Several years removed from the film, we know by now that 2010’s I’m Still Here — the mockumentary in disguise starring Joaquin Phoenix — was merely an elaborately staged prank. In the film, Phoenix claims to have quit acting in pursuit of his newest goal: becoming a rap sensation.
In real-life, we were treated to an instance where it seemed like Phoenix almost did become a part of the hip-hop world, when Pusha T’s track “King Push” was released in 2013 boasting production by Kanye West and none other than Joaquin “My Beard Looks Smelly” Phoenix.
The beat is really good. Almost too good. But, don’t believe all you hear or see when it comes to Phoenix. Because, although he’s proclaimed, “I don’t like lying-I really don’t,” we know that to be far from the truth.
Even Def Jam Records went along for the ride when it came to production credits on the track:
Pusha T himself even said Phoenix co-produced the track when he told Vibe that Kanye had submitted to him a few beats, and that, “One of those beats was from Joaquin Phoenix…”
Perhaps it was not a surprise then when Phoenix issued a statement to XXL saying, “While it was widely reported that Pusha T used my beat and that I produced his song, I can’t take any credit. A friend’s son played me his music, and all I did was make an introduction to Kanye’s camp.”
Ok, so we know I’m Still Here was not real, and Phoenix never produced a beat, or got engaged to his yoga instructor, and it’s also common knowledge (at least to those who care) that Diddy was in on the whole fake rapper fiasco. What can we believe? We can probably believe that Diddy went to greater lengths than we thought when it came to not only concealing the truth about I’m Still Here, by perpetuating the myth that Phoenix was really, really trying to become a rap icon. Because, as Phoenix puts it, “Diddy was [a] f*cking genius.”
Before the film was released, Diddy talked to MTV News about the authenticity of the project:
Joaquin’s for real. If he’s not for real, he tricked me. We went into the studio, did a record, mixed a record and everything.
But, Diddy’s involvement went even deeper than speaking to the media. According to Phoenix, he was one of the only people — along with Casey Affleck, of course — who knew that the film was a farce. “Well, you should do songs and stuff for real and take it seriously,” Diddy told Phoenix. “Just don’t do stupid, mock things—really try to write a song.”
So, that’s what Phoenix did.
Phoenix explained to Interview, even further, how Diddy helped to make the project seem realistic:
So we went to his house and it was just like, “Will you do this?” and he said, “Yeah, I’ve got to go to this party, then I’ll go and meet you and we’ll do a scene in the hotel.” So I said, “Look, can we also just get you when you’re leaving right now? We’re just going to pretend that we’re pulling up to your house and that you’re leaving and that I missed the appointment, I missed the meeting.” So we ran outside, got in our car and pulled up to his gate and called and said, “Hey, this is Joaquin Phoenix.” And the voice goes, “Oh, he just left, actually.” And then he pulled out and left. So he knew everything, but played it totally straight, and I thought he was fucking genius.
You might not like his music, and maybe you’re not a fan of his business acumen, but you have to admit, Diddy is cool as sh*t. I mean, he punched Drake and helped Joaquin Phoenix — who is turning into this generation’s Daniel Day Lewis (three Academy Award acting nominations and counting) — become a fake rapper. And, he’s mindf*cking you right now.