Pusha T’s takedown of Drake pushes the rap feud into the modern age

Blackface and investigative journalism: beefing has entered the online anger chamber

 

Rap feuds haven’t been the same since their 1990s heyday, when the very streets of Compton and Queens seemed paved with delicious slabs of pure, premium beef. Admittedly, some of these did occasionally escalate to the point that people were literally murdered, but for the most part beefs provided sheer entertainment and no more. If nothing else, they provided hip-hop with that extra element of excitement missing, perhaps, from the bitter rivalry between Big Tom and Dickie Rock.

The internet, with its multimedia potential, huge audience and fast access for those with quick tempers, seems made for a proper battle royale of beef, but has never had one live up to its potential yet; that is until Drake and Pusha T started squaring off last week.

Drake, the higher status of the two, nonetheless lacks the street cred of his foe, something that might be familiar from his short-lived beef with Philadelphia’s Meek Mill a few years back.

Pusha T is a slightly more capable foe, so when he dropped Drake diss Infrared on Spotify last week, the internet looked up. He accused him of being corny and not writing his own rhymes. It wasn’t exactly subtle, but reaction was swift.

Within 18 hours, Drake – or, an army of his ghostwriters – replied with Duppy Freestyle on SoundCloud, calling out Push for faking his credentials as a cocaine dealer, and subsequently tweeting an invoice charging him $100,000 for increased sales and marketing.

So far, so pleasant. Then came The Story of Adidon, Pusha T’s comeback-to-the-comeback, released to a grateful internet on Tuesday and filled with a level of excoriation not seen outside of a female newsreader’s Twitter mentions.

“Confused, always worried you wasn’t black enough,” howls Push on the track, which sports an old photograph of Drake in blackface as its artwork, and which swings from undermining Drake’s mixed ethnicity and upbringing, to making detailed claims about Drake abandoning a son no one had hitherto heard of.

Online takes were swift and merciless. “Drake came with rap punchlines” tweeted the New York Time’s @astead, “Pusha hit back with investigative journalism”.

Shea Serrano was more concise still: “Drake thought he was getting into a war with a rapper and ended up in a war with the team from Spotlight lol”.

This episode has shown that beefing has entered the Twitter-enabled anger chamber of the 21st century. Still, let’s hope it doesn’t end in fisticuffs, for even in a world of escalating beef, some steaks are still too high.

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