grossing hip-hop tour, he runs a successful alcohol brand, two successful restaurants (Frings and pick 6ix), and even more admirable achievements. Let’s face it, Drake is a winner and anybody would be lucky to be in his position. But one would have to wonder, has Drake run out of luck? Has his good boy charm been tarnished by the “Story of Adidon”?
For those of you who may be a little lost on the origin of this beef between Drake and Pusha T, allow me to elaborate real quick. Follow the timeline below:
2003: The earliest sign of a budding beef between Pusha T and Cash Money dates back to 2003. Pusha T and his brother No Malice (Clipse) was featured on Birdman‘s “What happened to that boy?” track, produced by The Neptunes. Allegedly, after the track was released there was a dispute over Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams getting paid for their work. Let’s just say, Pharrell never worked with another Cash Money Records artist again.
2006: After Lil Wayne appeared on the cover of VIBE magazine in BAPE and Billionaire Boys Club in his music video for “Hustler Musik” back in 2006, the Clipse released a song called “Mr. Me Too,” throwing shots at those who they felt were bitting their unique style. “Wanna know the time? Better clock us / Niggas bite the style from the shoes to the watches.”
Lil Wayne responded in an issue of Complex magazine, stating, “Who the fuck is Pharrell? Do you really respect him? That nigga wore BAPEs and y’all thought he was weird. I wore it and Y’all thought it was hot.” *SPICY*
2011: During the next 5 years, Pusha T and Lil Wayne continued to throw shots at one another in songs and interviews, until Drake projected himself into the war of words with subliminally dissing Pusha in “Dreams Money Can Buy“. It took Pusha T no time to respond to the track, sampling the beat with “Don’t Fuck With Me“.
2012: Pusha wasted no time hitting Cash Money even harder with ““Exodus 23:1”. Push raps, “They got you talking that big shit, little do you know we don’t miss shit. Them niggas using you as a pawn, you see they never loaded their guns. Now you out here all by yourself, ask Steve Jobs wealth don’t buy health.”
2013-2014: Pusha-T claps at Lil Wayne on “Your Favorite Rapper”.
Drake responded by threatening violence on “Tuscan Leather”.
Pusha drops “Suicide”, the same weekend Drake headlined for Saturday Night Live.
2016: Pusha dropped “H.G.T.V.”, in which he raps, “The bar’s been lowered / The well’s run dry / They beefing over melodies, but no, not I / See, I’m so top five / If they factor in the truth / I just might blow by.”
Drake responds with “Two Birds, One Stone“, throwing shots at both Pusha T and Kid Cudi. ” If you ask me though, you ain’t lining the trunk with kilos / You bagging weed watching Pacino with all your n***a / 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.”
Drake responded back almost immediately with “Duppy Freestyle” and Drake didn’t hold nothing back. “Now, you popping up with the jokes, I’m dead, I’m asleep. I just left from over by Y’all putting pen to the sheets. Tired of sitting quiet, and helping my enemies eat. Keep getting temperature checks, They know that my head overheats. Don’t know why the fuck you niggas listen to Denim or Steve. Must’ve had your Infrared wrong, now your head in the beam. Y’all are the spitting image of whatever jealousy breeds.”
But shit really hit the fan when Pusha T released the nuclear bomb best known as “The story of Adidon“. Along with the track, Pusha also released an old photo of Drake in blackface, stating that the unaltered photo was taken in 2008 by David Leyes for a “Jim Crow Couture” clothing campaign for a brand called Too Black Guys. Although the artwork has since been removed from Instagram, the image is etched in our minds forever.
And now that you are all caught up in the history of the beef between Drake and Pusha T, let’s continue on.
Since the release of “The story of Adidon”, Drake has yet to respond. It has been a week. J. Prince, the CEO of Rap-a-Lot Records has spoken out about the beef between the two rappers. Appearing on several outlets, including Hot 97‘s Ebro in the Morning show, J. Prince claimed Kanye West reached out to him over the phone for help to de-escalate the feud. “This was something Kanye didn’t want,” he revealed. “He let me know, ‘I’m a family man. I don’t want this.’” Kanye also shared his sentiments over the feud on his Twitter account, declaring the beef “dead“.
So the question remains the same, is there a line that should not be crossed in a rap beef? I don’t know. If you witness someone getting roasted and they can not come up with something just as hard and witty, is it crossing a line? When Pusha T mentioned Drake having a baby, that the world seemingly did not know about, was it crossing a line? No, it wasn’t.
In fact, if you look back into the history of rap beefs, rappers have said things ten times worse than what Pusha T has said.
“I came in your Bentley backseat, skeeted in your Jeep/Left condoms on your baby seat/Here nigga, the gloves is off, the love is done/It’s whatever, whenever, however nigga, one/And since you infatuated with saying that gay shit/Yes you was kissing my dick when you was kissing that bitch“ Jay- Z to Nas (Supa ugly, 2001)
“I think the nigga just mad ’cause I fucked his ex/And I’m a big dog, he got the lil boy complex/Go dig your pat’na up, nigga, bet he can’t say shit/And if you looking for the kid I’ll be in Zone 6″
“I know it’s hard for you to sleep knowing you killed your homeboy/You left his son to be a bastard, won’t even raise ya own boy.” Gucci Mane to Young Jeezy (The Truth, 2013)
“First off, fuck your bitch and the click you claim/Westside when we ride come equipped with game/You claim to be a player but I fucked your wife/We bust on Bad Boy’s niggas fucked for life.” Tupac to The Notorious B.I.G. (Hit Em’ Up, 1996)
Whether it was allegations of sleeping with their enemy’s spouses, questioning the future of a child’s being or even suggesting that your enemy dig up his dead friend, rappers don’t think or even consider the length that their words can go when they are in the booth. Or maybe they do and they are anticipating the worst to come. What Pusha T said was lightweight compared to what rappers have said in the past, and we can only imagine what Pusha chose to not say on the song. When The story of Adidon dropped, OVO fans couldn’t wait to call foul. “How dare Pusha speak on Drake’s parents never being married? How dare Pusha T talk about Drake growing up with his dad? How dare Pusha mention his (alleged) baby mama’s former employment as an adult star?” But it took music fans and critics with a good memory to remind the same OVO fans that it wasn’t too long ago that Drake took digs at Kid Cudi and his (then) mental state.
“You were the man on the moon
Now you just go through your phases
Life of the angry and famous
Rap like I know I’m the greatest
Then give you tropical flavors
Still never been on hiatus
You stay xanned and perked up
So when reality set in you don’t gotta face it.”
The diss track was released shortly after Kid Cudi revealed that he had admitted himself into a rehab for anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Throughout the duration of his career, Cudi has openly discussed his battle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies in both his music and interviews. Although fans and music critics may feel that Cudi throwing shots at Drake and Kanye on his Twitter account warranted the harsh words, the majority of music lovers felt that he was hitting below the belt. Personally, I believe that Drake was hitting below the belt, with lines clearly reflecting his perspective on Cudi’s mental health and demolishing his influence in hip-hop. But as a Hip-Hop fan, I understood that when it comes down to beef, there are no lines. Anything goes.
In an era where topics of mental health, cyberbullying and the “cancel culture” is hitting a new level of sensitivity, Hip-hop has gotten really (really) soft. While the younger generation of rap lovers are trying to police the levels of where a diss track can go, the older generation can see that Pusha barely scratched the surface of “crossing a line“. He may have exposed Drake of things he did not want us to know, but at most Drake will suffer a bruised ego. Nothing more serious than that. Hip-Hop lovers are quick to show a disdain for rappers whose music don’t feel genuine or isn’t real enough. The irony of the same Hip-hop lovers calling foul when their favorite rapper gets spanked in a song. Quite amusing when you think about it.